I was stationed at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) in Washington, D.C., as an USAF enlisted pathology technician. My rank was Master Sergeant. I recall stepping outside earlier that morning and noticing what a clear and delightful fall day seemed to be shaping up.
Once word got out something was going on, Army, Navy, USAF and civilians came into the break room to monitor the TV; initial consensus was that some idiot had flown his plane into the WTC. When the second plane made contact, I looked at the Navy Senior Chief and we both nodded to each other; at that point everyone knew what the deal was.
A couple hours later, we were all in the auditorium, being briefed. The Pentagon had also been hit, and there was word going around that the Department of Labor building had too been hit. The Director asked for volunteers; I was then detailed to the command post where we went to work coordinating the recovery, post-mortem examinations, identification, and forensic evidence gathering for the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA.
Lastly for that day, I noticed that it was relatively easy to drive away from the District, but the DC police checkpoint for vehicles coming in evidently was deliberate in its security procedures; the line coming in was backed up well into Maryland, foreshadowing future airline security procedures. Two weeks later, the detail ended, by then we had relocated to the Dover AFB Port Mortuary.
MSgt, USAF (Ret)