Naval War College remembers students, alumni killed on 9/11

Like many Americans, U.S. Army Lt. Col. William Bestermann remembers 9/11 very well.

"On the radio we heard of the second attack and I got a sense that other orders and missions were going to come in soon," he said.

Bestermann went into the burning rubble of the Pentagon to try and save survivors.

"The fumes coming out of the building were intense. It's the smell of burning jet fuel and something else. A smell I have never smelled before and never since," Bestermann said.

Of the nearly 3,000 killed during the 9/11 attacks, 11 were either students or alumni of the Naval War College in Newport.

Each killed remembered at the college's Patriots memorial on Wednesday.

One of the victims was Capt. Gerald DeConto. Like Bestermann, DeConto was at the Pentagon on Sept. 11.

"Gerry was reported to have survived the initial blast of the Pentagon but died going back in to continue helping shipmates," said Lt. Col. Don Thieme of the U.S. Marine Corps.

For DeConto's family, the pain is still present.

"Every year. It's also a reminder of our need for constant vigilance," said Ray DeConto, Gerald's brother.

Lives lost are still defended by Bestermann and graduates of the Naval War College.

"It's also important that we always remember this day and we honor those who rose from the embers of that day, to help free countries and to find those responsible for the heinous crimes," Bestermann said.