November 17, 2002 at 10:22 PM CST - Updated August 27 at 4:28 AM
He stood just yards away from the place where a plane slammed into the Pentagon on September 11th. And he's alive to share the tale. Sunday Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell told his story of survival in Shreveport. News 12 spoke with the veteran of the attack on America. As smoke billowed from our nation's defense headquarters on September 11th,somewhere in the middle of all this rubble stood Lieutenant Colonel Brian Birdwell. This white circle show's the location of Col.Birdwell's office...where he and two co-workers were that morning. Col. Brian Birdwell: "I stepped out about 9:35 to go to the restroom and that was the last time I saw Cheryl and Sandy." It happened on his way back from the restroom at about 9:40. Col. Brian Birdwell: " I heard the sound of the plane impacting which was louder than anything I've heard before." And immediately Col. Birdwell felt the brunt of the impact. Col. Brian Birdwell: "I was just tossed around like a rag doll trying to get to my feet. I was on fire. The building around me was on fire. The smoke was coming out." Mel Birdwell: "It's difficult to explain to you the feeling. It's just surreal to know that your husband is in an area of a building that's on fire and there's nothing you can do about it." Col. Birdwell collapsed under one of the few working sprinklers at the Pentagon that morning...and was eventually rescued. Telling their story to an audience at Summer Grove Baptist Church Sunday...he and his wife say it's a miracle that he's alive. Brian: "I was walking toward the path of the plane when the plane came in the building. I was 15 to 20 yards from the point of impact. When an 80 ton airline traveling 250 mile per hour with over 10 thousand gallons of jet fuel slams into a building, I'm not here because I'm a tough guy. I'm here because of the sovereign hand of the Lord." And that's why the birdwells say they tell their story. Col. Birdwell has gone through more than 25 surgeries...and more than a year later he's still on the road to recovery. Brian: I've got a few more surgeries to go but I have a lot to be thankful for. My eye site my fingers." And living to tell the tale of one of America's worst terrorist attacks. In march Colonel Birdwell returned to work part time at the Pentagon.