Aviation workers share 9/11 experiences at Vaughn College

By Bill Parry

A former editor of the Bayside Times hosted a unique panel discussion at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst last week leading into Sunday’s 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Tom Murphy, author of “Reclaiming the Sky; 9/11 and the Untold Story of the Men and Women Who Kept America Flying” in 2006, invited aviation employees who worked during the time of the attacks shared there stories with military veterans with Vaughn students learning from their experiences.

“I hope that this gives them some tools, some ideas for them so that maybe if one day they’re in that position, they’ll go, ‘Wow, I remember their stories,” United Airlines flight attendant Debbie Roland said.

Murphy, who edited the Bayside Times after graduating from college in the early ‘80s before becoming an aviation consultant, wrote his book on the resiliency of aviation workers in New York, Boston and Washington, DC who “rose up” after Sept. 11 after losing friend and colleagues in the hijackings.

Mary McKenna of Breezy Point talked of being “walking zombies” after 9/11 only to lose more friends when Flight 587 crashed weeks later in the Rockaways.

“We learned that if you could talk about the loss, it could make it easier,” she said.

Lt. Dan Carbonaro, who retired from the Port Authority Police Department after 34 years, responded with eight other officers to the World Trade Center. Only four came back.

“We lost 37 officers in those attacks, the most of any police force in U.S. history,” said Carbonaro, a 1965 graduate of Aviation High School in Long Island City and a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. “As we approached Tower Two started coming down, I got buried, but I dug myself out, dusted myself off and got going. And then Tower One came down. I dusted myself off and got going again.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

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