David Coakley’s 9/11 Memory

It was a beautiful September morning. My mom had just called my wife and asked if we were watching the news. Our relaxed state of mind vanished quickly as we began watching the events unfold.

Like millions of others we watched in disbelief and horror as the towers fell and the Pentagon was hit.

Then the events from that day began to hit home.

My aunt JoAnne had called my mom expressing concern that her son, my cousin, Kenny hadn’t called when he reached California. Kenny was a flight attendant for American Airlines (AA) and was supposed to have reached Los Angeles the day before with his wife and fellow flight attendant, Jennifer, working on the same flight. They were flying together so they could launch their 3-week vacation together when they reached LA.

My mom wasn’t able to muster up the courage to call American Airlines to ask about Kenny and Jennifer so she asked me to help. Always the optimist, I wasn’t overly concerned and was eager to relieve my aunt and the entire family so I got busy calling.

By mid-afternoon I was able to get through to the right people at AA who were fielding calls from concerned family and friends. I carefully stated and spelled the names of Kenny and Jennifer and the woman told me that their names were NOT on the Flight #77 list, which was the flight flown into the Pentagon. Elated I immediately called my mom. Unfortunately the lines were clogged and I wasn’t able to get through for quite a long time. In fact, I had enough time to go out and grab a 6-pack of beer so I could celebrate. I will never forget the emotional high when I heard they were not on that list.

Finally able to get through to my mom I gave her the good news. Surprisingly, she calmly asked me if I had told the person I spoke with at AA whether I had mentioned that they were part of the flight crew or not. I had not. When I called them back late in the afternoon they gave me the news that none of us wanted to believe. They were indeed on Flight #77 on 9-11 working to make sure passengers were safe and comfortable.

Kenny was an only child and one of our closest cousins. He and Jennifer were two of the happiest people I’ve even known. The pain isn’t as sharp as it had been for years, but it still hurts whenever I think of them. Unfortunately, there is no avoiding the hurt each year when we all reflect on the terror inflicted on our people that day.

David Coakley
Kenny and Jennifer Lewis