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9-11 Forms a Lifetime Friendship


One of the lifetime friendships that grew out of the terror attacks was formed when two voices connected in the dark, smoke-and-dust-filled remains of a Pentagon office shortly after a doomed commercial airliner struck the building.

Little did Pentagon worker Wayne Sinclair and Pentagon police officer-turned-rescuer Isaac Ho'opi'i know their lives would become inextricably linked that fateful day. Wayne Sinclair says the day began like any other.

Mr. Sinclair: "I got to work about 6 o'clock in the morning, and made coffee, like I always do. And I was working on some computers for the Army. And later that morning we got a phone call that the World Trade Center had been hit by a plane. And we thought maybe it was an accident. When we got on the Internet, on CNN, we saw the second tower get hit."

Ms. Brummett: "Wayne, you talked about being on the Internet. Describe to me that moment in time when things went terribly wrong at the Pentagon."

Mr. Sinclair: "After the second tower got hit, then we knew it wasn't an accident; it was actually an attack of some kind. But we had no way of knowing that the Pentagon was the next target, so we didn't prepare for it and we didn't think anything about it. And then, shortly after that, shortly after 9:30, we were hit. And I was maybe 100-150 feet from the actual point of impact of the plane, one ring in from where it was hit. I was in the D-ring. And like I said, we really couldn't see anything through the fire and smoke."

Ms. Brummett: "You were in your chair?"

Mr. Sinclair: "Yes."

Ms. Brummett: "What was that like? Were you basically jolted out of your chair? Was it much more intense than that? Did you hit the floor on hands and knees, fall on your back?"

Mr. Sinclair: "Well, I was kind of jolted in the chair, and other people in the room, some of those people were knocked out of their chairs, and the walls and the ceiling was kind of crumbling around us. And at that point we had to crawl over the rubble in our room to get to a kind of open area. But like I said, there was so much smoke and fire, we didn't know which way was out, until we heard Isaac calling from the outside."

Mr. Ho'opi'i: "'Hey, is anybody in here?' And that's when I heard people calling for help. All I could yell out was "Head towards my voice. Come towards my voice. Can you hear me? Keep on coming. Head towards my voice. I'm over here. Keep on coming." And gradually people came popping out of the dark."

Ms. Brummett: "Wayne, tell me how you felt the moment that you heard Isaac's voice cry out, 'Come to my voice. Come to my voice.'"

Mr. Sinclair: "I've told people I guess that Isaac sure was my guardian angel that day."

Ms. Brummett: "Isaac, you have said that you remember something about each person you found."

Mr. Ho'opi'i: "Yes."

Ms. Brummett: "What do you remember about Wayne?"

Mr. Ho'opi'i: "The thing I can still remember about Wayne is usually - I come from Hawaii, and our greeting is always, you know, you give them a hug and stuff like, but I was real gentle because he just came out from the burn unit. But one of the things that he said to me, that didn't hit me during the course of the event, he said, 'Hey, Isaac, there is nothing in this world I can ever repay you or give you for saving my life.' And I was speechless. Because the only thing that went through my mind is saying, 'I think you have, Wayne. You're alive.' And our bondmanship is like we're friends for life. The bondmanship that I've gained with the Sinclair family is amazing, fabulous."

Ms. Brummett: "Wayne, talk about that friendship."

Mr. Sinclair: "Well, we went to a couple of events, Isaac and I, and Isaac's family. A couple of weeks ago I invited Isaac and his family up to our family reunion, up in western Maryland. And he showed up with his wife and his daughter. So we've bonded real well. And I said, 'Isaac, you've got an open invite every year for our family reunion.'"

Mr. Ho'opi'i: "And the thing about it, Wayne, one thing I observed is every person within their family has a certain role in their family. And there is more personal gain for me knowing that hey, Wayne is like "the man" at his family reunion."

Mr. Sinclair: "Isaac got to see the fun side of me, the crazy side, at the family reunion."

Mr. Ho'opi'i: "Yes. By the way, Wayne, how are you?"

Mr. Sinclair: "I'm doing pretty good. I'm taking it a day at a time. I've got an appointment coming up, another evaluation of the burns, on the 16th of September. And at that time they will tell me if I can get rid of these gloves or if I need another operation, or just how they're coming along."

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