Tears and hugs shared at memorials held for pilots and flight attendants of doomed planes

Wednesday, September 19th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEWTOWN, Pa. (AP) _ He was quick with a joke and easy to talk to. He was a top-notch pilot and a family man. And while most of his counterparts toted golf bags on trips, Victor Saracini carried a guitar.

Friends and family wept, prayed and shared stories during a church service in this Philadelphia suburb Tuesday for the 51-year-old pilot of the second plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.

Tears for Saracini, who worked for United Airlines, were echoed across the nation in services for other pilots and flight attendants killed during the Sept. 11 terrorist assaults on America.

``It's been a numb week. Everyone's just stunned,'' said Ken Roberts, 59, a United Airlines pilot from Brandywine, N.J., who flew as co-pilot with Saracini several times. ``When you think about the grief here and multiply it by 5,000 it's kind of hard to imagine.''

In Greensboro, N.C., a flight attendant killed in the Pennsylvania crash was remembered Tuesday as a heroine, a charismatic woman and a loving mother.

Dozens of United Airlines pilots and flight attendants attended the service for Sandy Bradshaw, 38. There was no casket. A table at the front of the sanctuary of Westminster Presbyterian Church bore a photograph of Bradshaw, a single white rose and an unlit candle.

In Washington, a standing-room-only crowd filled Saint Matthew's Cathedral for a memorial Mass for David Charlebois, 39, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon.

About 1,000 people, including several hundred American Airlines pilots and flight attendants, packed the church Charlebois used to attend to celebrate his life and comfort each other.

``He was a very sociable person who loved being surrounded by people,'' said friend Tom Hayes. ``The only time he lost patience was when dealing with bigotry, ignorance or hatred.''

At Saracini's service, an ocean of blue uniforms _ pilots from United and other airlines _ filled about a quarter of the 1,200-seat St. Andrew's Roman Catholic Church.

``Airlines are part of an extended family. It's kind of like when a policemen gets killed,'' said Mike Anderson, a 52-year-old United pilot who attended the service.

Two montages of photographs stood at the front of the church on either side of a pilot's uniform. A guitar leaned nearby. The service consisted of prayers, words from friends and the memories of family.

``The last words my dad said to me were, 'If you don't turn off the DVD player, you owe me $10.' That, of course, was followed by, 'I love you and goodnight,''' Saracini's 13-year-old daughter Kirsten told the congregants.

Meanwhile, about 350 people gathered in the sanctuary of the historic stone Church of St. Patrick in downtown Washington for a memorial Mass honoring law enforcement officers and firefighters lost in New York and at the Pentagon.

``They laid down their lives so others might live,'' said Monsignor Sal Criscuolo, chaplain for the District of Columbia police. ``We were shown tragedy last Tuesday, and we were shown so many heroes.''