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Negative #: 2002.3676
Transcript: U.S. Naval Hospital, Naples, Italy, Tarantino, Staff Physician

Location: Pentagon
Source: Gift of Captain David M. Thomas Jr. and Lieutenant Commander David Tarantino

Related Objects

Pentagon rescuer's name tag and medal
Description: These artifacts from Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino include his uniform name tag and Navy/Marine Corps Medal.

Context: September 11 was filled with acts of heroism. Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino, a Navy physician, was in his Pentagon office when the hijacked plane hit. He went to the damaged section of the building and began searching for injured people. Tarantino, along with Navy Capt. David Thomas, rescued civilian employee Jerry Henson, who was trapped in his office in the Navy Command Center by fallen debris. After witnessing Tarantino’s heroic efforts to save Henson, Thomas was worried he might never see Tarantino again. He tore Tarantino’s name tag off so he would remember his name. In recognition of his heroic acts, the Navy awarded Lt. Comdr. Tarantino the Navy/Marine Corps Medal.

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Navy/Marine Corps Medal
Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino received this Medal of Valor for his rescue of people trapped in the Pentagon.
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Pentagon shortly after the impact
Intense fires and smoke caused by jet fuel made Pentagon rescue efforts extremely hazardous.
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Pentagon office damage
An unidentified office at the Pentagon that suffered severe damage from the impact of the airplane.
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Lt. Comdr. David Tarantino, Jerry Henson, and Capt. David Thomas
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Statement from David Tarantino at Smithsonian press conference, May, 2002
“We [Thomas, Henson, and I] think our stories just represent what a lot of people were doing that day. It was obviously a very trying day for us in the Pentagon and for the country, but I think hopefully the exhibit will show, and history will show, that [...]
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"What began as just a small name tag led us to this incredible rescue story..."
William Yeingst
September 11 Collecting Curator. Museum Specialist, Division of Social History

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©2002 National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution