The Fort Myer Military Community Fire Department had three men on the scene at the Pentagon when the attack occurred. In a matter of minutes, the rest of the team from Fort Myer joined the three men.
"It was a normal day, just going to the heliport. We saw on the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and we kept watching the rerun of the second plane hitting when the plane crashed [at the Pentagon.] I didn't have an inkling that anything would hit down there," said Dennis Young, a Fort Myer firefighter who was on the scene when the plane crashed into the Pentagon.
The FMMC fire department is responsible for the landings and take-offs at the Pentagon heliport. The department sends three men to the Pentagon each day to cover the flights, according to FMMC Fire Chief Charles Campbell.
The three men at the Pentagon Sept. 11 were Alan Wallace, Mark Skipper and Dennis Young.
Wallace and Skipper were outside the Pentagon fire station when the plane crashed into the South wing of the building.
Wallace injured his shoulder when he jumped under the fire truck to escape the fireball that came from the building. He crawled from the side of the truck to the front, Campbell said.
Young was inside the station at the time of the attack. "The ceiling started falling all around me," said Young. "It wasn't an explosion were it would knock you off your feet."
"When the aircraft hit, a fireball flew into the station and went into the living quarters and collapsed everything in the ceiling. The air conditioning duct, the heating, the lights, the ceiling tiles all came down around Dennis," Campbell added.
After the fireball went through the area, the three men made sure they were all okay.
Wallace then got into the fire truck, which had been totaled, and radioed for the rest of the department.
"I helped two or three [people] out of the window. By then, enough able bodies were there to help the other people," Young said.
Wallace, Skipper and Young assisted at least 10 people out of the first floor of the Pentagon, said Campbell.
They had worked for 45 minutes when a fireman told Skipper and Wallace they were injured and needed to get to a hospital.
Both men suffered from second-degree burns on their neck and on their arms. Skipper has fully recovered and is back at work. Wallace should return after having shoulder surgery.
While the three men were at the Pentagon, the majority of the men from the department were in an airport rescue firefighters class in the Education Center at Fort Myer.
Dave Flick, a sergeant for the Fort Myer fire department, said he heard a rumble while sitting in the class.
"I actually thought someone had fallen out of a chair," Flick said.
"Then we heard over the radio that there was a report of an aircraft down and it was near 14th Street Bridge. Al Wallace came over the radio and said they had an airliner hit the Pentagon," Flick said.
It wasn't until Wallace made the radio call that it became very real for some firemen. Bruce Surette has been with the fire department at Fort Myer for six years. Surette was in the classroom with Flick when the plane crashed.
"We had heard some radio transmissions from some other units in Arlington about how they thought they had a plane down here or a plane down there," Surette said.
"So you're thinking, 'Hey this could be real.' But it really didn't strike home as being real until our guy came on the radio and said where the plane crash was."
Immediately, the firemen got their equipment and went to the Pentagon to aid the victims.
"I didn't have my gear here so I was going through the lockers looking for pants and clothes that fit me," George Smith, Fort Myer firefighter, said.
Smith's personal gear was on the fire truck that was damaged by the crash. It took only seconds for him to gear up and head out with the rest of his crew.
The ride to the Pentagon took about four minutes, William Harris, a Fort Myer fire department sergeant, said. Harris was the driver of Engine 161.
"Being in the front seat driving, I'm thinking a bunch of stuff. I'm seeing a lot of smoke. Coming around the corner, I see a disaster zone, a war zone," Harris said.
"I said a prayer to myself, to get there, and get where I needed to be without flat tires."
"You couldn't walk across that field without stepping on a piece of that plane," said Smith.
"It looked like a scene from a Steven Spielberg movie."
After the crews worked approximately 25 minutes, the damaged section of the building collapsed.
"We sat there and watched it fall, there was nothing we could do," Young said.
"It didn't fall fast, it fell slowly, like a domino effect. It wasn't a crashing down, it was slow."
The volunteers and military present on the scene were appreciated by the firefighters.
"The military guys were tremendous," Harris said. The soldiers stood by all day, helped rack the hose and constantly gave water to the workers, he added.
Twelve hours after arriving at the Pentagon, the men returned to Fort Myer.
Most of the firefighters reflect on Sept. 11 as a day to remember.
"I would like to go back and see just exactly what was damaged, but they won't let us," said Young.
Ronnie Willett, a captain at the Fort Myer Fire Department said, when reflecting on the aftermath: "It brought an awareness of what terrorists are capable of."
The Fort Myer Military Community would like to say "Thank you" to the men at the FMMC Fire Department for risking their lives to save so many others.