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

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Ernest M. Willcher

Age: 62

Hometown: North Potomac, Md., USA

Occupation: Retired Pentagon civilian employee, consultant , Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc.

Location: Ground, Pentagon

Profile:

Ernest M. Willcher, 62, of North Potomac, retired in April after 25 years as a civilian employee at the Pentagon.

In May, he took a job with consultants Booz, Allen & Hamilton in McLean because they were on the top of his list, said Shirely Willcher, his wife of 23 years. "He was very, very pleased with the choice that he made."

Willcher and two other company employees were caught in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon while briefing Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude, the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel, on an improved system for survivor benefits for military employees.

"It's just so difficult to believe," she said. "The irony is that he didn't have to be there every day anymore. He was there for a meeting."

Willcher, who was born in the District and grew up in Montgomery County, received an undergraduate degree in business from the University of Maryland and a law degree from American University, which he earned at night while working for the Army. He served in the Army for four years and spent 36 years as a civilian employee in various posts.

He was assigned to the U.S. Army Map Service, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Fort Detrick and then to the Army general counsel's office in the Pentagon.

"He was self-motivated and determined," said his wife. He returned to work after retirement, she said, to help ensure that his children -- Benjamin, 20, and Joel, 17 -- "could go as far as they wanted in school."

Their devoted father never missed a baseball game for one son or a theatrical performance for the other, she said. And he never had doubts, she said, about working for the military: "He always said he was working for the right client -- the citizens of the country."

-- Sandra Fleishman

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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