Photo Information

Then-Lt. Col. Darren Jump, left, counsel for environmental and land use with the Office of Counsel for the Commandant, walks alongside a desk being moved into an office in the E Ring at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, in an undated photo from 2002. Jump was one of the first Marines who returned to offices in the E Ring after that part of the Pentagon was renovated following the attacks on 9/11.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels

Resilience and Perseverance: Marine recounts returning to the Pentagon after 9/11

13 Sep 2021 | Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

Resilience and perseverance - two similar words related to overcoming and continuing on in the face of adversity and hardship.

On Sept. 11, 2001, millions of Americans woke up to a new kind of adversity, a different kind of hardship, when terrorists hijacked planes and used them to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Retired Marine Lt. Col. Darren Jump, then an active duty major stationed on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, was at home watching the attacks happen on his television like most of the rest of the world.

“I remember looking at my daughter and saying nothing will be the same, everything from this point on is going to be different.” Retired Marine Lt. Col. Darren Jump, then an active duty major stationed on Camp Pendleton

A few months after the attacks, Jump received orders from Camp Pendleton to the Pentagon, to work with Peter Murphy, the counsel for the commandant. Murphy’s office in the E Ring of the Pentagon became famous in the aftermath of the attacks. His desk and the Marine Corps flag flying next to it can be seen in multiple photos standing at the edge of the crater in the side of the building. The Marine Corps flag was eventually sent into space, and now resides at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

“After American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon, the office of counsel displaced to the Navy annex, ” explained Jump. “After they worked for a period of time they moved back, and that's when I joined. At that time repairs were well underway, but there was still a constant reminder of the impact that the aircraft and fire had on the building.”

Jump recalls the motivation and drive construction workers had to repair the offices Marine were using before the attack. He remembers constant noise, as well as dust and debris occasionally being in the air or falling from above, regardless of the location inside the Pentagon. Although the repairs were scheduled to be completed in a year the construction was done well before then. The theme of the construction and restoration, named “Project Phoenix,” was to restore the Pentagon to how it was before the attacks.

On the day Marines were set to return to the E Ring, Jump was asked by Murphy to arrive in camouflage utilities, though the Marines typically wore service charlies while at work. Jump assumed he was going to spend the day moving furniture, but that wasn't how the day unfolded.

Upon arriving at work, Jump was asked to go downstairs to help movers bring up some items.

“As I got down the elevator I saw movers moving the desk, so I started to lend a hand,” said Jump. “That's when another man with a radio said, ‘No, no, no sir, you need to walk in front of us.’”

Jump considered it an odd request, but did what was asked. He escorted the desk up in a freight elevator and turned down the hall to the counsel’s office in the E Ring.

“When I turned the corner out of the elevator both sides were lined with press,” said Jump. “There were flashing lights, cameras, and people with microphones watching us walk from this freight elevator to the E Ring.”

Jump realized he had essentially become the first U.S. Marine to return to their old offices in the E Ring. In this moment, he was the face of the Marine Corps.

“This was the story: Marines were returning to the Pentagon,” said Jump. “We walked slowly, deliberately and with a responsibility of service to the country, because we were serving as symbols of the United States.”

Jump is now back at Camp Pendleton serving as the counsel in the Western Area Counsel Office, Office of the Counsel for the Commandant. He says that moment, and that time in his career, taught him a lesson he has carried with him for the rest of his life.

“I call it resilience and perseverance,” said Jump. “We never gave up, and we came back.”