Living in West Virginia, I am an air show enthusiast. We travel to different air shows all over the place. We started planning for this year's season several months ago and ran across the Indy Air Show. While trying to decide whether or not to attend, we started looking at their entertainment lineup. When I saw the Indianapolis Survivors listed, I was like who are they...?
I started researching their story and haven't stopped learning about them months later. I've read everything I could find. I am captivated to say the least. I brought a few questions to the meet and greet hoping to get them answered. The first couple of folks were so nice. All the guys were willing to chat, even with the crowd pushing in and around me. Then it was on down the table (totally forgetting about my survivor book being signed as it was already being passed down line). I did get it signed by all those there.
I told the men that I usually go to air shows to see the planes, today I was there for them. Eplaining that I drove nearly 6 hours to get there, one said where are you from? I said, WV an hour north of Charleston sir. The next three minutes were what I considered life changing.
As I moved down the table, I got to two gentlemen (Paul McGinnis & James Jarvis) that heard me say I was from WV and they didnt know it, but they were about to make my mouth drop. They were both survivors from WV, and they told me where they were from, one still lived there. I know both areas. They asked me if I knew how many from WV was on board, and I said nahh I didn't. They said, do you know how many from WV survived? I said I'm not sure. Paul, said, well...you're looking at us. I couldn't believe that I was standing in the midst of these brave men, my state's lone survivors. As I've been reading the books, I can't imagine the ordeal they endured or and how everyone just expected their lives to resume to normal in 30 days after the ordeal. I also think about those that didn't live. Having been on several cruises, the thought of being stranded alone in the sea is horrifying in itself. How their lives and the event must have affected family back home, and their kids without a father, son or brother. People who never saw their sailor again, how did they move on knowing they were lost at sea. How did they react to the survivor stories, wondering what their family member's fate was.
I have been telling everyone I can the story, I'm learning. I'm about midway through their book that I purchased at the air show. I can't stop reading it. I want to reach out to these folks and say thanks.
Professionally, I am a communicator and always have been. I used to be a news director and worked many years on-air. Today, I work in state government and do crisis communications. As I read this story, I think what would I have done? I wish I could set down with these folks on video and just have a discussion. I really am so honored to have learned about them before they are all gone. I still cannot believe in my 37 years of life, I never heard this story. Perhaps it's fate.
I do have two questions for you folks. Is there a final list of survivors that are still alive as of today? I notice the survivor book has names and addresses and phone numbers, but just how many are still with us? I'd love to send them all a card.
Second, I have posted a two or three pics below I dont have names for. Can you email me who they are? I also missed pics because of the crowd pusing through so I would like some more pics from the air show of the meet and greet if you have them.
Love to hear from others and family members of those lost. I want to hear your stories, too. My e-mail is TobyWagoner@gmail.com I hope to see you folks at a future gathering. I'm sure I'll have more questions by then.