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Uncommon Valor

When two Naval officers entered the inferno of the Pentagon's west flank to search for survivors, they put their own lives on the line

The doctor’s leg-press rescue, Thomas said, was “the bravest thing I’ve ever seen.” Tarantino downplays any heroics: “Once you’ve made eye contact with someone, you can’t just leave them to die.” He says his desperate legpress maneuver was more a product of adrenaline than technique—like a mother who somehow lifts a car off a child. He sprained his knee in the effort—the next day he could hardly walk—and doubts he could have gotten Henson out without Thomas.

With a heavy heart, Thomas continued looking for his friend Bob Dolan, all the while grieving for what he feared Dolan’s wife and children would have to face. “His cell phone kept ringing for a couple of days when we called it, so we had hopes,” Thomas says. Dolan was confirmed among the victims; some remains were recovered. Last January 11, in the presence of Thomas and the Dolan family, he was buried at sea.

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