On Sept. 11, 2001, two men arrived at the ticket counter late for American Airlines Flight 77 out of Dulles International Airport. This was before the days of the Transportation Security Administration, when airport security was quite different from what it is today. At the time, the man working at the counter, Vaughn Allex, followed procedure and checked them through.
Those two men were among the five hijackers who crashed that flight into the Pentagon — killing 189 people, including themselves.
“I didn’t know what I had done,” Allex recalls, on a recent visit with StoryCorps, in Potomac Falls, Va. He didn’t find out until the next day what had happened. “I came to work and people wouldn’t look at me in the eye.” Officials handed him the manifest for the flight. “I just stared at it for a second and then I looked up, I go, ‘I did it, didn’t I?’”
Illustration: Matt Huynh for StoryCorps