To Freeman's Family &
By Rick Watson
February 06, 2006
To the Wife, Children, Family and Friends of Major Steve Freeman,
I would like to tell you a little story, please bear with me.
This is the second time in my life I have experienced such a
major tragedy. When I was 9 years old growing up in Seattle,
Wash. a military jet performing in an air show at Paine Field,
Wa. crashed into a residential district only a few blocks from
our house. The pilot of the doomed aircraft in hopes of minimizing
damage and loss of life, pointed his aircraft for Lake Union
and bailed out. The aircraft crashed short of the lake and into
our residential area. The impact leveled many houses and in addition
to the devastation, several people lost their lives and there
were numerous people injured. The pilot survived the ejection.
I tell you this story because there are many similarities here
and yet many differences between this and the tragic crash and
loss of life to Major Steve Freeman. After reading the preliminary
investigation by the NTSB it solidified the fact that in my mind
he was a true Hero. According to the events reported and timeline
I believe he had enough time to eject early from his doomed aircraft
to save his life, yet he did not. He chose to ride it out to
the last possible moment, possibly trying to recover and most
likely trying to ditch his aircraft in a manor to minimize damage,
injury and possible loss of life.
The NTSB will eventually formulate a final report on the cause
of the crash. The task they have is very difficult and the true
reasons may never be known due to the extensive damage of the
aircraft and post crash fire. They will most likely offer a list
of probable causes. Regardless of what they finally report as
to what started the chain events and final crash, I will never
forget the last moments and actions Steve took and I think you
now know why.
My words can not express nor come close to expressing my gratitude
that a man of such bravery was piloting that aircraft, that day.
I just hope that by you realizing how much we (the town of Ketchikan)
and myself are thankful for that, it may ease your pain and suffering
of your loss, even if ever so slight.
Ketchikan, AK - USA
About: Rick Watson was born
and raised in Seattle Wash. He learned to fly at the age of 18
and moved to Ketchikan Alaska when he was 19 (1976) and has lived
here every since.
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