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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. Cmdr. Otis Vincent Tolbert

Age: 38

Hometown: Lemoore, Calif., USA

Occupation: U.S. Navy, U.S. Navy

Location: Ground, Pentagon

"We used to wear them [Tolbert's high school and college football jerseys] around the house. My daughter would sleep in one. Vince used to mow the lawn in them. We didn't treat them as anything special. They were even something he thought of throwing out. I said, 'No, we need to hang on to those,' and now I'm so glad we did." --Shari Tolbert, wife

Profile:

Vince Tolbert's fellow intelligence officers told him he couldn't join the football pool this year. The former Fresno State running back would just trounce everyone, as he did last season, they said.

"Vince had told me that a couple weeks ago. He was kind of upset," said his wife, Shari. But just before this year's NFL opening kickoff, the ruling was reversed. The Oakland Raiders fan, who wrote intelligence briefings for the chief of naval operations, was allowed to play.

"I find myself over and over saying, 'We talked about that, we talked about that,' " Shari Tolbert said. "That's one piece of mercy I take -- Vince and I were good when this happened, we were good."

Lt. Cmdr. Otis V. Tolbert, 38, arrived at his Pentagon office most mornings by 3:30. In the afternoons, he would return to his Lorton home to attend to Brittany, who is 7 and has cerebral palsy, and his other children, Amanda, 9, and Anthony, 18 months.

After the Pentagon attack, Brittany went to school as planned. "She said, 'They think my daddy's dead. They might find him. We don't know,' " Shari Tolbert recalled. "She said it with a smile on her face."

Brittany always used to ask about Heaven, who would be there, that kind of thing. So her mom told her Daddy will be there. "She said, 'Cool!' " Shari Tolbert said. "She has a way of putting a spin on it that makes grown people wonder how she does it."

Shari Tolbert keeps getting reminders of a time when the family was complete. The Sunday before the attack, her husband watched some football and installed a wireless gadget that made their computers hum on the Internet. "He was pleased with himself. We just got the bill . . . today," she said.

She also remembers how they had to move to a base in Guam less than a month after they were married because Tolbert was being sent to join the Persian Gulf War.

"These guys are heroes every day," she said. "It's not just when a plane hits their building. It's a shame the only time they get that honor is when they are in the ground."

-- Michael Laris

<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/1516.jpg" align="right" border="0">"Everything about my dad made me feel safe. His arms were so big, warm, and strong they would swallow me in a hug, and I loved it. In my nine-year-old eyes he was invincible, larger than life. I never worried about "bad guys" at night because I had my dad. I had the person who showed me unconditional love no matter what I did, someone I could be myself with, Star Wars fan included. He was a man filled with integrity and a love for theOakland Raiders. And my family wouldn't have had it any other way."</p> <div id="memAuthor">-- Amanda Tolbert, daughter <!-- /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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