nav
Click Here

ME!!!

VICKI COSTANZO YANCEY
September 11th, 2001 Victim 

VIDEO CLIP


Click here to see a copy of Vicki's personal web page


http://www.theobserver.com/


VICKI COSTANZO YANCEY, of Springfield, died on Sept. 11, 2001. She was on board American Airlines Flight 77 on a business trip to Reno, NV, when her plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington, DC. She was 43.
Born in Kearny, she lived there before moving to Hillsborough in 1974. She recently relocated to Springfield, VA.

She graduated from Hillsborough High School in 1974. At 22, she joined the Navy and became an electronics technician. She served for six years, with four years at the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. She was a Department of Defense contractor with Vrendenburg Co. of Washington, D.C.

She is survived by her husband, David, her two daughters Michele, 18, and Carolyn, 15. Also surviving is her father Salvatore Costanzo of Hamilton, sister Gloria and brother-in-law Bruce Snekszer of Acworth, GA, and brothers Raymond and Richard Costanzo of North Carolina. She is also survived by several nieces and nephews.

A funeral mass was held at St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church in Springfield, VA, followed by a Military Guard and the presentation of the American flag to her husband David.

Donations in memory of Vicki Yancey can be made in her name to the Pentagon Relief Fund.


From: http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story136226.html

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Undone by 9/11, families on the mend

Laurence Hammack THE ROANOKE TIMES

 

 

9 a.m., Sept. 11: Eileen Kennedy arrives at a beauty salon near her Smith Mountain Lake home for a manicure. The news is on. As soon as Kennedy fathoms the fact that an airliner has struck the north tower of the World Trade Center, she thinks of her son.

Tom Kennedy is a New York City firefighter. His station is just across the East River from the World Trade Center.

"That can't be far from Tom," Kennedy says to herself. "I wonder if he's there."

Michelle Yancey gets out of biology class and walks back to her Virginia Tech dormitory. She learns the news from students huddled around television sets.

Yancey calls her father in Springfield. "Your mother is in the air right now," he tells her, shortly before a third plane crashes into the Pentagon.

Vicki Yancey is on a flight out of Dulles International Airport on a business trip to Reno, Nev. Always the optimist, Michelle Yancey figures her mother's flight will be safely diverted.

"It never, ever, ever crossed my mind that she would be on one of those planes," Yancey said.

John Britton, an electrician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, tries to work despite the day's distractions.

Britton and a co-worker are down the hall from a television in the hospital's security office. Their information comes in snatches, delivered by passing workers.

A United Airlines flight has just gone down in Pennsylvania, someone tells Britton.

Britton will not learn until the following day, when his telephone rings early in the morning, that his sister, Marion, was on that plane.

Each died at a different attack site: Tom Kennedy at the World Trade Center; Vicki Yancey at the Pentagon; Marion Britton in western Pennsylvania.

Each left behind family in Southwest Virginia: parents in Franklin County, a daughter at Tech, a brother in Roanoke County.

Nearly one year later, the victims' relatives are finding different ways to cope.

Bill Kennedy, a retired New York firefighter, proudly counts his son among the fallen heroes. He and his wife, Eileen, have accumulated a lake house full of photographs, mementos and tributes to Tom.

Michelle Yancey, who returned to Tech two weeks after her mother's death, left all the photographs back home. She has embraced college life as a welcome diversion.

John Britton keeps a low profile. Now retired, he left the VA Medical Center in May without telling many co-workers about his loss. Although deeply affected by Marion's death, he wants nothing to do with lawsuits or relief funds.

The Kennedys, Yancey and Britton have never met.

But in recent interviews, they were not surprised to learn that even in Southwest Virginia, hundreds of miles from the terrorists' targets, grief has company.

Tom Kennedy

Jan 24, 1965 - Sept. 11, 2001

Tom Kennedy was supposed to be off Sept. 11.

