Pentagon Survivor Shares His 9/11 Story

For one September 11th survivor, returning to work every day at the Pentagon is often a struggle.

A jet airliner is lined up on one of the World Trade Center towers in New York Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001. In the most devastating terrorist onslaughts ever waged against the United States, knife-wielding hijackers crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center on Tuesday, toppling its twin 110-story towers. (AP Photo/Carmen Taylor)

For one September 11th survivor, returning to work every day at the Pentagon is often a struggle.

Ten years later most of his physical wounds have healed emotionally he has good days and bad.

As Danielle Nottingham reports being able share his story with others helps this former soldier recover.

It's sometimes hard for John Yates to go to his Pentagon office.

"One day it took me an hour and a half of just sitting there, trying to work through the process, but I always came in," says 9/11 Pentagon Survivor John Yates.

Still fresh in his mind, hijacked Flight 77 crashing into the building on September 11th 2001.

The Army civilian security manager was in a 2nd floor conference room with 4 co-workers watching news coverage of the twin towers.

"There was no warning. I didn't hear anything. Everybody's eyes were glued to the TV. It was just this tremendous explosion and fire that came from behind me and over my head," says Yates.

Yates was the only one in the room to survive.

184 people were killed in the attack, 125 were Pentagon employees.

All the victims are honored here.. steps away from where the plane hit.

"I felt guilty. Why me? There were two people to my left and two people to my right, and I’m the only one that survived. Why?" says Yates.

Sharing his survival story helps Yates wrestle with "why." He endured a long recovery from second and third degree burns.

Ten years later, Yates can make a fist and hold a golf club. But he struggles with post traumatic stress.

"I think I'm back to normal. But something will set me off. Something will happen. I’ll read something. I’ll hear something. And it just takes me back to that day. 9:38 that morning," says Yates.

After ceremonies marking the anniversary, Yates plans to visit Arlington National Cemetery to honor the friends he lost that morning.

Danielle Nottingham, CBS News, The Pentagon.

Yates still sees a therapist every week, but says neither he nor his family let the events of September 11th control their lives.


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