TWA Flight 800 Crash


I worked with Coast Guard Public Affairs Atlantic Area for about 6 years. For the TWA crash, I was dispatched to assist in the setup of the command center and started fielding all the media requests.

I’ll never forget driving in that morning, 5+ checkpoints, helicopters landing, Navy, ATF and FBI everywhere, mist rolling in from the ocean.

We had a small team of Coasties working with all the others there. The Navy always sent up a male admiral or captain to speak to the media, we always sent our female PA2 which was about the only thing enjoyable. She did a great job.

It was a media nightmare, Navy, ATF, FBI and many more, all involved, and all felt in charge. I had some great shots, I’ll dig out later, of the first large wreckage that was brought ashore. The wheel assembly, hanging from a rope, with the coast guard 41-footer mored in the background, with enough room at the top for headlines. I took the film to some house with the API photog, who had setup a developing lab in the basement there, and developed the film. (The API guy was ready to link the shots up on the wire, unfortunately, the FBI confiscated my film, i was to close to the wreckage. Sucked since that shot could have been published around the world. With the CG on the cover. Oh well, I got the film back several months later all stuffed in an envelope and crumpled.

lots of hurt families, lots of scarred enlisted personnel on the front lines pulling in the bodies of loved ones waiting on the shore. One or two is usually easy to get past mentally, 100+ is different. I could only imagine what the firefighters and rescue people had to go through on 9/11.

Long story short, we didn’t sleep for days/weeks and worked international media coverage day and night. Satellite City is what we called the place where all the media trucks gathered. It was a very impressive evolution for such a tragic incident.

I wish I would have taken more photos of the general area, but didn’t have a chance to do so. We wore many hats, so photos weren’t at the top of the list unless something major was happening.

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~ by worldcrossings on March 5, 2010.

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