Whitesburg KY

Hijacked to Cuba

I’m sitting at my desk at the Pentagon in 1971, thinking about putting in for my Air Force retirement. The talk about peace in Vietnam was still going on. The protesters were still near the Pentagon. I was very unhappy working somewhat out of my career as a printer. We had printing equipment, but I saw very little of that department as I was in charge of most of the left wing in the Pentagon.

Later, on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorists would fly American Airlines Flight 77 into the west side of our wing. A lot of damage was done and people were killed.

A top-secret report came across my desk. We had a Delta Airlines plan hijacked to Cuba. I read the report. The pilot was Dick Blizzard. I was to get in touch with the FBI and FAA. I then read that the pilot’s hometown was Jenkins, Kentucky. I almost fell out of my chair.

The people I had called were standing in front of my desk almost before I hung up the phone. I gave them the report.

I did not know Dick Blizzard at the time, but I knew his dad and his uncle lived next door to us on Main Street, Jenkins. Johnny Blizzard was my next-door buddy for life. We went to Jenkins School together, and I pulled him in my little red wagon. We then moved to Camden, and the Blizzards moved two doors from us.

My son-in-law, Richard Alderete, after he got out of the Air Force, worked for Delta Airlines until he retired at Park City, Utah, but knew very little of Dick Blizzard. Richard worked in the main office.

I later heard the hijacker was in jail in Cuba five years, and would spend 30 years in a U.S.A. prison.

I’m very glad Dick Blizzard and the other people were not hurt.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in Fairfield, Calif.)

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