A few days earlier, he agreed to trade shifts with a fellow firefighter.

So instead of being with his wife, Allison, and two sons - 2-year-old Michael and 10-month-old James - at their Islip Terrace home, Kennedy was at Ladder Company 101's fire station in Brooklyn when the first 911 call came in.

As Bill Kennedy watched the news in Virginia, he didn't know whether his son was working. But he knew from experience that if Tom was on duty, he'd be one of the first firefighters to arrive at the scene.

Father and son had often talked about the job they loved. Tom would call, chat with his mother for a few minutes, then spend the next hour talking with his father about the latest fire he had worked.

They talked about the danger but didn't dwell on it.

"You never think anything is going to happen to you; otherwise you wouldn't be able to do that job," said Kennedy, a 29-year veteran of the department. He once had to be rescued after the roof of a burning factory collapsed on him.

This fire was different. Kennedy called his daughter-in-law and learned that Tom was working. She promised to call as soon as she got any news. The Kennedys turned back to their television to see the south tower collapse, then the north one.

They watched in vain for any sign of their son.

About noon, Allison called. She said Tom and the rest of his company had been accounted for.

"Of course we all breathed easier," Eileen Kennedy said. "That's the way we went to bed that night."

Shortly after midnight, Allison called again. "Tom's missing," she said. The earlier news had been a mix-up.

Bill and Eileen packed their bags and prepared for the 10-hour drive to New York. Based on what she had seen that day, Eileen already knew what to expect.

"Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Tom lying on his stomach," she said. "And in my mind, he was already dead.

"I think what bothered me is that if he wasn't, he was somewhere where he was suffering and couldn't be gotten to, and that bothered me even more. So maybe it was easier to tell myself that he was dead, so I could get through it."

Bill Kennedy clung to hope, but only for a day or two. "Once you saw the extent of what happened, I didn't think anybody was going to come out of it alive," he said.

Braced for bad news, the Kennedys had to settle for no news.

They spent the next two weeks at their son's home, waiting for information with Allison and the boys. A stream of family and friends dropped by, unsure whether to offer encouragement or condolences.

Whenever a car pulled into the driveway, 2-year-old Michael would run to the front door and look outside. "He'd slam the door shut and say, 'That's not my daddy,' " Eileen Kennedy said.

Finally, on Nov. 3, rescue workers found Tom Kennedy's body. He and another firefighter were in the stairwell of what was once a hotel adjacent to the south tower. In all, more than 3,000 people perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The death certificate called Tom's death a homicide.

Nearly a year later, Eileen Kennedy doesn't follow the latest news about the war on terrorism.

"I read as little as possible about it," she said. "For now, it's just a safe thing for me to do. I don't need anger in my life right now. I would rather remember Tom as who he was and what he did."

Her husband feels different. "I'm angry," he said. "No doubt about it."

But anger is tempered by an outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike.

Nearly 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Tom. Money from fund-raisers by the Scruggs Volunteer Fire Department and other groups across the country will put his children through school. A man who didn't know the Kennedys ran a marathon in London to raise money for the family.

"People have been fantastic," Bill Kennedy said. "I don't want to say it never ends, because I hope it doesn't. I hope people never forget." On a basement wall, Kennedy has started a tribute to his son: photographs, newspaper articles, a folded American flag from the memorial service, a resolution from the Virginia House of Delegates that proclaims Tom Kennedy a hero.

"He didn't die in vain because they saved 25,000 people," Kennedy said. "That alone makes you feel like he did his job. . . . That's what he was sworn to do, and that's what he did."

In addition to her son's heroism, Eileen Kennedy says, "I would like people to remember that he was a man who had a family that loved him very much. He was a good husband and father, a good son and brother. He was just a gentle, gentle person."

Her last memory of Tom is from Labor Day 2001, when he brought the family down for a visit. She has a picture of him and the boys from that weekend. Not long after the photograph was taken, Tom packed up the car and said goodbye.

