DCANG

The Andrews Air Force Base Stand Down: How the 'Capital Guardians' Failed to Guard the Capital on 9/11

"Thank God that guy's there! Where has he been?"

- Firefighter Mike Smith, upon seeing the first military fighter jetarriving over the Pentagon, 10:40 a.m., September 11, 2001


At the time the 9/11 attacks began, many of the pilots with the District of Columbia Air National Guard (DCANG) were in the headquarters of the 121st Fighter Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. They had been suspicious upon learning of the first crash in New York, but when a second plane hit the World Trade Center the emergency became obvious. "We're under a terrorist attack!" someone yelled. One DCANG officer at the base exclaimed, "Well, holy shit, if this is a terrorist attack, we need to get something in the air!" According to Lt. Col. Steve Chase, who was at the operations desk there: "People just launched into action. There was a buzz in the unit." [1]