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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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Joseph John Pycior Jr.

Age: 39

Hometown: Carlstadt, N.J., USA

Occupation: Aviation warfare systems operator first class, U.S. Navy

Location: Ground, Pentagon

"The thing he was known for, especially at the end, was being the biggest Cub Scout there was. In the spring of 2001, Joe and our boys, Joey and Robbie, entered their handmade cars in Pack 970's pinewood derby. Joe won for Pack 970, and then he took second place for the Two Rivers District [in southern Prince George's County]. Robbie and I wore wolf neckerchiefs, but Joe and Joey wore Webelos neckerchiefs. You know, Webelos actually stands for something: We�ll be loyal scouts. It's appropriate." --Terri Pycior, wife

Profile:

Joseph John Pycior went off to the Navy the same month he graduated from high school, but he had been wearing a sailor's uniform since he was little.

Growing up in Carlstadt, N.J., Pycior joined the Naval Brigade before he was 10, learning military rules and regulations with like-minded boys. He officially enlisted in the service when he was only 17 -- his parents signing his application form because of his age.

Since then, he traveled the world, was twice stationed in the Persian Gulf and moved to the Pentagon. That was where the 39-year-old Pycior was on the morning of Sept. 11, in the Navy Command Center, which apparently took the brunt of the terrorist airplane attack.

Pycior, an aviation warfare systems operator first class, was less than four months from retirement.

"He always wanted to do this," said his high school sweetheart and wife, Terri, as 10-year-old Joey (a namesake) and 8-year-old Robbie (officially, Robert) played one room away in the family's Landover town house. "He did his job. . . . He loved it."

As serious as Pycior was on duty, at home he was just "a big kid" with his boys. Their favorite pastime was playing Legos. Joe was a Cub Scout leader for Joey's den. "Scouting brought out his carefree, fun-loving side," Terri Pycior said.

After more than two decades, Pycior was ready for the next challenge of life. In less than a month, he was set to receive his bachelor's degree in history from Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey. He had already talked about going for his master's. He wanted to be a middle school history teacher.

-- Susan Levine

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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