U.S. Navy photo by PH2 (AW) Jim Watson

Protect and Defend

USAF photo by Lt. Col. Dave Lamp, USAFR

Colonel Tyrone “Woody” Woodyard ’85 felt the building shake and saw a fireball blaze past his Pentagon office window. From the distinctive sound and the smell of burning fuel, he knew it was an explosion. “I’d just seen the second World Trade Center tower get hit on television,” Woodyard says. “My gut feeling told me we were under terrorist attack.”
      Woodyard’s first instinct was to go and help the injured until professional emergency medical personnel arrived. But he was pushed back from the crash site by security guards and told to evacuate the building immediately. In his job as public affairs advisor to the chief of staff of the Air Force,

Woodyard knew his primary duty was to set up an alternate media center away from the Pentagon and to give the media an accurate head count of Air Force personnel. Then he was sent home to get some rest. “It was impossible to rest because the phone never stopped ringing,” Woodyard says. “It was heartwarming to hear from some of my SU friends—I knew that faith, family, and friends would get us through the difficult days ahead.”
      The next morning the public affairs office was up and running again in the Pentagon. “It was eerie,” Woodyard says. “Soot covered the floor and the smell of smoke and fuel filled the air—everyone was on edge.” He briefed the secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force chief of staff and provided facts to the media without divulging classified information that would put military personnel at risk. “We also sent a message through the media to the American public that the Air Force was resolved and determined to resist aggression from hostile forces,” Woodyard says. “We wanted to assure the American people that their armed forces were ready to protect and defend.”

—Christine Yackel

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Main Home Page Contents Chancellor's Message Opening Remarks
Reflections In Memoriam Time of Terror Lessons of Hope
Future Impact Voices

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