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Wednesday, September 11, 2019 3:03 pm

Speaker recalls Sept. 11, 2001 to university students

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Edward "Sonny" Masso was a Navy captain working at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, when a hijacked jet airliner slammed into the huge building on Sept. 11, 2001. 

He described the scene of death and destruction to Trine University students today, the 18th anniversary of the attack. Most were young children or babies the day that Middle Eastern terrorists crashed planes in Arlington, New York and Pennsylvania. 

"But I think about this every single day. And I'm far from over about any of this," Masso, now a retired rear admiral and business consultant, said in remarks streamed live from Trine's T. Furth Center for Performing Arts in Angola. 

"And I'm not OK with the now-18-year-old security processes at our airports. I'm a private citizen now and I can say this, but I don't personally care for the Patriot Act," Masso said about the federal law that greatly expanded the government's surveillance powers after 9/11. 

"I resent that these cowards changed the behavior of our country in so many profound ways," the California native said about the al-Qaida terrorists who planned and executed the attacks. 

Masso recalled the Pentagon attack during Trine's Distinguished Speaker Series 9/11 Memorial. 

He said he was on an escalator, aware of two earlier jet crashes into the World Trade Center in New York, when a plane hit the headquarters of the Department of Defense. 

"I thought at first it was a bomb. The earthquake-like jolt was unlike anything I'd ever felt before. The entire Pentagon shook, the lights went out, and the escalator went off track," he said. 

"It was dark, smoke was abundant and billowing, and I could hear loud cries from behind me," Masso said. 

For more on this story, see Thursday's print edition of The Journal Gazette, or return to www.journalgazette.net after 1 a.m. 

bfrancisco@jg.net