'Houston's Zika expert' recounts 9/11 memories

Dr. Peter Hotez is known as Houston's Zika expert but 15 years ago he was a professor and researcher at George Washington University where he witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Long before he was known as "Houston's Zika expert," Dr. Peter Hotez was a professor and researcher at George Washington University. Fifteen years ago he witnessed the horror on 9/11 and answered the call to help.

"To me it had a surreal feel to it," said Hotez.

He could see the aftermath from his office window.

"I looked up and I saw the smoke rising from the Pentagon, that's when I knew we were under attack in Washington," said Hotez.

Hotez was chair of GW's Department of Microbiology. He was no longer seeing patients at that point in his career, but as he watched the smoke billow at the Pentagon, he knew he couldn't sit back.

"My first response was to grab the white coat that still had a stethoscope in it and head over to the emergency room," said Hotez.

So many doctors and first responders in Washington D.C. and New York City did the same.

"We wall wanted to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem, everybody wanted to help," said Hotez.

He and his colleagues waited for patients to arrive. Hours went by and only a handful of survivors ever showed up.

"We all had that sinking feeling that everyone in the crash site had perished," said Hotez.

That night he would get home and turn on the television like so many Americans did and see how widespread the terror was. Now fifteen years later to the day, the memory hasn't faded.

"The events of 9/11 if anything else, renewed my commitment to patriotism and what it means to be an American." said Hotez.


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