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Del Mar man reflects on son's death in 9/11 Pentagon attack

Del Mar man, victim's father reflects on 9/11 Pentagon attack
Posted at 12:01 PM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 22:52:07-04

DEL MAR, Calif. (KGTV) — Almost twenty years ago, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon took the lives of 189 people, including Chad Keller.

“I think it's reflection time, but it's celebratory. We celebrate Chad’s life every day,” said his father, Dick Keller.

Chad Keller was just 29-years-old when he died. His flight from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles was hijacked by terrorists and crashed into the Pentagon.

“It sticks in your memory forever, that exact moment,” said Keller.

His father Dick and mom Kathy were in their Del Mar home as the tragic day began unfolding.

They drove up to Manhattan Beach to be with Lisa, Chad's wife of 10 months. Around noon, their fears were confirmed.

“They came in a black car with black suits,” said Keller.

Executives from Boeing arrived and informed them Chad was on that flight. Chad worked at Boeing as an aerospace engineer, a propulsion specialist working on satellite launches.

"Sadness, grief-stricken…to be taken so suddenly, and not being able to have a conversation and say goodbye, that's the worst part of the tragedy,” said Keller.

Keller calls his son a bit of a Renaissance man, who loved to travel, cook and do anything outdoors.

“We've learned life is fragile. You have to go on. Chad would have wanted us to go on with our lives,” said Keller.

The Kellers say they've tried to use their grief to do good, volunteering to help veterans and supporting the 9/11 memorial projects at the Pentagon and in New York. But their grief never goes away.

“We've not forgotten it. We have a hole in our heart and life forever. We grieve differently, so there are period of times when you wake up and just think about what life could have been to have him around,” said Keller.

Two decades later, the recent suicide bombings in Kabul show the war on terror is far from over.

“It's an uphill battle, that is what's sad, disappointing and hurtful, that we can't do better,” said Keller.

The 20th anniversary of the attacks comes amid a push by 9/11 families to declassify evidence that may show a link between Saudi Arabian leaders and the attacks.

Last week, president Biden ordered a review and possible release of classified documents.

“The transparency of this information would be beneficial. It might help us understand what actually went on,” said Keller.

As the search for answers continues, so does the Kellers' mission to honor their son's legacy.

On 9/11, they will be at the Pentagon for a special ceremony for the victim's family members.

“Let's not forget. It’s something we should remember,” said Keller.