Paul Foley, retired Army 1st Sgt.
The events of 9/11 united the country just as Pearl Harbor did, only the unity after 9/11 still remains. This was a catastrophe that we actually saw happen. Never before have we been attacked in this country.
It made us see that we were vulnerable, but we responded by sending a message to others that they didn’t want to wake the sleeping dog.
Douglas and Carla Kerr
There were many heroes of that horrible event. One of our favorites is our friend, John Lynch, a master ironworker by trade, employed for many years by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
His actual full-time assignment on Sept. 11, 2001, was president of the union representing the iron workers and such employed by the Port Authority.
Upon learning of the disaster, John called the shop and had a set of tanks and torches of his favorite types sent to the site for him to use. He suited up and joined the ranks of his colleagues desperately trying to penetrate the rubble to find survivors — or bodies — a task he pursued tirelessly for I don’t recall how many days.
We are proud to know John Lynch.
Don Kuehl flew corporate jets for 20 years. Sunday, just two days before that fateful day, Kuehl, who was living in Aledo, was called to fly six passengers from Dallas Love Field to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with first officer Jenny Chapman, for a few days of business.
“Tuesday morning, I was lying in bed drinking coffee when I saw the goings-on on the television,” Kuehl said. “Around noon, my passengers started calling me and asking me what was going on and asking for resolutions to the problem.”
After the planes hit the World Trade Center, air traffic completely stalled. The Federal Aviation Administration diverted all international flights, and domestic flights were instructed to land immediately at their current locations.
Kuehl spent the rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday on the phone with the Flight Service Station, a source for filing flight plans and getting weather updates.
“The Flight Service Station told me that they were frustrated too, but that they could not accept any flight plans,” he said.
In the meantime, Hurricane Gabrielle had developed in the gulf and was making its way to Florida. Ironically, the imminent danger would prove to be a loophole for Kuehl and his passengers.
After speaking once more with the Flight Service, Kuehl was encouraged to list “hurricane repositioning” on his flight plan, requesting permission to move the plan due to the storm. Soon after, he received clearance to fly back to Dallas Thursday afternoon.
“When we got to the airport, there were about 20 other corporate jets trying to get out, but none of them had permission,” Kuehl said. “We flew back to Dallas and never heard another airplane in the air.
“I wasn’t really concerned because I figured being in the air was probably the safest place at that time.
“I had a job to do, and my utmost concern was to do that and get the passengers back safely.”