MANSFIELD, LA (KSLA) - It’s been 17 years since ago, terrorists flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 189 people.
At that time, Louisiana Representative Kenny Cox and his wife Candie were living in Northern Virginia. Cox was assigned to the Pentagon with the U.S. Army, working for the Chief of Staff for the Army.
Yet to this day, he can still recall and probably always will, the moments our nation came under attack on September 11, 2001.
"I remember it was a beautiful day. You could see what looked like for miles and the skies were clear. It was peaceful and we went in and everyone went about their business," he said.
Shortly thereafter news started to spread about an attack on New York City's Twin Towers and when Flight 77 slammed into the Pentagon.
"It hit us with the force, like an earthquake," explained Cox, "We were rushing out, and there were people and smoke and flames and people on fire folks are running and screaming.
"I mean I was running I had them brand new Corcoran shoes on and they were sounding like a brand new pair of All Stars when you hit the basketball court you can hear them 'squeak, squeak, squeak, squeak' and then all at once I heard a quiet voice in the mist of all that chaos and people."
The voice told him to turn around an help, which left him trapped in a construction area.
"I can't go left or right, I can only go forward and the gate is locked. I took a deep breath and I asked God, 'Is this how it ends?' (and) a man stepped out of the smoke and had one key in his hand. He said, 'Son do you want to get in?' He put the key in the lock, he opened the lock up and we pulled the chain out, and I pulled the gate out because you could see people on the other side hanging out of the inside the building, because the smoke was coming out. He didn't say anything after that, and he didn't come with me, and I never seen him again."
Now in rescue mode, Cox helped form a human net.
“When they would jump, we would catch them. We put them out to the center court,” Cox pauses, “It was just gruesome, people jumping out on fire.”
He eventually went back into the building with two other men, looking for survivors.
"In the door were two guys in white painter's clothes. One was a heavyset black guy, the other was a real skinny white guy, that's what they looked like to me, and they never said anything they just followed us, and as we were going upstairs you could hear these people screaming, screaming for their lives."
He said all the while the men in the paint clothes stayed close, pushing them along.
"One of the worst non-sounds I've ever heard in my life that really sticks in my head and never will leave is that all at once the quiet," explained Cox, "The cry for help just got less and less and less until there was no sound, just a roar of the smoke in the flame above us and then despair set in."
Battered and bruised, Cox and the two others were able to walk out of the Pentagon.
"Only three of us came out. The other two guys nobody ever seen before, we even rushed back to see if we could find them and couldn't."
To this day, Cox says not only surviving the September 11th attacks, but also being able to help others survive is nothing short of divine intervention.
"I have to say it's by the grace of God that I still live here today."
Cox went on to retire from the Army a few years later as a Lieutenant Colonel. He's since returned home to Mansfield, where the love of his life remains at his side. He now serves as a State Representative for District 23.
“No matter what anybody thinks, all these conspiracy theory people, America is the greatest nation in the world.”
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