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

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Lt. Col. Dean E. Mattson

Age: 57

Hometown: Calif., USA

Occupation: U.S. Army, U.S. Army

Location: Ground, Pentagon

Profile:

To employees and residents of the Belle Haven Towers apartments, Army Lt. Col. Dean Mattson was the guy who always had a smile and a friendly word.

"He was just the very nicest, the very sweetest man," said Rewa Burnham, a marketing consultant at the high-rise complex in Alexandria. "Everyone is just heartbroken."

Mattson, 57, is one of the missing in the attack on the Pentagon.

Burnham said Mattson had lived in Belle Haven since about 1999. He lived alone and did not have family in the Washington area, she said. The Army lists Mattson's home as California.

Burnham said Mattson was well liked and popular with the staff and residents at the complex. Like many residents, he would stop by the office bearing gifts and treats for the staff during the holidays.

"He always thought of us," Burnham said.

She said the management office has been flooded with calls from residents inquiring about Mattson. His family called to tell complex staff that he was missing, she said.

"We have a lot of residents who work at the Pentagon, so we were all kind of just sitting here waiting for the calls to come in. . . . Just kind of taking inventory," Burnham said. "Anyone we didn't hear from, we were worried about. It's a miracle we didn't lose anyone else."

Burnham said Mattson was always in uniform or wearing jogging clothes. She remembers that he was particularly enamored of her dog, Loki, a Jack Russell terrier-shepherd mix.

"Loki is just this little thing. and he's such a tall man," she recalled. "Loki would bark and he'd say, 'Ah, there's the ferocious wolf!' "

One day, Mattson saw Burnham carrying Loki and immediately became concerned.

"He wanted to know if something was wrong with him . . . if he was okay," she said. "He had a good spirit and a big heart. He was just an absolute sweetheart."

-- Victoria Benning

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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