By SHERRY DIGMON
Most folks remember the events of September 11, 2001. If you didn’t see it live on TV, you certainly saw the replay of events dozens of times then and through the years. It was an intense time in America’s history.
Imagine being on the inside of the government during the terrorist attack on the country. That’s where retired Lieutenant Colonel Robert Darling, USMC (Ret.) found himself on 9/11.
At the United Bank Ag Luncheon held Thursday, February 14, Lt. Col. Darling talked about his experiences inside the White House bunker, where he worked alongside Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.
They were in the PEOC, the President’s Emergency Operations Center, deep under the White House.
“It was a defining hour in my life,” Darling said. “I was authorized in 2010 to tell my story. [There were] ordinary Americans willing to do extraordinary things to save each other. That’s what this story is about.”
He gave an almost hour-by-hour account of the events.
“We were watching a full-blown terrorist attack unfolding before our eyes,” he said.
Being in the bunker, watching events and manning the phone with calls coming in from high-ranking government officials, Darling was witness to details most would never know. When White House personnel were ordered to evacuate, the order was, “Ladies, take off your heels and run!”
He heard the orders given to shoot down commercial aircraft if they did not comply with orders to land or aircraft – aircraft that carried Americans. Thankfully, that action was not needed.
It was the first time in history the airways were cleared.
Lt. Col. Darling has written a book about his experience – 24 Hours Inside the President’s Bunker 9-11-01 The White House.