"Tom was the best hugger; I always told him that," Eileen Kennedy said. "He gave me this big hug and he said, 'We're going to try to get back down for Thanksgiving.'

"That was the last thing he said to me."

Vicki Yancey

Jan. 14, 1957 - Sept. 11, 2001

The first time Michelle Yancey fired a gun, it was at a paper Osama bin Laden target.

During Tech's winter break, Yancey visited her grandfather's home in rural Kentucky. Someone had come across the bin Laden target at a gun store, and the men in the family decided it would be a good thing to pump it full of lead.

When it was Yancey's turn to shoot, she laughingly went along.

"It was kind of cool," she said. But the attraction for Yancey was the first-time experience of shooting a gun - not what was on the receiving end.

"It wasn't like I was venting any aggression," she said. "But I could tell the guys were. I just saw it as a regular target. I didn't see any person behind it."

Unlike her father, her grandfather and many other people who lost loved ones Sept. 11, Michelle Yancey is not particularly angry at bin Laden or anyone else. Nor is she weepy when talking about her mother, Vicki Yancey, one of the 189 people killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

"I'm not callous or cold," she said, "but I'm not exactly an emotional person."

One year ago this month, Yancey was like many college freshmen - ready for a new life away from parents and home. She would joke with her mother, who called every other day.

"I said, 'You don't have to call me all the time, Mom. I'm OK,' " Yancey recalled.

During one of their last conversations, Vicki Yancey mentioned something about an upcoming business trip to Reno. Yancey, a former electronics technician for the Navy, worked for Vrendenburg Corp., a defense contractor with offices near the Pentagon.

A political junkie, Vicki Yancey loved life inside the Beltway. In 1981, after writing a letter to The Washington Post about rising financial burdens on the country's middle class, Yancey was invited to testify at a congressional hearing on tax reform.

It was the most interesting thing she had ever done, Yancey wrote on her personal Web page.

Michelle Yancey forgot about her mother's business trip until the morning of Sept. 11, when she called her father after hearing news of the attacks. At the time, David Yancey was having a hard time determining what American Airlines flight his wife was on, because of last-minute changes in her travel plans.

Figuring that her mother's flight had been diverted, Yancey went back to watching the news. By then, the Pentagon had been struck. When some students mentioned that they lived near the Pentagon, Yancey said she did, too - and that her mother was flying that day.

Then, about 12:45 p.m., Yancey's father called. Vicki Yancey had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon, he told his daughter.

Michelle Yancey began to sob on the phone. But "after half an hour, I stopped crying and was in shock," she said. "I was just kind of detached for the rest of the day."

Later in the day, several of Yancey's friends drove her home to Springfield.

"I think I was one of the least emotional people there," Yancey said. "My dad in particular was a wreck, and I guess somebody needed not to be a wreck."

When Yancey got back to campus two weeks later, it seemed as if everyone knew who she was.

"That kind of thing changes people's perceptions of you," she said. "They were all sympathetic, but I didn't need their sympathy."

"I hated it from the beginning. My dorm mates didn't know what to say to me. They were very quiet. It was almost like they didn't want to talk to me."

After a while, Yancey made it a point not to mention her mother's death when she met new friends. When Sept. 11 came up in class discussions, she weighed in without saying how she was affected.

"I want my opinion to be counted the same as anyone else's," she explained.

Had her classmates known, they might have been surprised by some of her views. Yancey says she has yet to see proof of bin Laden's involvement, questions the wisdom of immediate military action and finds it puzzling that many people had trouble sleeping after Sept. 11.

"People assume that I'm going to be one of those angry, hurting people," she said. "It's not that I don't care; it's just that some things happen and you can't change it."

Yancey does not accept the notion that every American who died in the attacks is a hero.

"People are trying to feel better about it, so they glorify them as heroes," she said.

