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Texas lawmaker shares incredible 9/11 survival story: ‘By God’s Grace ... he spared my life’

State Senator only survivor from Pentagon’s E ring
Brian Birdwell, now a Texas state senator, survived the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon.
Brian Birdwell, now a Texas state senator, survived the 9/11 attacks at the Pentagon.(Brian Birdwell)
Published: Sep. 7, 2021 at 4:49 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - State Senator Brian Birdwell, a lawmaker who represents the Waco-area, is sharing his incredible story of survival 20 years after the 9/11 terror attacks.

The Grandbury-based Republican was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and was working at the Pentagon when it was struck by the terrorists who hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 the morning of September 11, 2001.

“What really comes with being the survivor is the survivor’s charge of telling the story,” said Birdwell.

He and his two co-workers were watching the news about planes hitting the World Trade Center when he got up to use the restroom.

“About 9:35, I told Sandy and Sheryl I was going to step out and go to the men’s bathroom and I’d be back momentarily, and when I said that, those would be the last words I would say to my coworkers,” Birdwell told KWTX.

The plane crashed into the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense as Birdwell was returning from the restroom.

This undated photo provided by the FBI shows damage to the Pentagon caused during the 9/11...
This undated photo provided by the FBI shows damage to the Pentagon caused during the 9/11 attacks. The FBI released a group of photos on March 30, 2017, showing the aftermath of the hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crash into the Pentagon. (FBI via AP)(AP)

“I’m 15-20 yards away from the nose of the aircraft making penetration into the building and impacting at 535 miles per hour with 3,000 gallons of jet fuel, and by God’s Grace, I’m the only survivor in the E ring at the crash site,” said Birdwell.

While he survived, Birdwell’s pain would be so strong in the days to come, he would, at times, pray for death.

“There was never a pain-free day,” said Birdwell. “There was a time, six or seven days after the attack, I’d had a particularly bad tank session, and I’m just grasping at Mel and mouthing to her ‘I cannot continue to do that,’ I mean, I was ready for the Lord to finish what the terrorists had done.”

His charred body would go through four years of surgeries.

“The physical pain is agonizing, but the medical treatment, what has to be done to you medically to survive it, is worse than the injury,” said Birdwell. “I’m proud of my scars. I wish I didn’t have to have gone through it. It’s a reminder of what happened that day, and it’s as reminder of God’s Grace, that he spared my life.”

Birdwell says he’s thankful to be on the other side of it and that the Lord saw fit for a different choice so he could be part of his family’s future.

“The Lord carried me through it. I’m proud of my family. There’s a lot of life left to be lived, and I do my best to encourage fellow veterans in the same way,” said Birdwell.

He says not only he, but America, will never be the same.

“September eleventh was a significant event that changed what threatened the United States,” said Birdwell.

“Things that we would use in peace time, whether its aircraft or something else, are going to be used for the sake of inflicting American casualties and damage the psyche of the American people.”

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