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Remembering Sept. 11

Barrington M. Salmon | 9/7/2011, 12:30 p.m.

Colleagues, Friends Say Pain Still Lingers

This weekend, the nation will pause to remember the 3,000 people killed when Al Qaeda hijackers commandeered commercial airliners and crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.

As the 10th anniversary of the attacks quickly approaches, memories are dredged up that Bill Dulli would rather forget. Dulli, a 29-year employee of the National Geographic Society, said he lost two friends and colleagues that day. Ann Judge, 49, of Great Falls, Va., and James Joseph 'Joe' Ferguson, 39 and a Capitol Hill resident, died when American Airlines Flight 77 barreled into the Pentagon.

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"I don't really want these memories. Ten years later, all this comes back," said Dulli, during an interview Tuesday, Sept. 6. "I knew them as friends. I worked with Joe for about 10 years. I miss them every day. They were very special people. We were all shocked, completely shocked by the loss."

"We just celebrated 25 years of geographical alliances and people came up to me and said they still miss them."

Ferguson, director of Geography Education Outreach and Judge, the organization's Travel Office Manager, accompanied three District of Columbia Public Schools teachers and three students on a National Geographic-sponsored field trip to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara, Calif.

The group consisted of sixth-grade teacher Hilda E. Taylor and Bernard Brown II from Leckie Elementary; fifth-grade teacher James Debeneure and Rodney Dickens of Ketcham Elementary; and Asia Cottom and sixth-grade teacher Sarah Clark of Backus Middle School.

"Joe was terrific," Dulli recalled. "How do you describe a person with common sense? He took no bull from anyone and told you like it was. He lived on Capitol Hill and was a red-headed twin from Mississippi. He read at schools all the time. This project that we do, the guiding principle is to respect educators. He took it to a new level. In the 1990s, we'd bring 50 to 100 teachers to D.C. and put them up in Milton Hall at Georgetown University."

"Joe would actually go and stay at the dorm."

Dulli described Judge as a short, petite, feisty Italian.

"I remember that she was on a trip with me to Egypt. There were about 15 students and teachers. We were on a bus at 11 p.m., at night and we were stuck in Suez. The Navy was waiting for us to go through the canal and take us to Greece," he said. "There was confusion because we had flown in and wanted to take a boat out."

"She grabbed several cartons of cigarettes, said she'd be right back and took care of it. Photographers would call from around the world; she would just fix it for them."

Cristina Ghillani, 59, said Judge hired her away from her former employer.

"We worked together. National Geographic would take kids off on great geography adventures," she said. "She tried to scare me off of the job by saying she worked 20 hour days with no lunches. We worked long hours but that is typical of the travel business. She lived in Great Falls and came in (between) 6 a.m., (and) 7 a.m. If she couldn't leave by 4 p.m., she would work late."

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