|Taken Sept. 8, 2011|
The first name I heard regarding the disaster at the World Trade Center came across our local news station around noon. It was that of a local man, John Ogonowski, and he was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. John went to school in my city and lived in a neighboring town. I had never heard of him, nor had my mailman, but by the end of the day, everybody in my area knew all about him.
Like so many others, I was going about my daily business on that perfect New England day. I had a dental appointment at 9:15 and heard on my golden oldies radio station that a plane had hit a World Trade Tower, but I didn't think much of it. I didn't go right home, but went to a grocery store at 10:30 and knew something was terribly wrong. I over heard somebody say the schools and the Registry of Motor Vehicles were closing. Of course, I asked what was going on, and couldn't believe what the reply was. Immediately, I ran around picking up all the junk food l never buy. Once home, I sat at the TV all day, and talked to a few people on the phone. I even rearranged my living room furniture. The following two days, I went to the Concord Free Library in Concord, MA to get away from the TV.
Below, I'm sharing a few lines from Wikipedia and from the American Flight 11 site. Several years later, I discovered that one of my good friends, was also a Ogonowski (her middle name) and was related to Capt. John Ogonowski. We never discussed anything about 9/11. A few years later, she and her husband sold their Dracut, MA farm, and moved to Cape Cod. We've seen them once her move.
CAPTAIN JOHN OGONOWSKI
CAPTAIN ON THE FARM
"John Ogonowski wore two uniforms: his navy blue senior captain's uniform for American Airlines and the blue jeans and denim shirt he wore while working on his 150- acre farm in Dracut, Mass., where he lived with his wife and three daughters.
Twelve days a month, Mr. Ogonowski, 50, flew transcontinental flights. On off days, he tended the farm's peach orchard, with acres set aside for corn, pumpkins and hay. After supper he often sat in his favorite chair, reading agricultural journals late into the evening.
Mr. Ogonowski joined the Air Force at the height of the Vietnam War. He flew C-141 transport planes, taking equipment to Asia, and sometimes flying back to the States carrying the bodies of American soldiers. He became a commercial pilot in 1979, and met a pretty flight attendant named Peggy, whom he later married.
The morning of Sept. 11, he left his wife at home, still in bed. It was already dawn as he turned down the road in his dusty green Chevy truck, to start his drive to Boston and to Logan International Airport. As he passed his uncle's nearby house, he tooted his horn. Mr. Ogonowski was the captain of Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 3, 2001.
Mr. Ogonowski was born, raised, and educated in
Mr. Ogonowski flew as a pilot in the Vietnam War, assigned to the Air Force base in Charleston, S.C. He left the military with the rank of captain.
He flew for American Airlines for 23 years, and was a member of the Allied Pilot Association.
Mr. Ogonowski was an active member of the Dracut Grange, the Polish American Veterans Association, the American Legion, the Merrimack Valley Vietnam Veterans, and the
An avid farmer, he worked to secure 150 acres of farmland on
He leaves his wife, Margaret (La Valle), his parents, Alexander and Theresa, and three daughters, Laura, Caroline, and Mary Katherine, all of Dracut; two brothers, Lieutenant Colonel James of Dracut, and Joseph of Newport, Mich.; and two sisters, Dolores Quigley of Pensacola, Fla., and Carol of Dracut. A memorial Mass will be said tomorrow at 11 a.m. in St. Francis Church in
Personal note, my sister and I toured the World Trade Center in the summer of 1985, going to the top on a windy day was scary, and I absolutely hated the height. In May of 2001, my husband and I went to DC for vacation, and drove past the Pentagon several times, plus daily for 12 years when I lived in the area.