"I think she's definitely a part of history," Yancey said of her mother. "She was a good, honorable person and she did a lot of good things, but I don't see how this one event made her more honorable just by the way she died."

So how should her mother be remembered?

"I guess as a patriot," Yancey said. "She died serving her country, because she was under orders from the military" through her work with a defense contractor. "I think that alone qualifies her as a patriot. But hero? I don't think so."

Marion Britton

April 28, 1948 - Sept. 11, 2001

John Britton knows what it's like to be on a doomed aircraft.

He served three tours of duty in Vietnam as crew chief on a U.S. Marines helicopter.

Twice, he experienced what he called a "forced landing" - a military euphemism for being shot down. One helicopter went down in a rice paddy. Another crash-landed in a narrow, wooded valley. Both times, Britton escaped unharmed.

It was something he was trained for, Britton said, a risk he accepted at the beginning of each mission.

His sister did not have the benefit of such foresight.

Marion Britton was one of 37 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed Sept. 11 near Shanksville, Pa.

"I guess the hardest part is having an idea of what she was going to go through, knowing the plane was going to go down," he said. "For most people it would be a totally helpless situation. . . . That's the part that disturbs me the most, visualizing her being strapped in a seat and going down."

At that point in the interview in his Roanoke County home, Britton's voice broke. He excused himself and left the room.

"I was the one who was supposed to go out like that," he said later.

Marion Britton was supposed to go to San Francisco. The assistant regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau's office in Manhattan, she and a co-worker were headed to a conference the morning of Sept. 11.

Around the office, Britton spoke her mind with a New York bluntness that took some people aback. But she was also remembered as the census enumerator who would drop in on impoverished households to ask questions, only to return later with a bag of groceries.

"She was very loving, but very much in your face," John Britton said.

After Britton enlisted in the Marines and left home as a 17-year-old, his younger sister scolded him for not writing home more often.

Throughout his military career, Britton stayed in touch with his family the best he could. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Roanoke, where his wife had family, and took a job with the VA Medical Center.

In the days after Sept. 11, when some relatives of the Flight 93 victims appeared on national television, Britton shunned the spotlight. At first, he didn't tell neighbors or co-workers about what had happened.

"At work, I simply said my sister died," he said. It was months before many people learned how she died.

Even now, Britton is reluctant to use Sept. 11 to draw attention to himself. He didn't want his photograph taken for this article. "That was my sister on Flight 93, not me," he said.

The attention should go to her and the passengers who reportedly overpowered the hijackers in the plane's cockpit, forcing it to go down into an empty field instead of a crowded building. "I really have to take my hat off to them," he said.

Knowing Marion, "there's no doubt in my mind that she was cheering them on," he said.

Earlier this year, family members of Flight 93 passengers were invited to listen to tapes of the cockpit struggle. Britton declined.

"I'm not really interested in the grisly details," he said. "I've been to too many plane wrecks, and I know how bodies can get scattered around."

Britton has also turned down the opportunity to collect money from relief funds or lawsuits.

"How do you go about making money off your sister's death?" he said.

This Wednesday, Britton will attend a memorial service at the site of the Pennsylvania plane crash. Michelle Yancey was hoping to be at a similar event at the Pentagon. The Kennedys will stay closer to home, attending a service in Rocky Mount.

For some, the anniversary of Sept. 11 will be more than a memorial. It will also serve as a warning of future terrorist threats.

"Tom is in a safe place now," Eileen Kennedy said. "We're not." As soon as Kennedy fathoms the fact that an airliner has struck the north tower of the World Trade Center, she thinks of her son.

Tom Kennedy is a New York City firefighter. His station is just across the East River from the World Trade Center.

"That can't be far from Tom," Kennedy says to herself. "I wonder if he's there."

Michelle Yancey gets out of biology class and walks back to her Virginia Tech dormitory. She learns the news from students huddled around television sets.

