Ore City Airline Pilot Shares Story of 9-11 Horror, Survival - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/9/02 - Longview

Ore City Airline Pilot Shares Story of 9-11 Horror, Survival

September 11th was a glorious Tuesday morning. 

"I came out of Peoria, Illinios and went to Chicago." Larry Bridell was flying for American Eagle... en route to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"We continued taxiing out and took off and [air traffic control] wasn't saying anything abnormal to anyone in the air at that point."

This flight and this day would be anything but normal.

"We heard other pilots asking what was going on because they were being diverted from going to the East Coast." "

"I turned on ABC Radio because I knew something was really taking place."

One crash in New York, then two. Other planes were missing.  Air Traffic Control needed everyone on the ground, now. There was no way to know if there were other terrorists in the air, and where.

"We were to land at the nearest suitable safe airport, and they asked me where I wanted to go, Indianapolis or Evansville, Indiana."

"[I] knew it was a serious situation, we didn't realize how it would change the life of America."

Inbound to Evansville now, the passengers needed to know. So with a heavy heart Larry tells them something no one could ever forget. 

"I say ladies and gentlemen..., this is your captain. I need your utmost attention. There has been a terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in NY, they have flown two airplanes into the towers, and the FAA has ordered all planes to the nearest safe airport."

"I really never worried about the safety of my aircraft, because before I take off every flight, I put it in the hands of God."

Delivered to Evansville, the airline pays for the passengers to head to Louisiana. Larry stays in Indiana thinking he can take off soon.  More than anyone, he needs to get home.

"A few days before I had taken off, I was diagnosed with cancer."

Prostate cancer.  September 12th was when he needed to be getting ready for surgery in Longview. But, no one was going anywhere, and as captain, he couldn't leave his plane behind. So he waited. Four days... all the while jotting down what was in his heart. His 9/11 Journal.

"Lord and my guardian angels say they'll take care of me, how could I do anything but get better quick," he wrote.

"Whatever was going to happen, the Lord was in control." 

Larry's wife, Susie: "When Larry goes out on his trips, I always place him in God's hands."

Larry calls his wife like clockwork, "to let me know that he's fine, and I can hear his voice."

Larry: "I got back on Friday [Sept. 14] to go in Saturday for pre-op for cancer surgery Monday morning."

Everything would be fine, Larry says thanks to prayer and his doctors.

"I don't walk with God on Sundays at church, or saying grace, I walk with God 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Susie: "I think many people would absolutely crumble under most of these circumstances, you can't get a diagnosis of cancer and not have it touch you."

On 9/11 so many lives were touched: Husbands, wives, friends, never coming home.

For what reason? Larry and Susie say that God had a plan. "When you put your faith in Christ and walk with him, things like that won't happen to you, and when they do happen, it means the Lord's calling you home."

The plan they say that always continues, never fails.

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