Tucson Heroes: It’s Time to Exit the Stage

January/14/2011 16:13PM
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In 1989 I was involved in a terrible tragedy. An airplane crash that killed over 100 of my fellow passengers and left another 100 hospitalized. I flew home that night and woke to find media trucks all over my street. I declined to give but one interview. It was with Elizabeth Vargas. The phone rang and Oprah wanted me to be on her show. I declined. Some were trying to put the hero label on me for helping to carry an invalid nun from the wreckage and out of the corn field.

I had an epiphany. A wife and two children of an employee of the company I worked for were lost in the crash. I did not know them, but I thought about the surviving husband a lot. It struck me that I would not want to see the survivors and knighted heroes paraded on the TV while I was trying to get through my personal grief and figure out how to survive without my entire family.

It struck me that I owed it to the families of those who did not survive to never to be seen on TV or in any media by those families. I did not want to parade myself in front of them as a survivor of something that killed their loved ones.

While I give all the heroes of the Tucson shooting their due, I find the one who was the first responder gets the biggest credit from me. The man who hit the shooter with the chair. I have searched and can’t find where he ever came forward to take credit. If that’s true, he is my hero.

It took me a day or two to put together the need to keep my face out of the media in respect for those who lost loved ones. He seemed to do it in minutes.

I have been hounded by the media for over 20 years from my experience. On anniversaries, when there are other plane crashes, and when a fellow survivor dies, like the nun. I have never responded with an interview or anything but a polite, thank you but I don’t do comments or interviews. You heroes of Tucson, you will see the same. My advice, hunker down and be a silent hero. It’s better for those who lost family and friends.

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