Yancey calls her father in Springfield. "Your mother is in the air right now," he tells her, shortly before a third plane crashes into the Pentagon.

Vicki Yancey is on a flight out of Dulles International Airport on a business trip to Reno, Nev. Always the optimist, Michelle Yancey figures her mother's flight will be safely diverted.

"It never, ever, ever crossed my mind that she would be on one of those planes," Yancey said.

John Britton, an electrician at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, tries to work despite the day's distractions.

Britton and a co-worker are down the hall from a television in the hospital's security office. Their information comes in snatches, delivered by passing workers.

A United Airlines flight has just gone down in Pennsylvania, someone tells Britton.

Britton will not learn until the following day, when his telephone rings early in the morning, that his sister, Marion, was on that plane.

Each died at a different attack site: Tom Kennedy at the World Trade Center; Vicki Yancey at the Pentagon; Marion Britton in western Pennsylvania.

Each left behind family in Southwest Virginia: parents in Franklin County, a daughter at Tech, a brother in Roanoke County.

Nearly one year later, the victims' relatives are finding different ways to cope.

Bill Kennedy, a retired New York firefighter, proudly counts his son among the fallen heroes. He and his wife, Eileen, have accumulated a lake house full of photographs, mementos and tributes to Tom.

Michelle Yancey, who returned to Tech two weeks after her mother's death, left all the photographs back home. She has embraced college life as a welcome diversion.

John Britton keeps a low profile. Now retired, he left the VA Medical Center in May without telling many co-workers about his loss. Although deeply affected by Marion's death, he wants nothing to do with lawsuits or relief funds.

The Kennedys, Yancey and Britton have never met.

But in recent interviews, they were not surprised to learn that even in Southwest Virginia, hundreds of miles from the terrorists' targets, grief has company.

Tom Kennedy

Jan 24, 1965 - Sept. 11, 2001

Tom Kennedy was supposed to be off Sept. 11.

A few days earlier, he agreed to trade shifts with a fellow firefighter.

So instead of being with his wife, Allison, and two sons - 2-year-old Michael and 10-month-old James - at their Islip Terrace home, Kennedy was at Ladder Company 101's fire station in Brooklyn when the first 911 call came in.

As Bill Kennedy watched the news in Virginia, he didn't know whether his son was working. But he knew from experience that if Tom was on duty, he'd be one of the first firefighters to arrive at the scene.

Father and son had often talked about the job they loved. Tom would call, chat with his mother for a few minutes, then spend the next hour talking with his father about the latest fire he had worked.

They talked about the danger but didn't dwell on it.

"You never think anything is going to happen to you; otherwise you wouldn't be able to do that job," said Kennedy, a 29-year veteran of the department. He once had to be rescued after the roof of a burning factory collapsed on him.

This fire was different. Kennedy called his daughter-in-law and learned that Tom was working. She promised to call as soon as she got any news. The Kennedys turned back to their television to see the south tower collapse, then the north one.

They watched in vain for any sign of their son.

About noon, Allison called. She said Tom and the rest of his company had been accounted for.

"Of course we all breathed easier," Eileen Kennedy said. "That's the way we went to bed that night."

Shortly after midnight, Allison called again. "Tom's missing," she said. The earlier news had been a mix-up.

Bill and Eileen packed their bags and prepared for the 10-hour drive to New York. Based on what she had seen that day, Eileen already knew what to expect.

"Every time I closed my eyes, all I could see was Tom lying on his stomach," she said. "And in my mind, he was already dead.

"I think what bothered me is that if he wasn't, he was somewhere where he was suffering and couldn't be gotten to, and that bothered me even more. So maybe it was easier to tell myself that he was dead, so I could get through it."

Bill Kennedy clung to hope, but only for a day or two. "Once you saw the extent of what happened, I didn't think anybody was going to come out of it alive," he said.

Braced for bad news, the Kennedys had to settle for no news.

