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September 12, 2022 3:15 am
On this episode of Our American Stories, many of us know the story of Flight 93 because of the heroic actions of the people in the airplane. But do we know the stories of those who responded to it on the ground? ATC controlman Dennis Fritz and Christian Boyd, a paramedic and volunteer firefighter share the story of what they saw in and around Shanksville.
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Oh, American stories and observance. September 11, 2001. Many of us know the story of .93 because of the heroic actions of the men and women and that when we know the story of some of the people on the ground witnessed the events unfold and responded to the crash site is on Monty Montgomery with the story.
On September 11, 2001.
Dennis Fritz was working as an ATC controller at Johnstown County Airport in Pennsylvania. I normally don't work your tower is so happy that I'm not 11 I was working in the car and drive control when everything had taken place.
We're kind of busy that day so we have no idea what was happening about 930 I got a call from my center called and asked us with a traffic in the area everything when a pattern suggests we deadly civil directed us to recall traffic that were talking to get them all down, after recovering land is less when it gets down to me a call because there to be diverting more aircraft were to be closing the airspace and it makes sense to me. So we crawl. We called all the aircraft that we were dealing with, which is about how may we have time brought back in the land of McKay call Cleveland back. And I said okay we got our crackdown is is okay were start diverting about 15 aircraft in your in your report what's going on he's wife closing our airspace is your stamp closing just this airspace were close airspace across country so I figured something big was happening much later this about 10 o'clock.
I say type chapter 10 I don't remember the time exactly this prickles 10 o'clock the called and asked if fun.
We had a large aircraft PC thing after all. And we were walking anything that aircraft is a 757 on a day set up our is 12 miles 50 pieces 15 miles looks like he's heading directly toward you should not cancel anything at all.
So we picked up a block or did some looking more work and say they called exit suggest you evacuate the tower that aircraft now 12 miles south of Johnstown hidden their high rate of speed, and I want guys as long to get married, we can see aircraft, you can't see anything. There's nothing out there were not many danger and it was probably a minute after he called me. He said that aircraft is turned back south I lost radio contact with you see anything give me a call back will soon as I got off the phone hemline star ring. We had a report of an aircraft that crashed south of the field about 15 miles got appointment so that we were taking calls and notified I talked to 911 and they were to go ahead and dispatch crash fire rescue people use Christian Boyd, a paramedic and volunteer firefighter working that day at the Somerset ambulance substation. He was one of the first people to report to the crash site of flight 93 started like any other day shift started eight. Usually I worked with a gentleman named Doug Whitfield from Arsdale and he had traded shifts that they with a paramedic named Kevin Husak, whom I've known all my life, so Kevin showed up and I thought that's neat surprise because I don't normally get to work with him and you can't work with the same people over and over.
It seems like at that station unique and can't predict here, and I work with and he showed up, so I thought this is neat but we know will find something interesting to do.
Today he likes to clean the ambulance and and shot it locks up so keep yourself busy is that station is is normally a slower station.
You might run have two runs a day, sometimes non-it's quiet. I remember I took my work uniform shirt off and Kevin took his off because he was the star of the ambulance on the outside. He was the loss or something and I was can replace the bulbs in front broke and we were both volunteer fireman's we had pagers and I start hearing all these local fire departments or tones going on over there on the page. And Kevin said were going so I said, I'm guessing probably a brushfire maybe bonfire because it was a big alarm sonnet.
You could tell he could tell each department down like that's always town that's Boswell that Shanks let's freeze you could tell, then the fire was mostly stone blue which is right on over them from the mill station so I hurried up and got me and think shirt on and we buttoned up a station locked doors and they the dispatcher came across the air and said what was playing down report commercial aircraft in the area of Shanksville off of skyline Drive and I all had to do. I look down toward Shanksville down Route 30 E. and I could see a big column of smoke and Kevin came out. He said he said the DC plan.
I said yes. Look, and he said all man sod. I signed word is getting the I took skyline drive just as they said when went up to the top of the hill and looked down over the hill and he could see fire the trees and debris scattered everywhere and I civil war we got closer suite. We went down on the side road that was it. I pulled as close as I could. Just looking at the picture up as close as I could without going into the crater or put anyone in danger and I had no idea what it was really work look like brushfire and that in the trees stand upon trees and big big hole in minute look like about the size of the nice inground swimming pool. Maybe two or three that is one point I thought this doesn't look good on the beer while and we looked around and we determined that there were no survivors. And I still did not believe that it was a passenger or commercial airline that the only thing that that made me realize, or believe that it wasn't commercial passenger airliner was a tire. The size of the tire, and that the width of the annuity had to come from bigger aircraft just from being on planes before, but other than that the largest piece of plain, not that I noticed was about the size of a refrigerator and it was part of the fuselage and the only way that I knew again that it was a passenger airline was because the window still had a window attacked the small windows that they have. We are awestruck we thought you know what this is something that had that happened on TV. We just salt a few minutes ago and it just happened here. We think and Jill are boss came out and we talked to deal with talk to the police talk pharmacy Wayland Duke.
Our job is to look for any type of information that might lead to what this plane is Christian was sent into the wreckage with his fellow first responder Michael, I did find wallets.
I found driver's license some someone was from say San Diego or San Francisco, California.
They had a Latin name or Spanish name I can't remember but I remember looking at that man thought San Diego's picture. The kids pictures of family money scattered everywhere on fire. One of the things it still stands out in my mind that I can remember was a Bible on the ground that was burning that it was started burning.
I think from the right lower right-hand corner look like. Where was burning was burning, diagonally, I thought that was weird because you're not supposed to really know burned by whatever… Just caught my attention and Mike, who is pretty strong Catholic. I called and must look at this thing. It just kind gave us an eerie feeling item that I like to see that, I think, in spite of the edge of the put out. That was it and you were listening to Dennis Fritz and ATC controller. The nearby airport and Christian Boyd local EMT Shanksville area. Both of their responses to flight 93, and a special thanks to the flight 93 National Memorial for providing us this audio.
It's a beautiful museum in the Pittsburgh area.
Please go and check it out back, make a road trip to stories town and see it for yourself more of our 9/11 special here on our American stores