A 9/11 Tribute to LTJG Darin H. Pontel, USN

This 2,996 Tribute is dedicated to Darin Howard Pontell

When Darin Pontell was 14, he decided that he would join the Navy. Lt. Darin H. Pontell, USN  Photo Hosted at BuzznetHis older brother Steven was a Navy pilot, and he was killed in a crash on the USS Lexington off Pensacola, Florida in 1989.

"When that happened, Darin mentioned that he'd like to pick up where his brother Steven left off, to complete the circle," his father, Gary Pontell, said.

Darin Pontell, a native of Arlington Heights who moved with his family to Baltimore in 1985, graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1999. Photo Hosted at BuzznetUpon graduation, he reported to the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Command in Dam Neck, VA. He was assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seven as the Collections Officer. He was later deployed to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. He received the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Naval Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and National Defense Service Medal.

Lt. Pontell married Devora Sue Wolk, a lawyer, in March 2001. He began working at the Pentagon in April and celebrated his 26th birthday that August. He and his new bride lived in Gaithersburg, MD.

"He was thoughtful and generous and wanted to make everyone around him happy," said Devora. " He would do whatever it took to make his family and friends smile."

He was completing his second night of training in a new position with the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot at the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. He and six colleagues were piecing together information about the attacks on the World Trade Center when American Airlines Flight 77, a highjacked Boeing 757, crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37 AM. The jet aircraft slammed into the west side of the Pentagon, where the CNO-IP office was located.

Photo Hosted at Buzznet

"When he returned to the Pentagon, we felt he was so safe," his father said. "Who would have thought of the Pentagon as a target?"

"He was a good kid. He liked athletics," his grandfather said, and described him as "a computer wizard. He was smart. He had an awful lot of friends."

"I had known my husband since we were about 11," stated his wife Devora. "All he wanted to do was go to the Naval Academy like his older brother, but it was a challenge for him to get in and make it through the four years and graduate with honors. And this is his Naval Academy ring that he wore every day, that marked his accomplishment; he accomplished something that he had set his mind to when he was so young. He was proud to be a Naval Academy graduate and an officer in the U.S. Navy.”

Before Darin Pontell went to the Naval Academy, he worked with his father, an architect, who was left with one son, Michael, now 38.

"Darin and his brother Mike were my best friends," Gary Pontell said shortly after the attack on the Pentagon. "And being that both of them were such family people, we always spent a lot of time together. That's what I'm going to miss. The Sunday afternoons and Sunday evenings. I'm going to miss the phone calls."

It can only be presumed that Lt. Pontell and his colleagues were killed immediately. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal.

Darin Pontell was buried next to his brother in the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation Cemetery.

He is fondly remembered by former shipmates and many others.

2,996 A tribute to the victims of 9/11  Photo Hosted at Buzznet

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desk sailor said...

This was a touching tribute for a Navy man who should still be with us today. Did you know Lt. Pontell personally? I fluctuate between incredible sorrow and heated rage as I read your narration and the stories of some of the others. Yours, however, was written with care and compassion.

Bill Dash said...

Nice memorial for a fine, young Naval officer who did not have to perish. I wonder how Lt. Pontell's bride Devora Sue is faring today; does anyone know? There were 2,996 lives wasted on 11 September 2001, and that doesn't even take into account all the families who were affected by those (let me put this simply) cowardly terrorist attacks. On top of that we still have to deal with terrorism and the aftermath, not to mention the $ billions lost. Let's hope that by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 saner heads will prevail in our world, along with some sweeping changes in our own American political structure.

janice said...

It is so tragic that Darin and theother 2995 men and women had to die so needlessly. Thank you so much for this through and respetful tribute.

Lafaux said...

I had the privilege to have Darin as a student in my English class. I can remember him coming to me for a recommendation for the U.S. Naval Academy. I had misgivings, but Darin did not! He was stalwart in his beliefs, and I am proud to have known him.

Linda M. Gross
English Teacher

Anonymous said...

For the blog writer. I believe you have Darin's name spelled incorrectly. Pontell, with two l's. thank you.

Tony Z said...

I had the wonderful privilege to be Darin's room mate at NAPS in Rhode Island. He truely was a great person, and a Patriot.

Antonio Zavala

Fred Lyda said...

Darrin was a favorite among CVW-7 aircrew, and he was affectionately given the callsign "Mini-Me." He was super bright, articulate and, most importantly, funny. A talented Intel O and a truly great American.
Rest in peace, Mini-Me.

Anonymous said...

Tragic events indeed. I met Steve in the Navy years ago. We shared a common MA hometown and friendship. Great fellow indeed and I have remembered him all these years.

Tony Z said...

Thinking of Darin, his wife Devora, Steve and all his family on who made the ultimate sacrafice for our country. On Memorial Day, Thank you.

Tony Z said...

We got him Shipmate. We got him.

Bob Jenkins said...

Remembering you today Darin, 10 years later, and many days in between.

He and Devora had a beautiful wedding, and really made life fun on a daily basis. I remember science classes together in 9th grade, New Year's parties at the Pontell home, and his visit to Cape Canaveral after I had moved away.

His smile and laughter were infectious.

Thank you, Darin, for showing me and others how to live life to the fullest!

Anonymous said...

His memorial at the NAVSTANPT is very peacful spot. I did not know the LT but I visit this beautiful spot with my dog Panama as we enjoy our walk. I hope he doesnt mind we enjoy a field cigar resting on the fine bench with his name on it. Panama may see him, I just run my thoughts by a brother in arms.
LtCol Douglas Genereux (Ret)