Indiana News

How an Indiana limestone business helped rebuild the Pentagon

ELLETTSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — The entire façade of the Pentagon is made from Indiana limestone.

On September 11, 2001, terrorists deliberately crashed a Boeing 757 jet into the side of the building. David Arthur recalled work at Bybee Stone that day.  

“Just like everybody else in the country, that this wasn’t no accident, you know, and, uh, everything just changed. I mean your trust just went down your…. Everybody was scared. I want to say a very patriotic day thinking about your country and what was going on,” Arthur said. 

Arthur’s uncle helped build the Pentagon in the 1940s and he helped rebuild it in 2002.  

“You know, it wasn’t very long because President (George W.) Bush decided he was going to rebuild quickly, that he didn’t want them to feel like they had the upper hand on us. He wanted to rebuild quickly. It just so happens we had a break in our time schedule and that we could get on it right away and we probably would have made a break if we didn’t have a break,” Arthur said. 

Arthur has worked at Bybee stone for 36 years. It was truly a family affair for his uncle and father who worked for the company. Arthur’s son is a draftsman. 

One the day of the September 11 attacks, the diamond blades that cut the stone came to a halt and the dust settled, but not for long.  

“We know what we was doing was good and special, but we knew it was nothing compared to what the firefighters and policeman and everybody that went in there and got them out of there. We wanted to be any part of it that we could,” Arthur said.  

Within a week of the attack, a Bybee salesman was in Washington, D.C. 

“It wasn’t very long before we, you know, we sent one of our guys over there. The pentagon was still smoldering when we sent our salesman over there. He got pictures of it. Because they knew it was Indiana and we know a lot of people in D.C. that we have worked with and we got calls from them,” said George Bybee, vice president of Bybee Stone.

Bybee Stone has rarely seen aerial picture of the Pentagon detailing the damage.   

At the time of the attack, the federal government had the original plans for the building, which called for a special pattern on the face of the stone.  

One-fifth of the exterior of the building was destroyed in the attack. The rebuilding process was going to take time, but Bybee says he knew they could handle the job. They cleared the schedule, and the workers stepped up to a once-in-a-lifetime challenge. They had to produce 4,000 stones as quickly as possible.  

“But we immediately got on it. We loaded our gangsaws up with stone just as soon as we got information out of drafting and that was a top priority until we were finished,” Arthur said. 

The last stone was significant. “But we took it upon ourselves to … one of the final stones we decided to have the employees sign it and so we signed the back of the stone and shipped it out to D.C., and it is my understanding that the guys working outside saw the stone and then they started signing it, so then they decided to make another stone to have the workers both here and out in D.C. sign the front side of the stone,” said mill superintendent Jeff Leisz.  

The company sent a similar stone, signed by all the employees to the Indiana Statehouse, as part of a 9/11 memorial. 

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