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Night Stalker shares story for National 9-11 Museum

 

Written by Kimberly Tiscione
160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Public Affairs

Fort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division160th Soar - Night StalkersNew York, NY – A new national museum will feature artifacts that relate personal stories connected to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Among the artifacts that will be on display in the National September 11 Museum are a pair of American Airlines flight attendant wings.

The wings honor Sara Low’s memory. She was working on American Airlines Flight 11 that was hijacked and used in the terrorist attacks on New York City.

Karen's Wings will be displayed with a book prepared by Mike Low documenting the history of the wings in memory of his daughter, Sara. (Photo by Kimberly Tiscione, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Public Affairs)

Karen's Wings will be displayed with a book prepared by Mike Low documenting the history of the wings in memory of his daughter, Sara. (Photo by Kimberly Tiscione, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Public Affairs)

Sara’s roommate, Karyn, gave her own American Airlines flight attendant wings to Mike Low, Sarah’s father. The wings became incredibly symbolic of Mike’s love and pride for his daughter and her career. 

With Mike’s determination to honor Sara’s memory, the wings would fly further – to the front lines of combat in Afghanistan with the U.S. military.

Army 1st Sgt. Mark Baker of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment made that request reality for the Low family. He recently shared his portion of this story for an oral history that will accompany an exhibit in the Freedom and Security section of the museum.

Baker, a staff sergeant at the time, was already deployed to Afghanistan in October 2001. He happened to be in a meeting and heard the story of these wings.

“After a mission brief, the task force public affairs officer read a letter from Mike Low, which explained his desire for Karen’s wings to be worn in combat.  Afterwards, she asked if anyone would volunteer to wear the wings and I volunteered,” he explained. “I wanted to honor the love between a father and his daughter.”

1st Sgt. Mark Baker looks at “Karen’s Wings” for the first time since they were returned to Mike Low in 2002. Baker provided an oral history interview about the wings to Jenny Pachucki (center), oral historian for exhibitions, National September 11th Memorial and Museum. (Kimberly Tiscione)

1st Sgt. Mark Baker looks at “Karen’s Wings” for the first time since they were returned to Mike Low in 2002. Baker provided an oral history interview about the wings to Jenny Pachucki (center), oral historian for exhibitions, National September 11th Memorial and Museum. (Kimberly Tiscione)

He wore the wings on his uniform during 20 missions, totaling more than 100 helicopter flight hours conducting combat and re-supply missions across Afghanistan.

The wings never left Baker’s side and even became part of a pre-mission ritual for his helicopter crew. A crew mate would pin the wings on Baker’s uniform and the whole crew would rub the wings for good luck before they left on a mission.

On May 21st, 2002, Night Stalkers presented the wings back to Mike in a ceremony held at Fort Campbell, KY.

Baker said knowing the wings will be on display makes him proud. 

“I am proud to have worn the wings, of my involvement in the War on Terror, of all the men and women who fight to protect our freedom, and of the way America prevails when faced with adversity,” he reflected.  “The wings being on display bring closure while declaring, ‘we will not forget’.”

The National September 11 Memorial and Museum will honor those killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001 and February 26th, 1993. The memorial will display the names of those who perished in both attacks while the museum will display monumental artifacts from the events of 2001 while presenting intimate stories of loss, compassion, reckoning and recovery. 

“These wings are one of the most valued possessions in the collection,” said Jenny Pachucki, oral historian for exhibitions, National September 11 Memorial and Museum. “We are thrilled to have someone put a voice to this story.”

The memorial portion will open later this year near the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks and the museum is scheduled to open in 2012.


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