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Murray State Professor Reflects on Being in the Pentagon on 9/11

Dr. Michael Bowman is an associate professor of Telecommunications System Management at Murray State. On 9/11/2001, he was a U.S. Army Lt. Colonel holding a staff meeting in the Pentagon when hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the building. He shares his experience with Kate Lochte on Sounds Good

Dr. Bowman keeps a picture hanging in his office in the university. It's a common farewell gift from a military assignment. Typically, friends and associates sign the picture with farewell notes. The picture, from 1990, signed by people he worked with before and after 9/11. The people who signed this photo were people who were in the room with him that day and remain close friends from that shared experience.

They weren't yet aware of what had happened in New York City, but they had been warned about the Pentagon being targeted. He heard what sounded like a bomb going off near their office. The lights stayed on, however, so everyone in the meeting linked arms so that they wouldn't lose anyone in the encroaching smoke coming down the hallway. Unable to see, they made their way out and away from the smoke to the far point on the other side of the building from the impact point. The Pentagon is five separate central buildings. They were in the C ring, not the E ring, which was partially collapsed by the plane crash. The nose gear of the airplane was found in the alley between buildings, 200 paces from his office.

The next day, Bowman was tasked to do a damage assessment for phones and communication systems in the building. He had to go in and find where the lights were still on, where they were off, what kind of water damage had occurred.

After The Pentagon

Dr. Bowman made several short trips to Iraq, responsible for developing new equipment, delivering it the soldiers and conducting training. Bowman says in his experience over a two-year period, they found themselves under fire many times but never direct combat with enemy combatants. The emotions, the adrenaline rush of those moments, he says, were similar to his experience in the Pentagon on 9/11, where survival and taking care of others were the primary focus.

Thoughts on ISIS

"It's a complex situation." Dr. Bowman says it's important to our national security and safety in the United States to take steps to counter the current situation. This means we may need to consider working with groups we may not necessarily like to work with. Bowman says it may have been wiser to have left some troops in Iraq, and suggests considering our usage of troops stationed in Europe and Korea to ultimately protect the homeland.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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