Lt. Cmdr. Ronald James Vauk
Hometown: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Occupation: Watch commander, U.S. Navy
Location: Ground, Pentagon
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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