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THE PENTAGON Staff sergeant has grim duties



Published: Sat, September 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Boardman native is among those who met President Bush when he visited the Pentagon crash site.

By PAUL WHEATLEY

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- A U.S. Army staff sergeant from Boardman who usually spends his time protecting government officials on overseas trips now has the grim task of removing rubble and identifying body parts at the Pentagon.

Jason Corbett's duties in the 3rd U.S. Infantry honor guard used to call for him to attend funerals at Arlington National Cemetery and accompany Congress members on overseas junkets once a month.

The 1990 Boardman High School graduate was assigned two new missions after the Pentagon was struck by a Boeing 757 around 9:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Corbett and the 3rd Regimen must guard the Pentagon's vulnerable corridors and hallways and sort through wreckage inside the blasted interior of the building's west side.

Work at site: Working on three hours of sleep Friday, Corbett, 28, said he helped identify body parts for the FBI and then pulled out wreckage, which is meticulously sifted through to separate sections of the plane from pieces of rubble.

The National Transportation Safety Board will use the plane debris to reconstruct the vehicle-turned-weapon.

"It really didn't hit me until I came home to my wife," said Corbett, who was married in June 2000. "It's heartbreaking at one point and makes you very angry at another."

He admitted he fears coming upon a colleague while working through the rubble.

He said he was shaken Friday when he came upon a charred Pentagon ID badge with its picture still intact.

"It's pretty much the worst environment you can imagine," said Corbett.

Without much sleep, Corbett's body is forced to run on adrenaline and sugar.

He said volunteers keep work crews well-fed thanks to American Red Cross donations.

All things considered, Corbett said he is lucky to be alive: He was supposed to be in the Pentagon the day of the crash.

Corbett was busy getting his wife, Tatiana, ready to visit family in Russia when the Pentagon was struck.

His mother, Patricia, who lives in Boardman and teaches at Springfield Local High School, said she was frantic when a fellow teacher told her about the crash.

"It scared the daylights out of me," she said. Corbett called Patricia from his cell phone to tell her he was OK.




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