Now Pontell, a Navy lieutenant junior grade, is among the 126 people who are unaccounted for at the Pentagon, where a hijacked American Airlines Boeing 757 crashed Tuesday.
But Louis Pontell, 88, isn't ready to accept that his grandson is dead. "They said in the paper it could be 10 to 12 days just to clean everything up," he said last night. "If he was hurt, I don't care. I'll be very happy if he's only hurt."
But Louis Pontell has been watching television since his son, Gary, called with the grim news. He knows things don't look too good.
But he prefers to talk about his grandson -- especially the way he was two weeks ago when he last saw him.
"The party was strictly for family," Louis Pontell said. "They served cake and ice cream. This was at their home, just after dinner. He was very happy, very happy. After all, they're a young married couple."
Darin Pontell, a 1998 Naval Academy graduate, loves computers and works in intelligence at the Pentagon, his grandfather said.
"He was always busy," Louis Pontell said. "I think he did bowl and participate in other activities, but we never talked about it. He's a youngster, I'm an old man. But he was very active and very, very good with computers."
In 1989, the elder Pontell lost another grandson, Steven Pontell, in an airplane crash on the USS Lexington off Pensacola, Fla.
"It's a shameful thing it happened [Tuesday], but I'm praying and hoping that he's alive."
-- Laurie Willis
Moran, 39, of Upper Marlboro, is a video-teleconferencing engineer at the Pentagon, said Joyce Moran, his wife of 17 years. He also is an assistant coach for the St. Mary's-Ryken junior varsity softball team and had worked as a lighting technician for such Hollywood films as Enemy of the State, Random Hearts and Contact. He had served in the Navy for five years, where he was a combat photographer.
Joyce Moran said she learned about the attack on the Pentagon while she was checking her e-mail at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland.
"My son called," she said. "I just told him to be patient. No news is good news."
The Morans, who moved to Maryland six years ago, have a daughter, 16, and a son, 14.
Besides coaching at St. Mary's-Ryken, a Catholic private school in Leonardtown, Moran also has coached its power-lifting team.
Gary Padgett, head coach of the softball team, said he had called Moran last week to promote him to assistant coach on the varsity squad. "I'm just praying that they find him," he said. "I didn't find out until this morning, and he's all I've been thinking about all day."
Joyce Moran said her husband is a gourmet cook who enjoys camping and fishing.
"My husband was always a survivor in everything he did," she said. "If there's a way, he will survive."
-- Edward Lee
He spent 22 years on active duty and retired from the Navy in December 1984 as a chief radioman, said Betty Woods, his wife of 29 years.
"The only jobs he ever had was with the Navy, active duty or civilian service," she said. "He spent his whole life taking care of his country.
"He loved his country," she added. "He would not want to give into this terrorism. He would want the U.S. to stand together, to stand firm."
Woods also loves to fish and work with wood, his wife said. They have three children and three grandchildren.
His office is in an area of the Pentagon that had just been renovated. His wife said she knew from watching television reports Tuesday that the airliner had crashed into that part of the building. She said that when she didn't hear from her husband, she held out hope that he was OK, "thinking maybe he was working to help everyone else."
But at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Navy officials came to her house and told her her husband was officially missing.
Yesterday, she said, "My husband's car was brought home."
-- Eric Siegel
But school officials could not have known then that one of their graduates, Kris R. Bishundat of Waldorf, was among those missing in the attack on the Pentagon. Bishundat, a Navy information systems technician, expected to celebrate his 24th birthday today.
"He was dedicated and always wanted to have a military career. He was outgoing, very friendly," his father, Bhola P. Bishundat, said from the family's townhouse, where friends and family had gathered.
The elder Bishundat said his son didn't talk much about what he did at the Pentagon.
After the Pentagon was hit, Bishundat family members went to the site to see if they could learn anything about his condition. They hoped he might be trapped in a basement.
-- Jeff Barker
Vauk was at the Pentagon for two weeks as part of his duties for the Naval Reserve. Vauk, who lives with his wife and children in Mount Airy, served six years on active duty in the Navy as a submarine officer. Among many honors, he was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, and he received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal three times.
A fellow APL worker, who knew Vauk only briefly after her recent transfer to his department, called him the kind of person who made her feel welcome. "He is really, really nice," said Margaret Reed. "He is one of the nicest people."
-- Diana Sugg, Tanika White
Cooper, 39, is from Springdale.
He often made business trips to California on the Dulles-to-Los Angeles route and was on American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday.
His wife said their daughter heard about the crash and called her at the school where she teaches.
"I checked his flight itinerary and realized he was on that flight," she said last night.
Mr. Caswell, a graduate of Princeton University, also leaves a daughter and a stepson.
-- Walter F. Roche Jr.
Mrs. Cushing, who grew up on Yolando Road in Ednor Gardens, was en route to San Francisco. It was her first flight on a commercial airplane, said her nephew, Steve I. Hasenei of Columbia.
"She's been talking about this trip for a year," Mr. Hasenei said. "She's never been outside the East Coast."
Mrs. Cushing attended Catholic schools in Towson and received a teaching certificate from what is now Towson University. She met her husband, Thomas Cushing, from Bayonne, N.J., at a Baltimore Colts game at Memorial Stadium. She and her husband, who died in 1988, had three sons, two daughters and two grandchildren.
Mrs. Cushing worked for the telephone company in the 1950s before her marriage, then worked in its Bayonne office. She retired last year to care for her mother, Elsie V. Gross of Baltimore. Her mother died in November.
Mr. Hasenei said the family printed out maps to help Mrs. Cushing get around San Francisco. She had planned to return to her home in Bayonne next week.
Mrs. Taylor, a native of Sierra Leone, taught sixth grade at Leckie Elementary School in Washington, according to her son, Donald Stafford.
-- Associated Press
Mr. Gray, 55, who lived in Columbia with his wife, Ana Raley, intended to visit Seattle before returning home Sunday, his wife told reporters.
McBee Associates, with offices across the country, has 300 health care clients including hospitals and nursing homes.
"[Ian] was constantly traveling to each office," said Anne M. Bowen, a company secretary for about a year. Ms. Bowen remembers Mr. Gray's "great sense of humor."
Mr. Gray, who emigrated from Scotland to the United States in 1968, was scheduled to attend a conference by the Healthcare Association of Southern California. He has been with McBee for about 20 years, Ms. Bowen said.
His wife, the chief executive of Greater Southeast Community Hospital, was at work when she learned of her husband's fate.
"This is horrible," she said. "He was in perfect health. We have been the happiest couple in the world."
-- Michael Scarcella