Thirteen years ago on that sunny September day, Rob Maness was in his Pentagon office when he first heard a report that a plane had crashed nearby.
At that point, he didn’t even realize American Airlines Flight 77, hijacked by terrorists, had actually slammed into the very building he was in, killing 125 of his colleagues.
“I didn’t actually feel anything,” Maness, a Republican now running for Senate in Louisiana, recalled in a Wednesday phone conversation with The Daily Caller.
“My wife worked in a building south of us, so I called her. My first reaction was to call her office. And I just called her and said, ‘hey are you OK’ and she goes, ‘yeah but we’re hearing a plane hit your building.’”
Turns out, the area hit was just “just around the corner” from his office, he said, maybe a five minute walk or so away.
“She was OK,” Maness said of his wife. “So I just said, ‘go home.’ I told her to get our kids out of school — we had a kindergartner and a third grader at the time — and take them to the house.”
“About thirty seconds after I got off the phone, smoke started coming through the ventilators,” Maness recalled.
He said he knew one person killed at the Pentagon on September 11th, an assistant who had been an acquaintance.
While the Pentagon was evacuated, Maness, who worked in the command center, said he didn’t immediately leave. He stuck around until late in the afternoon to volunteer however he could, he said.
“We all wanted to stay in, and try to help,” he said.
Maness, who served in the Air Force for 32 years, is now running as an underdog in Louisiana’s Senate race.
According to polls, Maness is trailing Republican Bill Cassidy and incumbent Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu. But Maness has been endorsed by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and other conservative groups.
Under state law, all candidates, Republican and Democrat, run in Louisiana’s open primary on Nov. 4. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent in that contest, the top two vote getters proceed to a December run-off.