Tyler Pilot Remembers Perished Colleagues from 9/11 - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Tyler Pilot Remembers Perished Colleagues from 9/11

"You could tell from the colors it was either US Air or United Airlines airplane. So I got very upset," says United Airline Captain Shawn Werchan.

He recalls the day he saw images of the United Airlines plane flying into the World Trade Center.

He would later learn, he would never share the cockpit again with colleagues Victor Saracini, Michael Horrocks and LeRoy Homer.

"I was probably more affected by LeRoy Homer," says Werchan.

Werchan flew with Homer before in the air force.

But two weeks before 9/11 they shared a conversation over dinner. It was as if Homer was almost foreshadowing what was to come.

"He was talking about life insurance," Werchan recalls. "And back then the airlines were doing great. And LeRoy was saying, 'I have a new baby I'm thinking about getting life insurance.'  I was like, 'LeRoy come on we're going to be taken care of, we have life insurance with the company, everything is looking great.'"

Homer's plane went down in Pennsylvania. Saracini's and Horrocks' into the World Trade Center. 

Despite such tragic deaths, Werchan's memories of his friends are happy ones.

"Vick Saracini, I've flown with him to L.A. once and he had a great Forest Gump impression, which really made me laugh," says Werchan. He adds, "Horrocks and I flew to San Paolo and he was a marine and just a super nice guy."

Since 9/11, flying procedures have changed for this 11-year commercial airline veteran, including security procedures of how to disarm the plane if they're hijacked.

"[Our company] would have put you in a psych ward if you talked about taking an airplane down so that someone can't use it as a weapon.  That's when it really sunk in, that it's a different kind of job now," says Werchan.

But one thing that hasn't changed is probably something his colleagues would have expected: America's resolve to fight for freedom.  And united we will stand.

Werchan says the fourth United Airlines pilot who died, Jason Dahl, was not even supposed to be flying that morning.

Dahl could not get a captain to fly Flight 93 that day, so he decided to fly it himself.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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