As in years past, I’m participating in Dale Roe’s blogging tribute to the victims of 9/11, called Project 2,996. This year, I’m writing a tribute to Colonel David Scales, the personnel policy integrator in the deputy chief of staff’s office at the Pentagon.
Col. David Scales was 6 months away from retirement, after an impressive 22 year career in the military. He had just learned that he was to be promoted from Lt. Colonel to Colonel, which was awarded to him posthumously. He was described as a “perfectionist,” “brilliant,” and “full of energy.”
His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit and Purple Heart medals as well as multiple awards each of the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. His service awards included the National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, the Parachute Badge and the Expert Pistol Marksman Badge.
He was always at the top of his class, but in a magnanimous gesture, he once gave up his Number 1 spot at Command, Control and Communication School to a Regular Army soldier below him. Since he was close to retirement, and it would have helped the soldier’s career much more, he decided to yield his spot.
He was a faithful Christian, and during the “celebration” of Scales’ life at his church, Rev. Stan Pigue said of him, “”It seemed like when he was around me the air was full of energy and brightness.”
God, family, career – all of these things were very important to Scales. But music was also a real passion of his, and was always a big part of his life. At church, he would play piano after service ended, and people would stay just to hear his music. At home, he would play for the family, and his sister fondly recalls a home movie of him playing for her daughter, who was 4 at the time. At age 12, he composed the song “Blast off Moon,” which was a tribute song to the Apollo moon landing. He sent it to President Nixon and Neil Armstrong, and performed it at the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Over the course of 20 years, he set about composing music to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses. He was inspired by Rodgers and Hammerstein, and had his dream come true when he got to meet Richard Rodgers on stage after a concert.
Bobbi Bliss, who along with Scales and Dan Bridges formed the trio, “Bridges to Bliss,” said, “When you saw David with his hands on the piano, you couldn’t help but feel that you could hear his heart and soul and spirit,”
On the morning of September 11, 2001, Col. David Scales was at his desk at the Pentagon, and had just finished sending an email to his wife, Patricia. She was living in Arizona because their son, Ashton, had severe asthma, and the dry air would help. She had just replied, and there’s a good chance that he was reading her email as Muslim terrorists steered American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing him and 183 others.
In 2006, a young Boy Scout named Joe Ricketts decided he wanted to construct a memorial to the victims of the Pentagon attack, as his Eagle Scout Service Project. He learned that Captain John Scales, father of Colonel David Scales, was a member at the nearby Troop Post 16, so he chose that as the location as tribute.
Ricketts wanted to constuct a walkway in the shape of the Pentagon, with a stone monument in the center that carried the names of the victims. He also wanted a piece of stone from the Pentagon rubble to place on top. 3 years later, his hard work in planning and fundraising paid off, and the monument was completed. It’s a wonderful tribute to Scales and the other victims of the Pentagon attacks, and you can read more about it here.
In memory of Col. David Scales, age 45.