Sep 9, 2011 1:23 AM by Matt Stafford

Local couple shares stories from 9/11

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, all U.S. flights were grounded just after 9 a.m.
However Marta Hannon was one of the few that left that morning; she flew from Washington D.C. to Newark, New Jersey.

"I remember looking down at New York and I kept thinking, 'Wow, it looks so nice, so peaceful,'" says Marta. "I landed in Newark about 8:00 a.m."

After getting off of the plane and picking up her rental car, Marta saw heavy smoke in the air in the direction of New York City. She called her fiancé at the time, now husband, Jim Hannon who was working in the Pentagon at the time.

Jim told Marta about the planes hitting the World Trade Center; that's when Marta heard a huge explosion.

"He said, 'Oh my god, oh my god... I think we've just been bombed," says Marta, remembering Jim's reaction.

"I see some people down below in the parking lot and they're going like this (pointing in the air) and they start to run, and a split-second later I hear the rumble of the explosion," explains Jim. "What was really eerie is I saw the reflection of a fireball in the black, glass building across the street."

The phone was disconnected, and Marta and Jim wouldn't speak again for several hours.

It was the section of the Pentagon next to Jim's office that was hit. Jim worked in logistics for the Air Force, and they evacuated but kept working from a nearby building.

Jim says it took a while to figure out exactly what was going on; they were asking themselves the same questions over and over.

"What's happening here and what should we start to do? says Jim. "You know, the world doesn't stop because the Pentagon's been hit."

For months after the attacks, Jim worked very long hours at the Pentagon on military operations and national security.

"I knew there was stuff he was hearing, and I knew he couldn't talk about it," says Marta.

"What were you concerned about, at the time, happening?" News 5 asked Jim.

"There was chatter about the possibility of a chemical or biological attack," says Jim. "We kept chemical warfare bags under our desks, with our masks and our suits. We seriously thought something else was going to happen."

Jim made sure they were ready for the worst at home.

"The code was if I call you and say, 'go', and I hang up; you grab whatever is living in the house and you get in the truck and you drive south out of town," explains Jim.

"Did it ever get so close that you thought you were going to have to make that call?" asks News 5.

"Never got to that point where I though about picking up the phone and saying, 'go.'"

The Hannons are proud of the fact that America hasn't been attacked since; they know the work that goes into keeping it safe.

News 5 is providing special coverage for the 10th anniversary this weekend; extra news, local and national memorial services, as well as your local stories -- that's on Sunday on News 5.


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