By Mike Daudet
February 01, 2006
Although it pales in comparison to the grief Sherry and the family feels, our sense of loss is profound. Like many family and friends we have been reading Sitnews to get a sense of the locals' perspectives and try to decipher the unimaginable. It has also served to connect people around the country who cared about Butch as many from Texas, Alabama, and other places have also written to the site.
That so many of you who live in Ketchikan have hailed Butch in the wake of such a disruption to your town has been of incredible comfort to Butch's family, and to me personally. It is difficult to convey how meaningful your unexpected words have been.
Yesterday, I was startled to find out that a close work colleague of mine has a sister who lives in Ketchikan. Last night I was fortunate to spend a considerable amount of time talking with my colleague's brother-in-law Bart Meyer.
Bart's sincere concern for the Freeman family and his description of other friends feeling the same way, the action he and hundreds of other locals immediately took to try to find a downed pilot, and most of all his genuine gratitude toward Butch for finding the one, last place to guide down his plane that saved others has humbled me. Bart used words such as "hero" and "thankful" in describing his thoughts of Butch -- and it was clear he had been as concerned about the Freeman family as he has been his own community over the past week. Bart told me this was the general sentiment of the aviation-oriented town in which he lives.
And then, after graciously spending two hours on the phone with a stranger wanting to talk about a friend and the town in which he died, Bart repeatedly thanked me for calling.
I look forward to visiting Ketchikan and meeting Bart and his family, as well as getting to know your town better. It has been written that Butch was the "best of the best" and it was true. But what I have been coming to learn through residents' letters posted on this site and my conversation last night is that he gave his life to save others that were cut from the same cloth.
In that, I can take no greater comfort.
About: Friend and neighbor of Butch and Sherry Freeman. Butch and I have subjected our wives and kids to more smokey backyard barbeques and firepits than two good women deserve.
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