BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The Maryland National Guard was quickly activated after the 9/11 attacks and military police rushed to the Pentagon to do everything they could to protect that site.
On Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers took control of a flight that left Dulles International Airport and they crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C. -- 184 lives were lost at the Pentagon that day.
"They were just in your offices doing their job. And this plane, then these terrorists, yeah, hit it and they were just gone," said Sergeant Major Patrick Metzger.
Hours after the attack, Sergeant Major Patrick Metzger with the Maryland Army National Guard, was outside the Pentagon assisting with rescue, recovery and security operations.
WJZ's Linh Bui sat down with Sergeant Metzger to recount his experience.
Bui: "Take us back to when you arrived at the Pentagon. Describe what that was like."
Metzger: "Those early days at the Pentagon, you know, it was rough, a little bit because, you know, you'd hear, 'hey, we found you know, another person deceased, or we found pieces of the deceased person.' That's our symbol of our nation's military, you know, a whole side of it was, was destroyed."
Metzger has spent almost 29 years in the Maryland National Guard, which included two deployments to Afghanistan. He was only 17 years old when he joined the Marine Corps after graduating from Calvert Hall in Baltimore County. Metzger is also a Maryland State Trooper, Lieutenant.
"I've given the majority of my adult life to service to my country and to the state," Metzger said.
Lihn Bui asked, "Why have you chosen to sacrifice your time and risk your life to serve the country?"
"There's no greater feeling that to me than to help somebody in need," Metzger answered.
He recently spoke to a new class of military police. He says all good things come to an end and this month he will retire from the Maryland National Guard.
"Everybody says you just know when it's time, you just know when it's time to go, and I just know it was time for me to go. A big decision with my family. I have two young children, six and eight," Metzger said.
Bui: "Reflecting back on your career and almost three decades of serving the country. How are you feeling?"
Metzger: " It's bittersweet. bittersweet. It would be a lot I said to say that I'm not going to miss putting on the uniform. But I need to just close this chapter and move on."
Closing this chapter as the war in Afghanistan ends and we mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Two decades later, the emotional toll remains heavy. Metzger admits he's never gone back to the Pentagon.
"9/11 changed the world. 9/11 changed how we live every day," Metzger said.
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