Twenty years ago, when American Airlines Flight No. 77 was hijacked by five terrorists and deliberately flown into the west side of the Pentagon military headquarters in Washington, D.C., one of the victims was 52-year-old Sgt. Major Larry Strickland, U.S. Army, who was looking forward to enjoying the leisure of retirement in a few days.
Larry Strickland grew up in Edmonds, and was a 1967 graduate of Edmonds High School. Sgt. Major Larry Strickland is among those local victims of war and terrorism honored on the Veterans Memorial Monument located at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. His complete story appeared in My Edmonds News on November 8, 2014.
9/11 – a time remembered
It was Tuesday morning, Sept. 11, 2001, and even though technically it was his day off, Sgt. Major Larry Strickland was at work as usual, when the conference room at the Pentagon where he was attending a meeting, took a direct hit from the hijacked airliner. It was days before his body was found and removed from the wreckage.
With the 20th anniversary of 9/11 this month, the Smithsonian magazine for September 2021 published a timely article, which included an account by Lt. Col. Danny Pummill, who was an eyewitness to the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.
Danny Pummill, a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, has some vivid memories of that morning in September—one that at first seemed like any other morning. After serving as a battalion commander at Fort Riley, Kansas, he was the new kid on the block at the Pentagon, and had become accustomed to a bit of hazing.
That Tuesday in September, he was attending a meeting with Gen. Timothy Maude and others in the conference room located on the west side of the Pentagon. One of those in attendance was Sgt. Major Larry Strickland.
The group soon found they were three copies short of the briefing papers needed for the meeting. Strickland, the well-organized, go-to person, offered to get more copies. However, the general had other ideas and stopped him. The general then instructed the newcomer, Lt. Col. Danny Pummill, to make the copies.
Away from the conference room and standing next to his desk, Lt. Col. Pummill was gathering the papers, when suddenly there was an explosion, and the roof and the walls caved in. With black smoke and fire in the hallway, he saw that those in the room he had just left were trapped.
Gen. Maude, Sgt. Major Strickland, and everyone in the conference room died that morning, Sept. 11—a morning that earlier had seemed so ordinary.
— By Betty Lou Gaeng
Betty Gaeng is a former long-time resident of Lynnwood and Edmonds, coming to the area in 1933. Although now living in Anchorage, she occasionally writes about the history and the people of early-day Lynnwood, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace. She is also an honorary member of the Edmonds Cemetery Board.
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