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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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Robert R. Ploger III

Age: 59

Hometown: Annandale, Va., USA

Occupation: Software architect, Lockheed Martin Corp.

Location: Passenger, American Flight 77, Pentagon

"In the early '70s, before the advent of the remote control, Dad used his inventiveness and engineering skills to build a little wooden box with a switch that he dubbed the 'commercial killer.' Wired to the television, which he also built, the commercial killer was ahead of its time. With the flick of a switch, one could mute the sound of those annoying ads between your favorite TV shows. This object was cherished and used for many years by our family and even our neighbors." --Wendy Chamberlain, daughter


This was to be the honeymoon they waited almost four months to take: Hawaii. First-class seats all the way. Two weeks of nothing but relaxation.

Zandra Cooper Ploger was so excited to leave on vacation with her new husband, Robert Riis Ploger III, that she had packed her bags a full week before. "I'm not going to worry about work," Ploger told her daughter, Zena Tedesco. "The both of us deserve this trip."

Replied Tedesco: "Say a prayer on the plane."

And before the trip, Tedesco made a special plea: She prayed that her mother reach Hawaii safely. "I was crying for my mom, saying my prayers before I went to sleep," she said. "I knew something was going to happen."

The Annandale couple wed May 12, a second marriage for both of them. He was 59 and she was 48, and they had four grown children between them. But they acted like teenagers in puppy love. They held hands all the time. His nickname for her was "Pretty"; hers for him, "Love." They played tennis together and were unabashed Trekkies.

She was a consummate party organizer and hostess, already planning a huge bash for Bob's 60th birthday Dec. 19. She also loved reading mystery novels and collecting porcelain figurines. He was a Mr. Fix-It and skilled woodworker who also enjoyed barbecuing. They loved the company of their families and friends.

They married on the pontoon boat of their neighbor Kate Giroux in the middle of Lake of the Woods in Virginia. It was a "textbook perfect" event, Giroux recalled, with a flower-bedecked boat and dock, champagne and a celebratory lap around the lake.

Because of the couple's busy work lives -- she was a manager at IBM for more than 20 years, and he worked at Lockheed Martin on research and development projects for two decades -- they could not get away for an extended trip until September.

American Airlines Flight 77 from Washington to Los Angeles was the first leg of their honeymoon.

Lockheed Martin Chairman and Chief Executive Vance Coffman called Bob Ploger an "outstanding technologist and lead systems architect for some of our most important programs, and he will be dearly missed."

His daughter and regular Saturday doubles partner, Wendy Chamberlain, recalled their last set together only a week ago. As it ended, her father laughed with a friend about the old saying "Only the good die young."

"They would joke and say that, then, they would live forever," she said.

-- Sylvia Moreno

<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="" align="right" border="0">"My father had a silly and clever way with words primarily thought up to entertain us kids and himself. Any kind of flower was called a posie, motorcycles were motorpickles, nice clothes were fancy duds and chipmunks were referred to as hoovers. When I was little and learning how to identify animals, I called any animal with fur a kitty. My dad, picking up on a young child's cognitive ability and just to be cute, continued calling all furry animals 'kitties' for many, many years. These 'dad-isms' are still used in our family's vocabulary, even today. A cow is still a kitty."</p> <div id="memAuthor">--Wendy Ploger, daughter <!-- /end memAuthor --></div> <!-- /end blurb --></div> <br> </div> </div>

Source: The Washington Post, AP and

The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.

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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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