skip to main content

9/11 Inside the Pentagon

55 minutes

(Describer) By the Potomac River stands The Pentagon, with five sides and a gap in the center. Titles: September 11, 2001. 9:37 am. A jet flies through a blue sky and the screen goes black.

(Describer) Flames appear in a room.

(Describer) Flames burn in windows viewed from outside, where dark smoke rises from the building. Titles: Twenty-thousand people are working in the Pentagon when American Airlines Flight 77 strikes. Their fight for survival remains largely unknown.

(Describer) Firefighters' headlamps cut through a haze, and part of the main building collapses. Title: This is their story. The woman wears a Purple Heart medal.

(Describer) She tries to keep speaking, but lowers her head and holds a hand to her face.

(Describer) Against the background of a diagram of the building, title: 9/11 Inside the Pentagon.

(Describer) The screen goes black.

(Describer) Video footage shows a fiery explosion, then smoke drifting and a wall of flame. Inside, a hand reaches, and a chair falls.

(Describer) Outside, plumes of smoke rise and flames are visible through more windows. An office chair burns.

(Describer) A jet streaks across the blue sky. Titles: 8:46 am, 51 minutes earlier, an unprecedented attack is underway. The Pentagon - Arlington, Virginia. Steven Carter:

(Describer) Two men walk down a wide corridor.

(Describer) New York City First Responder:

(Describer) Mike Regan:

(Describer) Captain William J. Toti:

(Describer) FAA New York Center:

(Describer) ...FAA New York Tracon.

(Describer) Three objects fall from the tower not yet hit. Viewed from further away, a jet flies straight into that tower.

(Describer) People on the street stare. A first repsonder:

(Describer) Colin Scoggins:

(Describer) NORAD:

(Describer) American Dispatch:

(Describer) Regan

(Describer) The FAA:

(Describer) Scoggins

(Describer) FAA Indianapolis:

(Describer) FAA Washington:

(Describer) A jet descends quickly.

(Describer) The Pentagon stands by a freeway. Steve Vogel, Author, The Pentagon: A History:

(Describer) ...shown in an animated diagram.

(Describer) It has three levels of windows. Colonel Marilyn Wills:

(Describer) She looks down, nodding, then collects herself.

(Describer) In a re-enactment, people enter a meeting room.

(Describer) Northeast Air Defense Sector:

(Describer) The U.S. Capitol Building is shown. Scoggins:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) Firefighter Alan Wallace:

(Describer) The burning towers are shown again.

(Describer) A helicopter passes the Washington Monument. Toti:

(Describer) A jet ascends over the Pentagon. Carter:

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) Wills:

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) Wills

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) Wallace:

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) Wallace

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) Video footage of one side of the building goes black. Title: On board Flight 77 are 53 passengers, 6 crew and over 36-thousand pounds of jet fuel, traveling more than 500 miles per hour.

(Describer) The explosion appears on the video footage.

(Describer) Dust falls on file folders. In smoky darkness, a leg falls and a shoe slips. A flaming sheet of paper falls. Toti:

(Describer) Plumes of smoke rise, viewed from across the freeway. Wills:

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) A wall of smoke rises, viewed from across a field and a parking lot around a corner. Flames glow in windows.

(Describer) Wallace:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) Willis

(Describer) Wallace:

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) Wills:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) An exterior wall is gone.

(Describer) Flames rise from a window. Vogel:

(Describer) Someone drives a car.

(Describer) Ambulances pass on the freeway. Carter:

(Describer) Vogel

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) On the animated diagram, flames move into the B Ring.

(Describer) Light shines through a hole in a wall. Carter collects himself.

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) It lies in the grass.

(Describer) Amdist debris, a man and woman run in different directions and another man just stands.

(Describer) Wallace:

(Describer) Dispatch:

(Describer) Ed Hannon:

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) Hannon:

(Describer) On the diagram, the impact cuts through it.

(Describer) Several firefighters walk through the grass. Hannon:

(Describer) In a reenactment, a fire fighter enters.

(Describer) With lights on their helmets, they head through smoke and darkness. On the diagram, Hannon is shown a ring and a corner away from Wills, who's inside an external wall.

(Describer) Wills

(Describer) People crawl in the reenactment.

(Describer) She lowers the sweater.

(Describer) Meanwhile in New York, one of the towers starts to collapse. Title: 10:05 am.

(Describer) On the street, people back away. Vogel:

(Describer) In the reenactment, fire fighters carefully make their way through the smoke and dust. Hannon:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) Hannon

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) An external wall crumbles.

(Describer) Hannon

(Describer) Toti

(Describer) More flames are exposed with the walls gone.

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) A firehose sprays a tower of water.

(Describer) The water goes into the gash which is four stories hgh. Hannon:

(Describer) They continue on toward the flames.

(Describer) Viewed outside, plumes of smoke keep rising and flames are on the ground. Vogel:

(Describer) People run in New York.

(Describer) Firefighters move on inside while more emergency vehicles arrive.

(Describer) One tends to a injured person on a walkway. Regan:

(Describer) Structural specialist Leo Titus Junior:

(Describer) Regan

(Describer) Titus

(Describer) Two men help a woman walk. Toti over the grass.

(Describer) He turns back to the building.

(Describer) He runs back.

(Describer) Toti and others tend to her on the grass.

(Describer) More people are treated by a line of ambulances as the fire continues.

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Titus:

(Describer) Regan

(Describer) Debris is piled up in the dimness.

