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The hijacking of one of our planes


After my three-year tour in Germany, my new job was in charge of the 2044th Communication Department, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

The United States was in Paris trying to work out a peace plan with Vietnam. Things were not going well. All messages from all over the world came into our department. Most were classified.

I had been working at the Pentagon three months and four days when on February 4, 1971, a hot message came in. A Delta Airlines DC-9 from Chicago to Nashville was being hijacked to Cuba by a man with a bomb. I may have been the first person in the U.S. to see this message.

I hand carried this message to our printing department and had copies made for all our governmental agencies, and sent them out as soon as possible.

I later learned the pilot, Richard Blizzard, was from Jenkins and was a graduate of the high school in 1952. I went to school with his sister. My son-in-law, Richard Aldereta, had worked with him at many airports in the U.S. over many years.

I’m very glad all passengers and crew were returned to the U.S. safely.

(Contributing writer Everett Vanover lives in California.)

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