11 Sep Special Edition 9/11 Interview: Brian Birdwell
2,996 people were killed and more than 6,000 others injured on September 11, 2001. Though 17 years later, a day that still brings men, women, and children to their knees from the pain and loss brought upon them by the attacks of that day. In this episode, 9/11 Pentagon survivor, Brian Birdwell shares his story and discusses suffering and forgiveness with Michael Easley.
When you’re 15 to 20 yards from an 80 ton jet coming through the building at 530 miles an hour with over 3000 gallons of jet fuel, you live to tell about it– not because the United States army made me the toughest guy in that building–but because the toughest man that ever walked this earth 2000 years ago, who sits at the right hand of the Father, had something else in mind. – Brian Birdwell
SENATOR BRIAN BIRDWELL
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell is a native Texan, decorated military veteran and lifelong conservative Republican proudly representing Texas Senate District 22. Brian was first elected to the Texas State Senate in a June 2010 special election, and has since been re-elected by his constituents three times. Born in Fort Worth, Brian is a graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he earned a Master of Public Administration degree.
As the Distinguished Military Graduate of the Lamar Army ROTC program in1984, Brian was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and served in numerous training deployments and two operational deployments. In 1990, he deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for Exceptional Meritorious Achievement. In 1998, he deployed to Central America as the Joint Operations Officer for Joint Task Force Aguila to execute humanitarian relief operations in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. In 2001, Brian was serving on the Department of the Army staff at the Pentagon as the military aide to the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management.
On September 11, 2001, when American Airlines Flight 77 was crashed just yards away from his second floor Pentagon office, Brian was critically wounded and severely burned. Of the burns that covered more than 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third degree in severity. Today, following 39 operations, months of hospitalization and numerous skin grafts, Brian has made a miraculous recovery. Despite physical limitations, he testifies not only to his physical healing, but the ultimate miracle of grace through Christ. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received that day. Upon retirement in July 2004, he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
From 2004 to 2017, Brian and his wife, Mel, operated Face the Fire Ministries, a non-profit organization they jointly founded to support critical-burn survivors and wounded service-members and their families. In 2004, the Birdwells jointly authored Refined by Fire: A Family’s Triumph of Love and Faith, which chronicles their life-changing ordeal. Through the years, Brian has been profiled in numerous national and regional media outlets.
The Birdwells have been married for more than 30 years and reside in Granbury. They have one son, Matt, a 2013 graduate of Texas Tech University, and a fabulous daughter in-law, Ann Marie, who reside in Tarrant County with the Birdwell’s first grandchild, Elijah.