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United Airlines honors 9/11 crew that lost their lives 20 years ago

United Airlines hosted a remembrance event for employees at the Flight Training Center. A memorial garden was unveiled with an F-16 flyover.

DENVER — September 11, 2001, was a day that changed the world and the future of the airline industry. This year United Airlines commemorated the 20th Anniversary by honoring the lives lost at their training center in Denver.

“I see a lot of faces around that I’ve known for many, many years certainly 20 years since the events of 911,” said United Airlines Senior VP of Flight Operations Bryan Quigley.

20 years later and the attacks on 9/11 still lie at the surface.

“A little bit of sadness, a lot of grief as we remember the family members and colleagues that we lost,” Quigley said.

Quigley was a line pilot for United based in Washington, D.C. On September 11th, 2001, he was home on the reserve, waiting to be called in for work. But he never was.

“I remember waking up and seeing how crystal clear the sky was. I received a call from a family member and she said, ‘Hey you better turn on the news it sounds like it’s been an aircraft crash.’ And when I did I turned the news on just as United 175 was flying into the world trade center,” said Quigley.

Nine crew members died after hijackers crashed United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower at 9:03 a.m. ET. An hour later, United Airlines Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, PA; seven crew members died, including the Captain Jason Dahl of Littleton, Co.

“It’s very, it’s heartbreaking actually, it’s sad. The fact that they're gone. They shouldn’t be gone, I’ll never forget them,” United Flight Attendant Laura Klitzke said.

United unveiled a memorial garden with hopes it would transform the memories of the fateful day.

“They are baked into our collective memory and we are here to commemorate them,” Quigley said.

Klitzke stood in the garden looking at the names of the flight attendants she once worked with within Newark, N.J. Those flight attendants were on board flight 93.

“I flew with a lot of the crew members when I was based in Newark many years ago. So many of them had great personalities, wonderful people, I remember them with such heartfelt tears in my eyes when I think about them sometimes. It’s just been a long time ago but still feels like it happened yesterday,” Klitzke said.

For Klitzke and others, it still feels like it was yesterday. But she’s reminded of it every day.

“My phone number ends in 911. So, I remember every single day, every time my phone rings about 9/11. And it’s still such a tragic event and it always will be and the people who went through that will never be forgotten,” Klitzke said.

20 years later, Quigley has found a new purpose being the Senior VP of Flight Ops.  Klitzke and thousands of others are still doing what they love while honoring their United family loss.

“We can’t let things stop us in life even though something like that should never have happened. We honor them by flying and we always will,” Klitzke said.

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