On Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2001, my wife and I were on a layover in Honolulu when we received a call at 3 a.m. Hawaii Standard Time, from a fellow airline crew member, to turn our TV on. What we saw was totally unexpected and unbelievable. We were at awe and in tears as our eyes were glued to the television.
I was the purser and decided to call my entire crew and have them meet me in my room. In minutes all 13 were present, and we all watched in dismay and in tears. The impact and the devastation took a toll on each of us because as airline crew members, this affected us deeply.
Being a Christian and a deacon, I led my crew in prayer, asking God to protect our country and bless the families who lost their loved ones in this awful, inhumane act. I also prayed over the vulnerability of airline crew members who feared of even thinking of getting back on an airplane.
At 7 that morning, Hawaiian Airlines and Aloha Airlines management organized and arranged to have counselors available to help us deal with fear. Four hundred-fifty pilots and flight attendants of all airlines – American, Continental, Delta, U.S. Air, United, Singapore, Japan, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic and Philippines – gathered at the Ala Moana Hotel. I opened this meeting in prayer, and the floor was opened for discussion.
The speaker was a pilot who flew for Aloha involved in the aircraft she was piloting when a section of the roof blew off in-flight earlier that year. She shared the fear she experienced and was extremely consoling and uplifting, which helped us immensely.
President Bush ordered to ground all the airlines until it was safe to fly again. By Friday of that week, he cleared the airways for all airlines to resume schedule, and we worked our trip back home to Texas that evening. Every passenger on board was quiet, and hardly any conversation took place during the entire trip.
This is my memory of 9/11. In November 2005 my wife and I retired from American Airlines with 35 years each of service.
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