On Sunday, September 23, my mother cooked lunch for a large group of relatives. After lunch, the men were watching a football game when a news bulletin came across the television. A plane crashed in the North Atlantic ocean carrying 76 soldiers, dependents and crew. A comment jokingly was said, “Sure hope Gordon wasn’t on that plane,” and went back to watching the ball game.
At 8:00AM the following morning, my mother received the following telegram. My father had already gone to work.
I am sure that everyone on the plane had parents to receive the same telegram. This had to be a time of complete helplessness for our families. On September 24, the following article was published in our local newspaper:
On September 25, 1962, at 2:00PM, my parents received the following telegram:
On September 27, 1962, I sent a telegram to my parents from the Celerina letting them know I survived the crash and was not injured. It was very brief. I simply said:
-NOT HURT WRITE LATER-
The image of the telegram intended for this posting was regrettably misplaced in the world of the internet, but I still have the original at home.
The picture (below) is of me on the left; Douglas Werner of Muncey, Indiana (middle); and, Richard Trawick on the right from Birmingham, Alabama. If we look bewildered, that is because we were bewildered. We received a medal. For what? I don’t remember but it had something to do with the crash:
Some of the survivors and I have become life-long friends. Thomas Koltak, Douglas Werner, and Richard Trawick, have been in touch on a regular basis. Because of this website, Paul Steward and I have reconnected and have had dinner together.
I am going to finish this up by introducing my family. Sue, my wife of 48 ½ years taught school for 3 years before coming to work in our business. We lost our first son, Richard, in a car wreck in July of 1973. Our daughter, Tonia and our son-in-law, Gerald, are proud parents of Josie, our granddaughter. Tommy, our son, is married to Rabab and they have a son, Jackson, our grandson; and, Maggie, our granddaughter. We are expecting our next grandchild in August.
Are not the grandchildren the best?
[Editor’s Note: Gordon was the first survivor to contact me personally and face-to-face at my office in Denver after nearly 45 years. He was a great inspiration to me for getting this project rolling, and, in fact, he got me started with five names and phone numbers of survivors. I was able to contact them all.]