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September 11 Memorial: Remembering the victims who died at the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania

Photo of

Lt. J.G. Darin Howard Pontell

Age: 26

Hometown: Columbia, Md., USA

Occupation: N/A

Location: Ground, Pentagon

"I had known my husband since we were about 11. All he wanted to do was go to the Naval Academy like his older brother, but it was a challenge for him to get in and make it through the four years and graduate with honors. And this is his Naval Academy ring that he wore every day, that marked his accomplishment; he accomplished something that he had set his mind to when he was so young. He was proud to be a Naval Academy graduate and an officer in the U.S. Navy." --Devora Wolk Pontell, wife

Profile:

Retired mail carrier Louis Pontell, 88, hovers between hope and grief as he waits for news of his bright, handsome grandson, Lt. j.g. Darin H. Pontell, 26, who worked in naval intelligence at the Pentagon.

"A computer wizard," is how his grandfather describes him.

Pontell, a 1998 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, grew up in Columbia. He and his wife, Devora, 25, have been married for six months.

"A military wedding with the swords and all," his grandfather recalled with a laugh yesterday. "He was smart. He had an awful lot of friends."

Pontell had been working at the Pentagon since April, after spending two years in Virginia Beach. Devora Pontell recently was a law clerk for Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge D. Warren Donohue.

The couple's home is in Gaithersburg, and a few weeks ago, the family gathered at their place to celebrate Pontell's birthday. Now, he is listed as missing.

"His family hopes maybe he is one of the lucky ones," his grandfather said. Maybe, as the jet plowed into the Pentagon on Tuesday morning, he was away from his desk. "Maybe he went downstairs for a coffee break. If they look in the right place, maybe he is sick or hurt."

The waiting is especially terrible for this family of three sons. Pontell's older brother Steven died in October 1989, when his Navy jet crashed into the deck of an aircraft carrier, his grandfather said.

At the couple's Gaithersburg home yesterday, Devora Pontell's eyes filled with tears. "We love him, and we hope he's going to come back to us," she said.

And in Columbia, his grandfather jumped every time the phone rang. He keeps the number of the Navy hot line for families in his breast pocket. "It's the only thing I carry."

He keeps calling. They say, "Sorry Mr. Pontell, no news yet."

-- Mary Otto and Phuong Ly

<style> #PentmemMemoryWrap { margin-left: 95px; width: 506px; background: #faf7ec; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px; color: #2e2e2e; } #PentmemMemoryTop { padding: 14px; } #PentmemMemoryTop img { padding: 0px 0px 0px 10px; } #PentmemMemoryTop .headline { font-size: 12px; font-weight: bold; } #memAuthor { float: right; margin: 2px 20px 20px 0px; font-weight: bold; } .blurb { font-size: 11px; line-height: 16px; margin-left: -92px} </style> <div id="PentmemMemoryWrap"> <div id="PentmemMemoryTop"> <div class="blurb"><p><!-- <img src="http://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/interactives/pentagonmemorial/images/1487.jpg" align="right" border="0"> -->"He had a smile that lit up the room, but what was most telling about Darin was how important he made you feel. When he asked how you were, he was sincere, and when he asked what he could do for you, he truly wanted to help. He knew a "secret" about life that most of us don't or we just ignore: Life is short, and every moment is precious. That is how he lived, appreciating each moment, happy, living life to the fullest. His motto was, "Live as though you will die tomorrow, but learn as though you will live forever."</p> <div id="memAuthor">-- Devora Pontell, wife <!-- /end memAuthor --></div> <!-- /end blurb --></div> <br> </div> </div>

Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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Timeline

A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.

Related Coverage:

3-Dimensional Virtual Memorial

Victims Remembered in Maryland

One Family's Loss

Stepping Through the Ashes

Pentagon Under Attack

Five Year Anniversary Coverage


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