(Describer) Titus

(Describer) On the diagram, Regan and Titus are just inside, with Wills three rings away. In the reenactment, someone crawls through the smoke. Wills

(Describer) One hand grabs another.

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) The printer flies in slow-motion. Vogel:

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Vogel

(Describer) Wills

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) Wills

(Describer) People run with a stretcher.

(Describer) She wipes away tears.

(Describer) Viewed from above, walls are scorched black on either side of the gash, and smoke keeps rising.

(Describer) Bags of clear liquid are laid out on pads on the ground. Soldiers and first responders gather around them.

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) A jet moves across the sky. FAA Command center:

(Describer) Scoggins:

(Describer) Smoke drifts around a field by a forest. People gather around a large hole.

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) More smoke rises from the building. Carter:

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Hannon:

(Describer) People watch the smoke pouring from the gash at a distance.

(Describer) Regan

(Describer) Inside, flames cover a wall. Outside, smoke rises from various locations, including two windows. Titus:

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Lights search the darkness. Titus.

(Describer) Photos from afterward show areas covered with many small pieces of debris, larger pieces twisted and unrecognizable. Titus.

(Describer) Regan

(Describer) They move through a red haze, while military officers talk outside. Vogel:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) A helicopter is overhead.

(Describer) Security men run across the grass and crowds of survivors start moving away from the building.

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) People roll stretchers quickly and load casualties into ambulances. A blood-stained woman's shoe is left behind.

(Describer) Hannon

(Describer) People climb a hill beside the freeway.

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) Carter

(Describer) A view moves through a basement.

(Describer) First Responder:

(Describer) The courtyard in the middle of the Pentagon has trees and small buildings.

(Describer) Hannon:

(Describer) First Responder:

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) Six walkways lead to a building in the center. Hannon.

(Describer) Sunshine filters through the leaves of the tree. Carter.

(Describer) Hannon

(Describer) They're shown in the reenactment. Carter.

(Describer) Something flies past the Washington Monument. Hannon.

(Describer) Carter

(Describer) The plane appears smaller than a commercial jet. It's a military plane.

(Describer) Hannon

(Describer) Some men point. The plane starts to bank.

(Describer) Toti:

(Describer) A view from a parking lot turns from the smoke to the fighter moving away.

(Describer) Carter:

(Describer) Hannon:

(Describer) The fighter tilts to one side, dipping its wing, and flies off.

(Describer) The view of it is obscured by the smoke continuing to rise from the Pentagon. Scoggins:

(Describer) Again, people are shown rushing away from the building. Hannon:

(Describer) Viewed from just above, a section of roof is covered in ash.

(Describer) Lines of flame keep burning in the gash. Another fire flares on the roof. Carter:

(Describer) Donald Rumsfeld:

(Describer) White smoke rises from the roof. Later, a huge U.S. flag is draped over a wall.

(Describer) An Army seal stands in cluttered office space and workers walk down a corridor.

(Describer) Wills:

(Describer) Vogel:

(Describer) Firefighting and recovery continues.

(Describer) At night, smaller fires burn on the roof. Hannon:

(Describer) Regan:

(Describer) Wallace:

(Describer) Scoggins:

(Describer) Titus:

(Describer) One sign has a painting of the Pentagon with a heart on it. Toti:

(Describer) Wills:

(Describer) A flag flies from a recovery vehicle. Carter:

(Describer) At night, a series of curved benches have a yellow glow underneath them, lit from a small trough of water. Titles: The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Arlington, Virginia. April 2016. Each bench is named in honor of someone lost from the Pentagon and Flight 77.

(Describer) Wills walks among them.

(Describer) She stops at one with a plaque for Marian H. Serva. She bends down to it, then crouches.

(Describer) She rests her head on the back of her hand on the bench, crying.

(Describer) In daytime, Carter sits on another bench. Title: Since 2001, Steve Carter has believed the people he saw trapped behind that window were killed.

(Describer) In the reenactment, he looks up at the window. Title: He was unaware that Colonel Marilyn Wills and the group she led to the window survived. They are meeting today for the first time.

(Describer) At dusk, he stands as she approaches him. They embrace.

(Describer) They hold hands.

(Describer) They hug again.

(Describer) Titles: Executive Producer / Supervising Director: Kirk Wolfinger. Produced by Lone Wolf Media for PBS and National Geographic Channels. Copyright 2016 Public Broadcasting Service, all rights reserved. This film is dedicated to the 184 people who lost their lives at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The rebuilt Pentagon is shown. Accessibility provided by the US Department of Education.

Transcript Options


Now Playing As: Captioned (English) (change)

Report a Problem

On September 11, 2001, American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and flown into the western side of the Pentagon, killing 189 people. On the 15th Anniversary of the attack, survivors and first responders shared their raw and vivid recollections of the day that forever changed the world. Though they helped define a generation, the individual acts of bravery and heroism that took place at the Pentagon are still relatively unknown.

Media Details

Runtime: 55 minutes

60-Second Presidents
Episode 2
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
60-Second Presidents
Episode 4
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
60-Second Presidents
Episode 5
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
60-Second Presidents
Episode 6
2 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
14 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
1 hour 31 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
America's Journey Through Slavery
Season 0 / Ep 5
13 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 10
All About the Holidays
Episode 18
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 19
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8
All About the Holidays
Episode 16
2 minutes
Grade Level: 4 - 8