By Bill Derby, Publisher
American Legion Kings Mountain Post 24 with the city of Johnson City honored a number of local first responders while remembering the sacrifices of the heroes of 9-11 during ceremonies last Saturday morning at the Johnson City Memorial Park Community Center.
The Kings Mountain Post presented plaques to Local first responder honorees: Terry Steward as the 2021 Washington County 911 District Dispatcher of the year: Officer Blake Cutshall as the 2021 Johnson City Police Officer of the Year; Sergeant John Thomas as the 2021 Washington County and Johnson City EMS Emergency Medical Technician of the Year and Johnson City Firefighter Lieutenant Shane Malone as the 2021 Firefighter of the Year.
Carol Fair, one of the four most-senior pursers and flight attendants still serving in the aviation industry today, shared her experiences during that fateful day 20 years ago. She vividly recounts her experience.
“It was a beautiful sunny day just like this morning leaving London headed to Charlotte. I was working as a cabin service director/purser for British Airways.
“It was a day just like any other day, but in an instant, everything changed. The day was September 11, 2001. We had served lunch when the cockpit called me up front and told me a plane had just hit the World Trade Center,” Fair recalls.
“I said, “How in the heck did that happen? It’s a beautiful day out there — the weather is good in New York. But while I was standing there, the second plane hit, so we knew the jig was up then.
“I located a ‘deadheading’ crew member — a pilot headed to his next assignment. I asked him to go to the cockpit door with me to stand guard.
“He took seatbelt extensions and wrapped them around his fists to use as weapons. At that point, we didn’t know who we had on board.
“A few hours later our plane arrived at Halifax, Nova Scotia. We were one of the last to land towards the end of 42 jumbo jets, parked tail to nose, and nose to tail. We were stuck on the plane for 12 hours. The Canada Air service people brought us sandwiches, drinks and serviced our plane. They were great. After spending four agonizing days in Halifax we all re-boarded and finally made it back to Charlotte.”
Carol is the most senior original Piedmont Airlines flight attendant still flying, her career spans over 58 years with Piedmont, US Air, US Airways, British Airways and American. In 2008, she was inducted into the North Carolina Transportation Hall of Fame, alongside such notables as Orville and Wilbur Wright. In 2010, she was enshrined in Tennessee’s Aviation Hall of Fame.
The solemn event ended with Jim Culp playing taps in honor of all the fallen victims on 9-11.