September 11, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

It started as an ordinary work day for Jeremy Hendon.

The former La Grande resident, a tax attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice, arrived at his job in Washington, D.C., at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.

I was sitting at my desk, and a friend called about what happened in New York City, Hendon said from his home in Washington.

We turned on TV and watched CNN. Then we heard reports that the Pentagon was on fire.

The Pentagon is located in Arlington, Va., across the Potomac River from Washington.

The rumors began to fly. Hendon heard that an explosion and fire hit the National Mall where the Washington Monument stands.

A woman said shed heard there was an explosion on Capitol Hill, Hendon said.

There was no panic in his building, despite the rumors, he said, but everybody was talking, listening to the radio, watching the news. We finally got the word that we could go home, but the subway wasnt running.

Hendon walked from his downtown Washington office to his home in the northwest area near the National Zoo.

Hendons office is not in the main Justice Building but several blocks away.

I wasnt real concerned about our building, he said. It seems the attacks were on a bigger scale. If they attack, theyll hit the main building. It was the sense of everybody in my building that theyd be OK.

Hendon said he saw several signs of the extreme security measures put in place in Washington after the Pentagon attack, including heavily armed police and FBI officials.

Outside a local FBI building, agents stood dressed in bullet-proof vests with their weapons drawn, he said.

The Metro (subway) was closed; all the streets were backed up with traffic, many people in their cars going home, he said.

Later, the Metro reopened under tight security, he said.

Law enforcement and emergency services personnel as far away as Arlington and Alexandria, Va., were put on full alert this morning, Hendon said.

A graduate of La Grande High School, Hendon has been in Washington for about a year. Before he moved to Washington, he worked as a lawyer in Portland. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon Law School.

His mother, Darleen Hendon, said she was initially very worried about her son.

The phone started ringing shortly after 6, said Hendon of La Grande. It was a friend calling to ask if Id seen the news. I was asleep.

When Hendon heard about the Pentagon attack, she tried to get in touch with her son.

He was my first thought not knowing the Pentagons location I didnt know, she said Tuesday. Im still worried; we dont know what those people (the terrorists) can do. I wish he could get out and just come home.

For the most part, Hendon said his life in Washington has been really good.

I cant believe this would happen, he said about the attacks. Everybody here is in shock.