‘It’s hard not to be emotional about it’: Gaston County man inside Pentagon on 9/11 shares his story

DALLAS, N.C. — Jim Bailey spends his days taking care of customers at the Dallas restaurant he owns, but when the world around him gets quiet, he returns to the day that never fades far from his memory.

In 2001, Bailey was serving as a colonel with the Air National Guard. On Sept. 11, he was meeting with a team of military specialists at the Pentagon to work on a security plan for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.

As the group was watching the situation at the World Trade Center unfold, they heard a loud explosion.

“All the alarms in the building went off,” he told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon.

Instead of evacuating, Bailey chose to stay and help. As he saw other workers coming from the blast zone, he realized how dangerous the situation was.

“It was pretty obvious when they came back and there were burned holes in their clothing,” he said. “Their hair was singed and they started telling stories of trying to get out.”

He said one survivor told him that the jet fuel had created fireballs that shot down the hallway and that they saw someone get consumed by one.

“So many people really don’t know what 9/11 was all about that day,” he said.

“When the quiet time comes, it all comes back and it’s hard not to be emotional about it.”

Bailey keeps a plaque on his office wall that is another reminder of the tragedies that happened on 9/11.

It’s a limestone fragment from the Pentagon that was given to him for his service on that day.

“Never forget,” he said.

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