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9/11 Pentagon Hero Passes After Cancer Battle

January 14, 2021 | Michael Barasch

59 passengers and crew members perished, along with another 125 people working at the Department of Defense headquarters, on American Airlines Flight 77 at the Pentagon.

Today, the thousands of first responders and search-and-rescue workers who aided in the rescue and recovery operation are themselves at risk, as a result of their exposure to airborne toxins including jet fuel and pulverized concrete and glass.

Like their counterparts in Lower Manhattan, these heroes now have a dramatically higher risk of developing 68 different types of cancer and numerous respiratory diseases that have been linked to the 9/11 toxic dust.

Recently, we learned of the December passing of 9/11 responder Saul “Seahawk” Tocker, 51, a Supervisory Investigative Specialist with the FBI who went to the Pentagon to search for evidence related to the terrorist attack, after a five-year battle with cancer.

Tocker, who joined the FBI in 1990, was remembered by FBI Director Christopher Wray at a memorial ceremony in Culpeper, Virginia for his extraordinary dedication, working 12-hour shifts at the Pentagon, day after day, in the weeks after 9/11. 

Describing Saul Tocker and his FBI colleagues who responded to the Pentagon, Director Wray said “we take inspiration from their example and the sacrifices they heroically made for all of us.”

Tocker’s illness demonstrates that anyone who was working at the Pentagon between September 11 and November 19, 2001 should enroll in the World Trade Center Health Program and register with the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

Many kinds of cancer and respiratory diseases only develop years or decades after an individual’s exposure to toxins.

By visiting the doctor for regular checkups and screenings and enrolling in the health and compensation programs available to 9/11 first responders and survivors, you have the ability to access life-saving medical treatments in addition to benefits to support you and your family.

A law signed in 2019 created a permanent 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. But to register a claim involving cancer or other illnesses diagnosed more than two years ago, you must register with the fund by July 29, 2021.

Give yourself and your family the peace of mind to know that health care and other resources will be available if you get sick in the future.

Please contact us if you have any questions about the World Trade Center Health Program and the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, visit or call 212-385-8000 today.

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