As another year has come and gone since the passing of my great aunt, Gladys Pattan Byer Cooper, I am shocked to realize that it has been 25 years…or at least I was when I was reminded of that fact by a survivor of the crash of United Airlines flight 232, Jerry Schemmel, when he contacted me about a project he was working on. It seemed impossible that so much time had passed. To this day, I can picture that crash, every time the thought of Aunt Gladys comes up, or another plane crash, or most especially that crash comes up. My Aunt Gladys was such a wonderful person, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her.
When Jerry Schemmel contacted me about writing a tribute to Aunt Gladys, I was so pleased that he had taken it upon himself to set up a tribute site to the victims of Flight 232, on the 25th anniversary of that horrible day. In reality, maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. It seems that Jerry Schemmel was not just one of the survivors of that crash, but a hero too. After surviving the initial crash, he went back into the wreckage and rescued an 11 month old baby. How many people can think that clearly after the plane they were flying in just crashed, or cartwheeled really, on the runway, killing 112 people? Not many I would have to say. Most people would be concerned for themselves and their own, but there are heroes among us, and Jerry Schemmel was one.
I am almost embarrassed to say that until I looked Jerry up on the internet, hoping for a picture for my story, I had no idea who I was in contact with. Maybe some of you know…or maybe, like me you are in the dark. Jerry Schemmel is an American sportscaster, and the current voice of the Colorado Rockies. I wonder just how many times I have heard his voice, since I am a Colorado Rockies fan. Probably a lot. While his education was in law, his biggest claim to fame is as a sportscaster. But to me, his greatest single act was when he saved that 11 month old baby.
I wish things could have been different for my Aunt Gladys, but it is comforting to know that after that horrific crash, there were heroes among the passengers who did their very best to save as many people as possible. While Jerry’s site “Welcome To The Tribute To The Victims Of The Crash Of United Airlines Flight 232” is a tribute to the victims of that crash, we should also remember the heroes, like Jerry who survived, went back to help, and never forgot those who lost their lives. I believe that crash changed Jerry forever, and I would strongly recommend the book he wrote about the experience called, “Chosen To Live”. I believe Jerry certainly was.