Fires from the burning jet fuel had now spread, and the Pentagon itself was burning. The heat and choking smoke forced Morehead and the small group of rescuers toward the Pentagon’s central courtyard. As they reached the fresh air and sunshine of the courtyard, they encountered a scene unimaginable just an hour before. Medics in bright blue vests were moving among dozens of injured civilians and service members while administering first aid. It was then that Kerzie stopped Morehead with the chilling words, “Sir, we’ve got to go back; I can hear them screaming.”
“The Navy guys knew what to do,” Morehead remembered with admiration for the members of his sister service. “They treated it like a ship-board fire.” Following the sailors’ lead, Morehead, Kerzie and Heygood grabbed fire extinguishers and, wrapping their heads in wet shirts, inched their way into the hole drilled through the first three rings of the building by the nose of the aircraft. “Two of us at a time crawled into the hole and discharged our fire extinguishers until they were all used up. We couldn’t stay in there for more than a few seconds,” so intense was the heat and smoke.
By now, Arlington County firefighters had reached the scene and began to assert control over the fire fighting and rescue operations. Morehead and the others were told to evacuate the area — but they continued to search for ways to assist. At the request of medical personnel, Morehead and his comrades moved medical supplies from the Pentagon’s dispensary to a larger triage site established near the lagoon outside the building’s river entrance. At one point, Morehead used a pair of oversize bolt cutters to break open a locked cabinet containing badly needed medical supplies.
“Somebody grabbed me and said ‘we have a life-or-death situation.’ We had to get an injured lady to the hospital right away.” Morehead accosted the driver of every moving vehicle in the vicinity, including an Air Force general and a local police officer whose K9 partner snarled and barked when Morehead opened the van’s door. Morehead quickly settled on a personal vehicle driven by a lieutenant colonel who was eager to assist. By now, the whole country knew what was happening at the Pentagon. Traffic around the building, always heavy, had come to a complete standstill as roads were blocked and emergency vehicles converged on the scene.
“I sat up in the passenger’s side window and yelled for people to move their cars and let us through,” but the going was too slow and Morehead feared for the life of the injured passenger. Spying a Virginia highway patrolman traveling in the opposite direction, Morehead jumped from his vehicle and flagged the officer down. Quickly explaining the emergency, Morehead convinced the patrolman to escort them to the hospital.
“He got on his loud speaker and began shouting at cars to move out of the way, and they did, but as soon as the patrol car got through, the other drivers would pull back in. They didn’t realize we were trying to follow him.” Again Morehead left the vehicle. “I was running between the rows of cars just pounding on them with my fist. There were a lot of Mercedes and BMWs that got dents from a Clemson ring that day.”
Coming upon a large pickup truck, Morehead again took the initiative. “I explained to the driver that we had a ‘life or death,’ and we were trying to get her to the hospital. He just nodded and said ‘follow me.’ And he literally started pushing cars out of the way.” Due to the efforts of Eddy Morehead and the others involved in the makeshift emergency transport, the woman’s life was saved.
But Morehead’s day wasn’t done.