Pentagon Transcript: Stephen McGraw

casseia's picture

I've tried to make this transcript as faithful to what I can hear as possible; however, I have paraphrased what I'm terming "interviewer prompts" or IP.

Well, uh I'd been umm a trial attorney for the Justice Department about five and a half years and then had gone into the seminary for four years to study for the priesthood, was ordained in 2001 in June and about this was about three months after my ordination as a priest when I found myself on the way to a graveside service for prayers to say at the graveside at Arlington National Cemetery which is right near the Pentagon and I basically made a turn too early umm on my way to the service at Arlington National and ended up right in front of the Pentagon on Route 27 which goes just right in front of the building [IP: And you didn't even know it was the Pentagon.] I didn't even know it was the Pentagon. I mean I've grown up I've grown up in this area ahh but I am basically just never over there besides you can't really tell it's five-sided anyway so I never I didn't even know it was the Pentagon but I was just in traffic. My main focus was that I was late for this service, and we were stuck in totally stand-still traffic, just sitting dead still on the highway ahh with the rest of the cars, right right in front of the lawn there. I was in the left lane of the highway, of Route 27 umm on the way umm with the Pentagon on my right, so I was on the traffic on the side of traffic closest to the Pentagon and basically without warning there was just the sensation of something coming over the top of us. I didn't see anything in that first that first that first instant but it was just the sense of something coming over the top of our cars maybe about twenty, twenty-five feet. It seems the plane was so low that it hit a light pole uh that was um just um on the edge of the highway on the far side there um before it came over the highway it clipped this pole which I heard ended up being knocked over and hitting a taxi which was near near my car. [IP: was it the whole pole or part?] Uhhh that's a good that's a good question. Umm uh my recollection is is vague on that point but umm [IP: Did you see the light pole get knocked down?] I didn't actually see the light pole go over or anything, no. I believe I later saw you know the evidence of the pole having been knocked over umm and I think that was just after the fact [IP: You deduced it.] piece of the piece of the light pole. I think I may have only recalled seeing the top of the pole so maybe that was the only part of the pole that got knocked off. And it may not have been the entire pole getting knocked down but um there was that I think that may have been the first noise perhaps in that first second that was sensed the noise the clipping the light pole because the next instant was simply I guess the natural reaction, looking over to my right and cause the plane came right over and I did see the plane as it came in. My recollections are simply that it came in somewhat controlled and straight. I mean, my my sense was that it was coming in for a crash landing. I remember when I was about fourteen, umm the Air Florida plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge right here in Washington, my sophomore year of high school and uh just again a tragic accident just right after take off. And the pilot I guess that was just the best he could do. And so that was my sense although it seemed so strange crash(ing?) just that he'd some some whatever had happened he was just um making that crash landing but just did it right in front of the building and then crashed into the building immediately. [IP: Did it hit the trailers?] I did not did not see anything like that. I will say that (pause) I have a memory ehm which was you might say revived after the fact of the plane uh bouncing on the lawn before it went into the building. I that was my -- that came to me basically after actually hearing other witnesses uh hearing of other witness testimony. I heard that other witnesses had supported that the plane had bounced you know had hit the ground before it it crashed into the building and then that when I heard that I thought I kind of it sort of umm provoked something or umm I thought yeah that's the image that's the image I remember having. I think I kind of had the image at first and then it sounded so str- seemed kind of strange for it to actually have bounced first in that split second and then it kind of came back to me more after people said that I thought well yeah that is how that is my impression of what happened, that it bounced first onto the uh hit the ground at some point first hit the ground and then went into the building. The memory that was clearest that I had from the beginning which never left me was just after the crash the plane just disa-disappearing I mean into the building basically, just disappearing but then just the the these two out of the top two windows of that side of the Pentagon just this these two huge billows of of like fire coming out [IP: top two windows?] the top two windows they were they were I mean the plane went in lower but somehow it seemed like it was those top two windows more or less in the middle of the building that the flame just came billowing out and and at the same time as the explosion as everything those two just those two billows of flame it seemed out of those top two windows was what I recalled. [IP: Okay and immediately after the plane had crashed you got out of your car? 45 seconds later?] Right, perhaps about 45 seconds later yes my my plane was my car was in the left hand lane and after that initial moment when I seemed to remember the kind of the gasp around me from the other cars no one was going anywhere in the traffic so it was in a sense it was easy enough to just um grab my prayer book for the sick and the dying, my holy oils for anointing the sick and the dying and my purple stole which priests wear when they're administering they're administering to the need- to the sick. And so I got out of the car, and just left it there and walked across the one or two lanes of traffic whatever it was I was in the left hand lane walked across the rest of the traffic umm and just went over the guardrail and just was on the lawn there in the first minute or so I guess. [cut -- IP: and you actually saw it enter the building?] Yes, yes, yes I definitely watched as it went into the building.

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Adam Syed's picture

Thanks Casseia!

You rock!!!

gretavo's picture

welcome to WTCD!

I resized your avatar which was a bit too ginormous, sorry.

Adam Syed's picture

Thanks!

Glad you did 'cause I don't know how.