My New York Trip
It all started on Thursday August 24th when I received an E-mail from Dian Groh. Dian stated she received my E-mail address and phone number from Lesley Boyle of The Day, which is a New London and Southeast Connecticut newspaper, and that she was writing a children’s book about Pan Am 90943 flight 006 to increase an interest in history of real live heroes not ridiculous sports figures and movie stars. She went on to ask various questions about the ditching and the rescue operations. The book was to be published by November 1st to be ready for the Pan Am Museum Foundation gala and opening of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser exhibit at Cradle of Aviation in Garden City, NY on the 11th of November. This was the first time that I had heard about the event.
Sunday August 27th I replied to Dian and gave her he information she requested on the ditch.
It was shortly after talking to Dian that I received an e-mail from Linda Freire
co-chair of the Pan Am Museum Foundation informing me that they were in contact with Frank Garcia the flight engineer on Pan Am flight 6. She requested to know if I had any other names of people that were involved, I gave her contact information on Len Specia (Mary Ellen Daniel), Wayne Hokom, Dick Olson and Maureen and Elizabeth the Gordon twins. I then received a flyer of the event “Viva HAVANA 2017 Gala – Saturday November 11. It was to celebrate the 90th Anniversary of Pan Am and the unveiling of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser exhibit.
I called Len and told her about the event and she indicated that her and Tony her husband would attend. That was when I decided that I would also try to attend also. I called Linda and informed her that I was going to attend.
On Thursday September 28th I received the following E-mail from Ed Garcia
Good Morning Doak,
Linda Freire at the PanAm museum gave us your Contact. Roberta Dunn and
Myself wish to write an article in our paper “The Metropolitan Airport News” on the ditching of Flt. 6 in the Pacific in 1956. We wish this article to coincide with the “Havana Gala” in November at the cradle of Aviation.
Roberta Dunn is one of our editors and I am Director of Sales.
We have the ability to give this story a good slant with our back grounds.
Doak, please contact us to discuss this potential story for our paper. Any photos would be welcome. Thank You, Ed Garcia. Also paper is on line at metroairportnews.com
On Monday October 9th I gave Ed and Roberta the interview, the same one I did for the Juneau Empire on the 50th anniversary of the ditching.
On the 10th of October I received another e-mail from Linda with another updated flyer and informed me that my $250.00 admission fee would be donated in appreciation for the information on the ditch that I provided.
This flyer gave the HONOREE CLASS OF 2017 this class and special guests to this year’s gala include employees from different employee groups who were involved in flying, servicing and promoting the Stratocruiser Boeing 377. The class is Frank Garcia Jr, Mary Ellen Daniels, Bronnwen Roberts, Madeline Smith, Barbara Sharfstine, M.J. (Jack) Gringer, Raymond Kenneth Boyce, John Diestel and Richard (Dick) Blair.
Wednesday October 11th received a copy of Dian Groh’s story to view and commit on it.
Thursday October 12th told Dian the story was wonderful and pointed a couple of changes
Monday Oct 16th received an E-mail from Linda with the Bio Format for Viva Havana Gala and what information they requested.
Saturday October 21st received an e-mail from Ed Garcia with the story they wrote for their paper and ask me to proof read it. The story was good but they had me receiving the message from the aircraft and I had them to change it to read our Combat Information Center (CIC) that received the initial message.
Monday October 23rd received an e-mail from Christine Negroni informing me that she is writing for the New York Times on the ditching of the Pan Am stratocruiser in 1956. I would like to talk to you on the phone. Are you available today of which I replied yes and gave my phone numbers. Christine is an award-winning journalist, published author, speaker and broadcast specializing in aviation safety and travel. Her new Book “The Crash Detectives” I told her I had ordered a copy of the book and she told me to bring it and she would sign it.
Thursday October 26th I received another Gala flyer and this time my name was listed in with the other Honorees. It also had a brief item about Frank Garcia, Len Specia and myself.
Wednesday November 8th My friend and former shipmate Master Chief Vernon Jones and I departed Juneau for JFK Long Island, NY via Seattle.This was also the day Christine Negroni’s story appeared in the New York Times. It was titled “A Miracle on the Pacific, 53 Years Before Sully Landed on the Hudson”
After a four hour layover in Seattle we arrived at 0600 Thursday morning at JFK airport. Our taxi ride to the Hilton Hampton Inn was $60.00. It was too early to check in but the clerk tried to get us a room early. In the mean time she wanted a picture of Jones and I with our Viet Nam Veteran cowboy hats. After about an hour we had a room. The hotel had a special rate for people attending the Pan Am Gala of $159.00 however, the clerk gave us another $7.00 discount being veterans. The rest of the day was just relaxing and getting used to the time change.
Friday we went to The Cradle of Aviation Museum located on Charles Lindbergh Blvd in East Garden City. The Pan Am museum Foundation was on the 3rd floor.
We met Mr. Kelly Cusack the Director Collections & Curation we were given a tour of the various exhibits, and explained the new exhibit being put together which is the 377 Boeing Stratocruiser.
Back at the hotel I received a call from Mrs. Freire that she would be picking us up at 6:00pm for dinner. On the way we stopped to pick up Frank Garcia Jr and his wife Dolly Goolsby. At the restaurant we were joined at the table by Dino Vlahakis and Debbie Martin Fuller a former Pam stewardess. After dinner we sat around and talked for a while. Debbie told us about a t-shirt she use to wear and it said “Marry Me Fly Free” I guess it worked as she married the guy that took her up on it and they have been married for many years. After dinner Linda dropped us off at the hotel and called it a night.
Saturday 11 Nov
Today is veterans day and at 4:30pm we departed the hotel for the Gala at the Cradle of Aviation. We went to the third floor to the special reception for honored guest. Joanne the co-host started off by offering Vern and myself a glass of Champagne which we declined. I guess she thought “what sailors and they don’t drink”. For the next hour it was meet and greet the various people at the reception. I managed to get my picture with many of the ladies. After the special reception we were shown around to some of the displays and take part in a silent auction.
It was during this time that I met Christine Negroni she informed me that the story she wrote came out in this morning’s New York Times. She later singed my copy of her book “The Crash Detectives”. It was time for dinner and we all went to our assigned tables, ours being table 15 with Frank Garcia, Frank’s wife Dolly Goolsby, Len Specia, her husband Tony and their Grand Daughter who is a flight attendant, Vern and Myself.
After dinner Christine Negroni the MC introduced the” Honoree Class of 2017.”
Honoring people of a legacy were Bronwen Roberts, Madeline Smith, Elisabeth Malcolm, Brbara Sharfstein, Jack Grainger, Raymond K Boyce John Diestel and Dick Blair.
Each person gave a brief description of their time with Pan Am. Next the introduced the “Hero Honorees” which they classified Frank, Len and Myself as.
Frank told about what preparations they made prior to the plane ditching. Len was unable to stand and talk so Linda gave an account of what Len did prior to ditching.
And then it was my turn which I explained about Ocean Stations and what our function was. I also told how we made ready for the actual ditching. All while I was talking Vern and a few others were taking my picture.
This concluded the program and the gift shop was open to visit and buy souvenirs. After visiting for a while Vern and I caught a cab back to the hotel and called it a night.
Sunday 12 November – we took a taxi to the nearby shopping center and had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays. After lunch we went to the 7-11 store to get powerball tickets. Returned back to the hotel and started packing for our return back to Juneau in the morning.
Monday 13 November- 0400 was picked up by taxi and taken to JFK airport.