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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. Ronald James Vauk

Age: 37

Hometown: Nampa, Idaho, USA

Occupation: Watch commander, U.S. Navy

Location: Ground, Pentagon

Profile:

Lt. Cmdr. Ronald James Vauk was on the second day of his annual two-week Navy Reserve stint at the Pentagon when the Boeing 757 plunged into the building Tuesday morning.

His family thought the damaged section housed mostly Army personnel. But by 7 that night, when there was still no word of him, relatives began to fear the worst. Then they learned that Vauk, of Mount Airy, Va., was assigned to the Naval Command Center under the section that had been hit. Yesterday, the Navy listed him as missing.

He has a 3-year-old son, and his wife is pregnant with their second child. Vauk, who attended the U.S. Naval Academy and spent five years in the Navy before joining the reserves, works at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in research.

"I'm trying to hope for a miracle, like everyone else," said a sister, Pat Vauk, who arrived home from work yesterday to find the unwelcome sight of funeral flowers sitting on her table. "You try to hold out hope, but as time goes on, it gets harder."

Pat Vauk last saw her brother, whom she described as a "fabulous human being," on Friday, when she came to Baltimore from her Minneapolis home on business.

She said rescuers had been unable to penetrate the area where they believe her brother was working. The family -- he is the youngest of nine siblings -- is spread out across the country, and the others have been unable to come to Washington because of the commercial aviation ban.

"It's just not easy, not easy at all to go through this," she said.

-- Jo Becker

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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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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