In Memory

Cmdr. Patrick S. Dunn, Usn - USS LaSalle LPD-3 / AGF-3 1999 VIEW PROFILE



Ask Patrick Dunn's sister to describe her brother and Mary Matt says he had two loves: Family and Navy.

And for most of his life, the two intertwined.

"Patrick was all about family," Matt said. "He loved the Navy, but I mean the Navy was part of our family. Our father was in the Navy, two of my brothers were in the Navy, another brother was a cop. It was either talking about the Navy or the police in our house at dinner time. That was the conversation. My mother and I were bystanders at the dinner table."

Dunn was killed on 9/11 when a terrorist-hijacked American Airlines plane crashed into Dunn's office inside the Pentagon's Navy Command Center. Dunn, a Fords native who served as a surface warfare officer for the U.S. Navy, was 39.

"I don't need a date on the calendar to remind me about September 11th," said Matt, a Chatham resident. "I think about Patrick every day."

Matt recalled how her brother made the decision to follow in the footsteps of his father, Robert, and older brother, John, opting at the age 14 to carve out a path for the Navy. He chose to attend St. Thomas Aquinas (now Bishop Ahr) because the Edison private school had a Navy ROTC program, and then earned degrees from the U.S. Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, R.I., and the U.S. Naval Academy.

After graduating Annapolis in 1985, Dunn's tours of duty included serving as executive officer on the USS LaSalle in Gaeta, Italy, and assistant damage control officer on the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Norfolk, Va., before being transfered to the Pentagon in December, 2000.

Matt said her brother's next promotion was expected to be his dream job: Captain of a naval ship.

"It feels a lot longer than 10 years," Matt said. "Sept. 11 had a tremendous impact on our entire family because we lost so many people shortly after that. My father passed away five months later, which was very unexpected, and then my mother got extremely ill. So it was emotionally a horrible year for us, starting with Patrick and culminating that following December when we had attended, no exaggeration, 20 funerals of friends and mostly family."

On June 21, 2003, Woodbridge officials honored Dunn by dedicating a street after him. In the Fords section from where he was raised, a sign under Commander Patrick Dunn Court now reads "In memory of Commander Patrick Dunn, U.S. Navy, who perished in the tragic September 11 attack on the Pentagon."

"It was great because it wasn't the town that did it, it was the people who lived on that street," Matt said. "The residents of that street got together and asked the town to do it. That meant a great deal to us because these are people we didn't know who wanted to pay their respect to Patrick. That was a great honor. It cost them a lot of money to do that because all their banking, their mortgage paperwork, anything that required an address had to be changed and that costs money so it was nice of them to do that.

"When I'm up in that area I'll go by our old house and I'll go by the church where we went to school. I'll bring my kids there," she added. "It makes me think about Patrick, which is a good thing."
Submitted by Jacqui Richmond

Click here to see CMDR. PATRICK S.'s last Profile entry.