2010 nonfiction book< read all 1 reviews
September 11, 2001 shaped up to be a rather ordinary day for Lt. Col. Robert J. Darling, USMC. Lt. Col Darling was the Marine Corps representative in the White House Airlift Operations office whose mission was “to coordinate with the Department of Defense for the safe and timely travel of the President, the Vice President, the first family, and other designated VIP’s who work in direct support of the White House.” It was Darling who had organized President George Bush’s trip to Florida that week and if all went as planned the President would be returning to Washington after an appearance at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, FL. Lt. Col. Darling was a 14 year Marine Corps veteran who had seen considerable action as a helicopter pilot in Kuwait during the first Gulf War and upon his return to the States had been assigned to fly with the Nighthawks, the Marine Corps squadron that transports the President and Vice President of the United States. Bob was a seasoned and experienced soldier but no amount of training or battlefield experience could possibly have prepared him for what was going to go down on that fateful day. After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Lt. Col. Darling would spend the next 24 hours in the PEOC bunker located directly under the East Wing of the White House. The President’s Emergency Operations Center is a hardened structure designed to withstand a nuclear explosion. On this day the Lt. Colonel would be working directly with Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, White House Counselor Karen Hughes and others. As such he was a witness to history. At long last Lt. Col. Darling has decided to share with us all the events of that historic day underground in his brand new book “24 Hours Inside The President’s Bunker: 9-11-01 The White House”. It is a riveting presentation to be sure.
When it became apparent that the events that were unfolding was actually a terrorist attack on the United States of America an extraordinary thing happened. At approximately 9:45 A.M. the order was given to evacuate the White House and the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Lt. Col. Darling was ordered to proceed to the White House bunker to assist with operations there. There he was greeted by Major Tom Sharpy who directed him to help with answering the phones which were ringing off the hook. Just moments later he fielded a frantic call from the Situation Room that spoke of a startling turn of events: “We have a hijacked plane sixteen miles south of Pittsburgh, inbound to Washington, D.C.” Darling quickly turned and was amazed to find Vice President Dick Cheney standing right next to him. According to Darling’s account of these events Cheney quickly took charge of the situation. Now despite of what you might think of his politics Dick Cheney was a grown-up. Aside from being the sitting Vice President he had also been a member of Congress, White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Defense. Without any hesitation at all Mr. Cheney ordered planes into the air with orders to “stand by to shoot the plane down”. Lt. Col. Darling was extremely impressed and thought to himself “This man is no ordinary politician. This man is a warrior.” As we all know due to the heroism of the passengers on United Flight 93 the final order to shoot down the plane never had to be given. But one has to wonder what lesser men might have done in this situation. Needless to say there were a number of other hair-raising moments that occurred beneath the White House on that day. But since “24 Hours Inside The President’s Bunker” is not an especially long book to begin with I will not steal the authors thunder by listing them here. But trust me you will read things in this book that you have not read anywhere else.
As we approach the 9th anniversary of the horrifying events that took place on September 11th I think it is imperative that the American people never forget just what took place on that day and who was responsible. I believe that “24 Hours Inside The President’s Bunker: 9-11-01 The White House” is an extremely important addition to the literature chronicling this monumental event in American history. Lt. Col. Robert Darling turns out to be a splendid writer who managed to hold me spellbound from cover to cover. This book should be mandatory reading for all high school and college students in this country. Very highly recommended.
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