Project 2996: Captain Gerald F. DeConto Remembered – The Pentagon September 11, 2001

Gerald F. DeConto, a U.S. Navy Captain was stationed at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Within the 51 minutes after American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. EDT and an additional 43 minutes before the South Tower was hit at 9:03 a.m. EDT, Capt. DeConto (44), known as ‘Jerry’ or his nickname ‘Fish’ was busy organizing the Navy’s response to those two attacks. At 9:37 a.m. AA Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. See a video below with memories from his family including a letter indicating Jerry was on his way to becoming an Admiral.

Captain Gerald F. DeConto Project 2996 Memorial

Captain Gerald F. DeConto
Project 2996 Memorial

Captain DeConto was divorced and had no children but he was close with his siblings and mother. He was an avid runner, loved sailing, soccer and his dogs.

He received a physics degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1979, entered the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California in 1984, receiving a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1986. He received a master’s degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the Naval War College in 1998.

“It’s a ’91 model, and you wouldn’t expect somebody who could afford something else to be driving it, but he was very attached to it. He just had it painted–a little sporty stripe down the side and put a new stereo in it, and new tires. Once you saw that Explorer you knew just who he was. There was the license plate that said FISH79–a United States Naval Academy plate. ‘Fish’ was his nickname and ’79 was when he graduated. It had a big sticker–United States Naval Academy–on the back also. It just showed how devoted he was to the Navy and how proud he was of the academy. It was like his ship on land. … When you’re a captain of a ship you’re in complete control and have complete responsibility. That’s what seems to have happened with this Explorer. You saw that coming and you knew it was Jerry.” — Patricia L. DeConto, mother Source: Washington Post

Captain Gerald "Jerry" DeConto

Duty Stations:

➤ USS Excel: November 1979-February 1982

➤ USS Fresno: Operations Officer February 1982-January 1984

➤ Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California January 1984-April 1986

➤ USS Hewitt: Chief Engineer December 1986-July 1989

➤ USS Hewitt: Aide to Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Surface Warfare July 1989-August 1991

➤ USS Lake Erie: November 1991-February 1994

➤ Commander Carrier Group SEVEN: Assistant Operations Officer February1994-March 1997

➤ Naval War College, New Port, R.I.: March 1997-March 1998

➤ SS Simpson: Commanding Officer August 1998-April 2000

➤ Standing Naval Force Mediterranean: Chief of Staff April 2000-May 2001

➤ Pentagon: Chief of Naval Operations June 2001-September 11, 2001

Captain DeSanto’s mother said all he really wanted was to lead his own ship again.

“Once they’re captain, they’re never satisfied with another job. That’s what he was waiting for.” ~ Patricia L. DeConto

Captain DeConto's Memorial Bench at the Pentagon

Captain DeConto’s Memorial Bench at the Pentagon

Awards and Decorations:

● The Purple Heart (Posthumously)
● Legion of Merit (Posthumously)
● Meritorious Service Med (3)
● Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2)
● Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (1)
● Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
● Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
● Navy “E” Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
● National Defense Service Medal

Jerry DeConto graduated Sandwich High School in Sandwich, Massachusetts. The school is now home to a Veterans Memorial Stadium honoring Captain Gerald F. DeConto, USN. For more information on funding the DeConto Memorial Stadium which honors all veterans, past, current and future, visit the site here. 

Captain Gerald F. Deconto, USN Veterans Memorial Stadium

Captain Gerald F. Deconto, USN Veterans Memorial Stadium

On Sunday, September 22, 2013, Sandwich, Massachusetts will host the 12th Annual Captain Gerald F. DeConto, USN, Memorial Scholarship 5K Run-Walk. Visit the site for more information.

He is survived by his mother Patricia L. DeConto of Sandwich, Massachusetts; two brothers David J. DeConto of Sandwich, Raymond E. DeConto of East Lynn, Connecticut and two sisters, Marie DeConto-Thomas of Forestdale, Mass. and Dale K. Choate of Mashpee, Mass. Captain DeConto had five nieces and one nephew.

Captain DeConto was laid to rest with full honors in Section 64 of Arlington National Cemetery. A U.S. Navy Honor Chair Class of 1979 has been dedicated in his honor in the area of the Academy’s Alumni Hall.

Visit Project 2996 here.  Bloggers, if you are participating in Project 2996 this year and link here, I’ll link back in the article.

If the video below disappears or will not play, view it here.

The DeConto Family Speaks about Captain Gerald F. DeConto, lost in the Pentagon Attack on 9/11/01 (video)

My Past Project 2996 Memorials:
2013: David Shelby Berry, South Tower WTC
2013: Wayne Terrial Davis, North Tower WTC
2013: Captain Gerald F. DeConto – The Pentagon
2012: David E. Retik, American Airlines Flight 11
2011 – Robin Kaplan, American Airlines Flight 11
2011 – Laurie Ann Neira, American Airlines Flight 11

Linked at GulagBound with a 9/11/01 Tribute to Mark Shulman, New Jersey, Who Lost His Life in the Attacks