For many people Sept. 11, 2001 has faded into memory.
But not for Dan Creed. He doesn’t dwell on 9/11, but he also doesn’t forget his brush with history that day.
The Ahwatukee Foothills man, along with two colleagues, were stopped near the Naval Annex, near the Pentagon that Tuesday morning, when they saw American Airlines Flight 77 roar by and slam into the Pentagon.
“It still bothers us of how the event happened, and the timing of it: that we were sitting there, with our engine off, looking at the Pentagon,” said Creed, president and chief executive officer of FocalPoint Coaching and a board member of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce.
At the time, Creed worked for Oracle and had been at the annex meeting with an admiral, when an aide came in and told them about the two planes flying into the World Trade Center. The meeting was immediately cancelled. Creed and his co-workers started to drive back to the Oracle office when they stopped to discuss what was happening in New York.
“It’s like we were supposed to be sitting there and seeing it,” he said.
Creed noted that the Boeing 757-200 was no more than 30 feet off the ground, with engines screaming as it passed by.
Afterwards he said he tried and tried, but couldn’t make his fingers dial 911 on his cell phone.
“I was shaking so much,” he said.
Despite his eyewitness account of seeing the jet screaming in a treetop level, Creed says that every year conspiracy buffs call to tell him he was wrong, that it couldn’t have been a commercial aircraft.
“I was there; I saw it; I saw everything. I just don’t get it,” he said.
Ten days later, Creed said he managed to get a flight back to Arizona and his wife and family.
“I got out (at Terminal 2) and I kissed the ground,” he said.
The events of that day had a major impact on Creed.
“I try to just keep the whole event in my heart and try to be positive about the experience, about family and brevity of life, and I think I owe it to myself to not forget what happened,” he said. “I don’t dwell on it, but I remember it.”
It also motivated him to leave Oracle, where he traveled extensively, and focus more on family and helping others.
“It gave me more passion in life,” Creed said.
He started business consulting and coaching, sharing what he had learned over a lifetime, which resulted in Creed winning the Brian Tracy Award of Excellence from FocalPoint Coaching International two years in a row, something that had never been done before.
Similar to past anniversaries of the terrorist attack, Creed said he’ll work, stay away from the radio or television, take his wife out to dinner, and maybe a movie, and the two might go up to Flagstaff for the weekend.
“Life is short,” he said.