They spent the next two weeks at their son's home, waiting for information with Allison and the boys. A stream of family and friends dropped by, unsure whether to offer encouragement or condolences.

Whenever a car pulled into the driveway, 2-year-old Michael would run to the front door and look outside. "He'd slam the door shut and say, 'That's not my daddy,' " Eileen Kennedy said.

Finally, on Nov. 3, rescue workers found Tom Kennedy's body. He and another firefighter were in the stairwell of what was once a hotel adjacent to the south tower. In all, more than 3,000 people perished in the attacks on the World Trade Center. The death certificate called Tom's death a homicide.

Nearly a year later, Eileen Kennedy doesn't follow the latest news about the war on terrorism.

"I read as little as possible about it," she said. "For now, it's just a safe thing for me to do. I don't need anger in my life right now. I would rather remember Tom as who he was and what he did."

Her husband feels different. "I'm angry," he said. "No doubt about it."

But anger is tempered by an outpouring of support from friends and strangers alike.

Nearly 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Tom. Money from fund-raisers by the Scruggs Volunteer Fire Department and other groups across the country will put his children through school. A man who didn't know the Kennedys ran a marathon in London to raise money for the family.

"People have been fantastic," Bill Kennedy said. "I don't want to say it never ends, because I hope it doesn't. I hope people never forget." On a basement wall, Kennedy has started a tribute to his son: photographs, newspaper articles, a folded American flag from the memorial service, a resolution from the Virginia House of Delegates that proclaims Tom Kennedy a hero.

"He didn't die in vain because they saved 25,000 people," Kennedy said. "That alone makes you feel like he did his job. . . . That's what he was sworn to do, and that's what he did."

In addition to her son's heroism, Eileen Kennedy says, "I would like people to remember that he was a man who had a family that loved him very much. He was a good husband and father, a good son and brother. He was just a gentle, gentle person."

Her last memory of Tom is from Labor Day 2001, when he brought the family down for a visit. She has a picture of him and the boys from that weekend. Not long after the photograph was taken, Tom packed up the car and said goodbye.

"Tom was the best hugger; I always told him that," Eileen Kennedy said. "He gave me this big hug and he said, 'We're going to try to get back down for Thanksgiving.'

"That was the last thing he said to me."

Vicki Yancey

Jan. 14, 1957 - Sept. 11, 2001

The first time Michelle Yancey fired a gun, it was at a paper Osama bin Laden target.

During Tech's winter break, Yancey visited her grandfather's home in rural Kentucky. Someone had come across the bin Laden target at a gun store, and the men in the family decided it would be a good thing to pump it full of lead.

When it was Yancey's turn to shoot, she laughingly went along.

"It was kind of cool," she said. But the attraction for Yancey was the first-time experience of shooting a gun - not what was on the receiving end.

"It wasn't like I was venting any aggression," she said. "But I could tell the guys were. I just saw it as a regular target. I didn't see any person behind it."

Unlike her father, her grandfather and many other people who lost loved ones Sept. 11, Michelle Yancey is not particularly angry at bin Laden or anyone else. Nor is she weepy when talking about her mother, Vicki Yancey, one of the 189 people killed in the attack on the Pentagon.

"I'm not callous or cold," she said, "but I'm not exactly an emotional person."

One year ago this month, Yancey was like many college freshmen - ready for a new life away from parents and home. She would joke with her mother, who called every other day.

"I said, 'You don't have to call me all the time, Mom. I'm OK,' " Yancey recalled.

During one of their last conversations, Vicki Yancey mentioned something about an upcoming business trip to Reno. Yancey, a former electronics technician for the Navy, worked for Vrendenburg Corp., a defense contractor with offices near the Pentagon.

A political junkie, Vicki Yancey loved life inside the Beltway. In 1981, after writing a letter to The Washington Post about rising financial burdens on the country's middle class, Yancey was invited to testify at a congressional hearing on tax reform.

