Piece of Pentagon will honor Norco native killed on 9/11
On the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, taps were played over a memorial dedicated to St. Charles native Lt. Col. Robert J. Hymel at the exact time that the plane had crashed into the Pentagon in 2001, killing Hymel at age 55.
The memorial contains a piece of the actual Pentagon wall that the plane hit and was placed at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
Hymel’s twin sister, Mary Hymel Toce, attended the memorial dedication on Sept. 11, 2010 at UL-Lafayette.
Mary said that she and “Bob” grew up in Norco and attended St. Charles Borromeo before they both headed to the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now UL-Lafayette. The Vietnam War was waging when they graduated so instead of waiting to be drafted, Bob enlisted and became a pilot.
When his B-52 plane crashed during the war, doctors did not think he would make it and he even had his Last Rites read to him.
“He had a lot of injuries,” Mary said. “His wife thinks he was determined to see his daughter (who was born two months prior to the crash) and that kept him going.”
He pulled through and served in the military for 24 years and in operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm before retiring.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal. He then began his civilian career working at the Pentagon in 1994 as a senior management officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency.
When the plane hit the Pentagon in 2001, Hymel was not in his office because it was being renovated. Instead he was in the basement when the plane crashed, ending his life.
Mary said that the family was touched at the funeral when a B-52 flyover was done in honor of Bob.
The memorial that was dedicated to Lt. Col. Hymel and other victims of terrorist attacks will be at UL-Lafayette permanently.
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