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

Photo of

Robert J. Hymel

Age: 55

Hometown: Woodbridge, Va., USA

Occupation: Civilian management analyst, Pentagon

Location: Ground, Pentagon

Profile:

"We bought it in San Antonio twentysome-odd years ago. He got it and refinished it five times. I remember asking him, 'What is going on?' He said, 'I don't like it, it's not coming out right.' He used to play it with our granddaughter. Even now, once in a while, she'll go to it and try pumping it by herself. For me, it's going to be something that I'll always keep." --Beatriz 'Pat' Hymel, wife

Profile:

Beatriz "Pat" Hymel met her husband, Robert, in Del Rio, Tex., when he was going through pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base. It wasn't love at first sight -- Hymel was interested in taller men, and Robert stood 5 feet 6 inches.

He was undeterred, however. "Unrelenting," Pat Hymel, principal of Arlington's Hoffman-Boston Elementary School, said with a laugh. The Hymels married 30 years ago and have a daughter, Natalie, and a 3-year-old granddaughter, Lauren.

Robert Hymel, 55, a Louisiana native, was working at the Pentagon as a civilian management analyst. He had retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. He served in Vietnam during the war there and was awarded the Purple Heart.

The Hymels' Woodbridge neighborhood has embraced the family since his name was added to the list of Defense Department employees missing at the Pentagon. Neighborhood children bring over cookies. Neighbors have put out flags. Friends in Arlington also have rallied around the family.

Pat Hymel said she's grateful for the 30 years with Robert. Early in their marriage, he was shot down over Hanoi in his B-52. Grievously injured, he was given last rites, but he survived.

"Other people in that plane died," Hymel said. "We had him for 29 more years. I can't be angry."

-- Christina A. Samuels

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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