My fiancee Molly McKenzie and I both worked at the Pentagon. Molly had been a civilian budget analyst for the Department of the Army for six years when I came to the Pentagon to work in logistics in the spring of 1995.
We were both married to other people when we met, and then both went through divorces during our friendship. After our divorces, our friendship blossomed into a romance. In August, 2001, we took our first vacation together and spent a week in Virginia Beach with my youngest son and two of his friends. It was then that I knew that she and I would be together forever.
On Friday, Sept. 7, 2001, we decided to do a bit of early Christmas shopping after work for Molly’s two daughters and my two sons. When we got home, I proposed. She answered, "Of course."
That Tuesday morning, we commuted together to the Pentagon. We were both in work by 4:30 a.m.—considered the "norm" to begin the close out of the fiscal year. I remember thinking that Molly looked stunning that morning. She was wearing a long black dress with a red scarf tied around her waist. Molly was a beautiful and stunning woman and always took great pride in her appearance. We parted for our individual offices.
My office only received smoke and water damage from the attack, but Molly’s office was in the direct path of the hijacked plane. I worked with the immediate rescue personnel from the time of the attack until 7 a.m. Wednesday morning, constantly paging Molly and trying to locate her. During the early hours of the recovery, it was impossible to determine from outside the building the exact location of the numbered offices. I worked beside another soldier who feared for his fiancee also. We put it in our heads that their respective offices were to the left of the collapsed section, and that maybe, maybe, they had escaped. But on Wednesday morning, when we had the chance to review blueprints, we realized we were wrong. They weren’t to the left, they weren’t to the right. They had been dead center.
I knew Molly was gone from me.
The hardest thing was to go home…without her, to see her new car parked in the driveway, or her hairbrush on the counter. Molly was identified by the staff at the Dover Air Force Base on Oct. 12, 2001, after a month and a day of waiting.
As a 'fiancée,' I have no rights as far as anything is concerned with Molly. If it were not for the people I know here at the Pentagon, I wouldn’t know half of the goings on around here. It's disheartening to be a fiancée one minute and then to be considered a no one or nobody to the person you loved the next minute.
Two weeks after the military identified Molly, we laid her to rest near her father in Ephrata, Pa. It was fitting for her to be there. She had grown up in Ephrata and attended high school there until her family moved to Ohio during her junior year. She stayed in constant touch with her childhood best friend from Ephrata.
Molly was the devoted mother of two sweet girls, Lea, 14 and Alana, 11. She was a talented singer and musician who played the clarinet and the piano. She always had a smile, and was a true and loyal friend. She was a devout Christian who read her bible every day before going to sleep. More than 215 people—family, friends, co-workers—attended her memorial service.
Molly will always be a part of my life and I miss her dearly. The hardest part of this past year has been coming to work without her. I miss the early morning conversations over coffee on the drive into DC. There have been ups and downs throughout the year—especially the lack of information I am entitled to because I was ‘only’ the fiancee. It has been a long road and I'm still walking it.
With the approach of the anniversary ceremonies, I feel like I’m reliving this hell all over again. I am blessed again though, to have met a special woman who is guiding me through this and is there for me when I need that shoulder of support.