It was the most interesting thing she had ever done, Yancey wrote on her personal Web page.

Michelle Yancey forgot about her mother's business trip until the morning of Sept. 11, when she called her father after hearing news of the attacks. At the time, David Yancey was having a hard time determining what American Airlines flight his wife was on, because of last-minute changes in her travel plans.

Figuring that her mother's flight had been diverted, Yancey went back to watching the news. By then, the Pentagon had been struck. When some students mentioned that they lived near the Pentagon, Yancey said she did, too - and that her mother was flying that day.

Then, about 12:45 p.m., Yancey's father called. Vicki Yancey had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon, he told his daughter.

Michelle Yancey began to sob on the phone. But "after half an hour, I stopped crying and was in shock," she said. "I was just kind of detached for the rest of the day."

Later in the day, several of Yancey's friends drove her home to Springfield.

"I think I was one of the least emotional people there," Yancey said. "My dad in particular was a wreck, and I guess somebody needed not to be a wreck."

When Yancey got back to campus two weeks later, it seemed as if everyone knew who she was.

"That kind of thing changes people's perceptions of you," she said. "They were all sympathetic, but I didn't need their sympathy."

"I hated it from the beginning. My dorm mates didn't know what to say to me. They were very quiet. It was almost like they didn't want to talk to me."

After a while, Yancey made it a point not to mention her mother's death when she met new friends. When Sept. 11 came up in class discussions, she weighed in without saying how she was affected.

"I want my opinion to be counted the same as anyone else's," she explained.

Had her classmates known, they might have been surprised by some of her views. Yancey says she has yet to see proof of bin Laden's involvement, questions the wisdom of immediate military action and finds it puzzling that many people had trouble sleeping after Sept. 11.

"People assume that I'm going to be one of those angry, hurting people," she said. "It's not that I don't care; it's just that some things happen and you can't change it."

Yancey does not accept the notion that every American who died in the attacks is a hero.

"People are trying to feel better about it, so they glorify them as heroes," she said.

"I think she's definitely a part of history," Yancey said of her mother. "She was a good, honorable person and she did a lot of good things, but I don't see how this one event made her more honorable just by the way she died."

So how should her mother be remembered?

"I guess as a patriot," Yancey said. "She died serving her country, because she was under orders from the military" through her work with a defense contractor. "I think that alone qualifies her as a patriot. But hero? I don't think so."

Marion Britton

April 28, 1948 - Sept. 11, 2001

John Britton knows what it's like to be on a doomed aircraft.

He served three tours of duty in Vietnam as crew chief on a U.S. Marines helicopter.

Twice, he experienced what he called a "forced landing" - a military euphemism for being shot down. One helicopter went down in a rice paddy. Another crash-landed in a narrow, wooded valley. Both times, Britton escaped unharmed.

It was something he was trained for, Britton said, a risk he accepted at the beginning of each mission.

His sister did not have the benefit of such foresight. Marion Britton was one of 37 passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 when it crashed Sept. 11 near Shanksville, Pa.

"I guess the hardest part is having an idea of what she was going to go through, knowing the plane was going to go down," he said. "For most people it would be a totally helpless situation. . . . That's the part that disturbs me the most, visualizing her being strapped in a seat and going down."

At that point in the interview in his Roanoke County home, Britton's voice broke. He excused himself and left the room.

"I was the one who was supposed to go out like that," he said later.

Marion Britton was supposed to go to San Francisco. The assistant regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau's office in Manhattan, she and a co-worker were headed to a conference the morning of Sept. 11.

Around the office, Britton spoke her mind with a New York bluntness that took some people aback. But she was also remembered as the census enumerator who would drop in on impoverished households to ask questions, only to return later with a bag of groceries.

"She was very loving, but very much in your face," John Britton said.

After Britton enlisted in the Marines and left home as a 17-year-old, his younger sister scolded him for not writing home more often.

