MOLINE, Illinois-- Retired Brigadier General Brian Layer will mark September 11 this year, quietly, with family in Moline, reflecting on his colleagues at the Pentagon who didn't make it out alive.
"I think it's important to remember because I can still hug my kids and they can hug me. A lot of people who went to work that morning, didn't come home," he said.
The military man was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11 when the third plane hit.
"We heard that explosion and we kind of looked at each other, and then just a couple minutes later, somebody ran through and said, 'You gotta clear the building, it's on fire'," Layer recalled.
The West Point graduate with a stellar military resume calls 9-11 "the saddest day of my life."
"Because I think we all sort of collectively felt like we'd let the country down. Our job was to keep it safe and we'd been attacked," he said.
Layer was a Lt. Colonel then, and went on to help plan the military's response to the attack and later, lead troops in Iraq early in the war.