In the few moments that Brian Birdwell stepped away from his Pentagon office, his life was saved. But the historic crash of Flight 77 happened right next to him.
Army Lieutenant Colonel Birdwell was brought to the hospital with fifteen other survivors. Many patients had second and third degree burns covering the majority of their bodies.
The doctors, nurses and staff at the Washington Hospital Center's burn unit expected the worst.
Medical staff members say they had seen burns this severe, but not in such numbers. They relied on each other to keep going.
"We had many crying sessions all of us," said rehabilitation therapist Amy Brodsky. "We talked a lot."
Birdwell faced months of excruciating recovery at the burn unit. Through faith and his wife's support, Birdwell can look back at these 10 years.
"Christ stepped out of the perfection of Heaven to earn his purple heart,: he said. "I don't have a whole lot to complain about when you think about that."