NORMAN — Craig Jones of Norman spent much of last week at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C. — the same place he was in 10 years ago today when an airliner crashed into the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks.
“Yeah, that is rather interesting,” Jones said of the coincidence from his hotel room before returning Thursday.
Jones is president of the Oklahoma Hospital Association. He was in Washington last week, as he was on Sept. 11, 2001, for a meeting of state hospital association administrators from around the country.
“When that plane hit the Pentagon, it was like the entire hotel staff had vanished,” Jones recalled. “That’s when it was obvious that we were not going to meet anymore.”
Stuck in D.C.
About a dozen people from the Norman Chamber of Commerce also were in the nation’s capital that day including Gary Clinton, the chamber’s president-elect at the time.
Clinton said a chamber group goes to Washington every year to lobby for Norman business and the University of Oklahoma. The focus that day was to get more funding for what would become the National Weather Center.
“That afternoon, everything shut down and even the day next,” Clinton said. “Buses don’t run, trains don’t run, and you look up Pennsylvania Avenue and it’s dead — not a person on the street, not a car, not a bus; it was really eerie.”
Clinton said on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, his wife, Pam, was meeting a college friend for breakfast at a hotel near the White House. He was with her when he saw television coverage of the first jet crashing into the World Trade Center.
He said he initially thought a private plane was involved because it looked so small compared to the massive building.
Clinton and other Norman chamber officers at the time including Pat Mayes and Jim Wade, Executive Director Anna-Mary Suggs, and OU Dean John Snow, caught a taxi nonetheless for a meeting with an Oklahoma City congressman.