Throughout his military career, Britton stayed in touch with his family the best he could. In the mid-1970s, he moved to Roanoke, where his wife had family, and took a job with the VA Medical Center.

In the days after Sept. 11, when some relatives of the Flight 93 victims appeared on national television, Britton shunned the spotlight. At first, he didn't tell neighbors or co-workers about what had happened.

"At work, I simply said my sister died," he said. It was months before many people learned how she died.

Even now, Britton is reluctant to use Sept. 11 to draw attention to himself. He didn't want his photograph taken for this article. "That was my sister on Flight 93, not me," he said.

The attention should go to her and the passengers who reportedly overpowered the hijackers in the plane's cockpit, forcing it to go down into an empty field instead of a crowded building. "I really have to take my hat off to them," he said.

Knowing Marion, "there's no doubt in my mind that she was cheering them on," he said.

Earlier this year, family members of Flight 93 passengers were invited to listen to tapes of the cockpit struggle. Britton declined.

"I'm not really interested in the grisly details," he said. "I've been to too many plane wrecks, and I know how bodies can get scattered around."

Britton has also turned down the opportunity to collect money from relief funds or lawsuits.

"How do you go about making money off your sister's death?" he said.

This Wednesday, Britton will attend a memorial service at the site of the Pennsylvania plane crash. Michelle Yancey was hoping to be at a similar event at the Pentagon. The Kennedys will stay closer to home, attending a service in Rocky Mount.

For some, the anniversary of Sept. 11 will be more than a memorial. It will also serve as a warning of future terrorist threats.

"Tom is in a safe place now," Eileen Kennedy said. "We're not."

 


 

From: http://www.myinky.com/ecp/local_news/article/0,1626,ECP_745_920539,00.html

Sept. 11 victims' kin trying to cope

By The Associated Press

LAGRANGE, Ky. - The Yanceys of Oldham County and the Gamboas of Jefferson County have their own ways of dealing with their losses in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

John and Anna Yancey prepared for a family gathering over the Christmas holiday at their 100-acre spread in Oldham County.

Their son's wife, Vicki Yancey, 45, a naval consultant in Washington, D.C., was on the plane hijackers crashed into the Pentagon.

"My doctor warned me that Christmas is the most difficult time to deal with something like this," said Anna Yancey. "But our family being here is our salvation."

A county away, Ranulfo and Renee Gamboa are grieving their son, Ronald, 33, a Trinity High School graduate, who was aboard one of the planes hijackers crashed into the World Trade Center towers.

"Sometimes my wife and I just break down crying," said Ranulfo Gamboa, 68, who followed a Filipino tradition by praying for nine nights after the death of his son.

Gamboa is still angry about what happened, and his rage disconnects him from the holiday cheer everyone else radiates, he said.

"Ronnie was an innocent person. He was as far from political as he could be," Gamboa said.

This year before Christmas, Gamboa barely touched the holiday decorations he usually puts up. Instead, he spent time remaking a study into a picture- and memorabilia-filled shrine to his son in the family's large home.

The Gamboas didn't hold their annual party on Christmas Eve. They're not cooking a Christmas

dinner at home. And although they reluctantly put up a tree, it lay undecorated on a recent day.

"Each stocking has a child's name on it. We still haven't decided whether to hang his or not," he said. "When everybody's there, but somebody's missing - I can't bear that."

Still, the tragedy has helped bring the family together as never before. One of Ronnie's two sisters and her family have moved into her parents' home to comfort them. Another daughter has sold her home in Philadelphia to live in Louisville, close to her parents. They all planned to be together for Christmas.

"Family - having them here - is what has saved us," Gamboa said. It has also helped save John and Anna Yancey, both 68 years old.

Vicki Yancey left behind two daughters: Michelle, 18, a freshman at Virginia Tech; and Carolyn, 15, a high school sophomore in Fairfax County, Va.