Local victims of 9/11 have not been forgotten
What seemed like a normal day for former area residents ended tragically and changed the lives of their families forever. They were on two of the planes that were taken over by terrorists and crashed into the World Trade Center's Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Ten years later, the families are trying to put the pieces of their lives together and explain to their young children what happened. Although the families chose not to share their stories as the anniversary nears, the lives of Brian Dale, David Kovalcin and John Yamnicky are not forgotten.
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Forty-one-year-old Brian Paul Dale was among 81 passengers and 11 crew members on American Airlines Flight 11. He was on his way from Boston to Los Angeles when the plane was crashed into the World Trade Center. He had missed an earlier flight to the West Coast after a business trip; he rescheduled and had a seat aboard the doomed plane.
Born Oct. 23, 1957, Dale was the son of Mary Steimer Dale and the late Earl Dale and grew up in North Huntingdon Township. He was a student at Immaculate Conception School in Irwin and a 1976 graduate of Norwin High School where he was his valedictorian. He graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College in 1980, where he earned the nickname "Hulk" playing tight end for the football team. In 1981 he received an MBA from Dartmouth's Amos Tucki School of Business. Ten years later he received his juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan.
Prior to co-founding Blue Capital Management LLC, a New York City-based investment firm, he worked for the Kirkpatrick and Lockhart law firm in Pittsburgh and was a former certified public accountant with Price Waterhouse in Pittsburgh, Washington and New York.
Dale and his family lived in Warren, N.J., 10 years ago, but his wife Louanne Baily and their children returned to her hometown of Mt. Lebanon. They were married in November 1996 and have three children Jacob Earl, who was 3 at the time, and 1-year-old twins Russell and Rachel.
His wife and children aren't the only ones impacted by his death. So were his siblings Kevin Dale, who at the time was a commander in the U.S. Coast Guard in Norfolk, Va., and Lauren Dale Rice as well as his other relatives. The family had a chance to be together that year when Dale was home in July for a 25th class reunion, and in August spent time vacationing with his family for two weeks in the Adirondacks.
Former classmates shared their memories of Dale at www.9-11heroes.us. Tom Krivda, who graduated with him, said he was "one of the most respected and nice people in our graduating class, truly a leader."
He said that after the class reunion, some folks got together for breakfast where he "got a chance to meet Brian and his two young twin children. He was just starting to raise his family and was very proud and happy. It's sad that he was gone three months later. But I am thankful that I knew him."
Kevin T. Park graduated with Dale, and although he never knew him well, he said he "always respected his significant accomplishments in sports, academically, in business and his family life that was tragically cut short ... America lost someone of significance when it lost Brian Dale that day!"
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A senior mechanical engineer for Raytheon, David Kovalcin, 42, was on his way to the West Coast for a business trip when he boarded American Airlines Flight 11 in Boston. He had left a note for Elizabeth, his wife of five years, and their daughters Rebecca, 4, and Marina, 1, telling them how much he would miss them while he was away and that he would see them Friday evening at home in Hudson, N.H.
Born July 25, 1959, he was the youngest of three boys his brothers are Ed and Duane of parents Edward and Joanne. After his mother died when he was 18, his brothers and sister-in-law watched over their younger sibling. His father died three years later. He always had the feeling that he would die at a young age and leave behind his family.
After graduating from Norwin High School, where he was involved with sports, loved music and played the electric guitar, he attended Penn State University, where he earned a bachelor's and master's degree in engineering. After graduating, he moved to Boston to take a job with Digital Equipment Corp.
Kovalcin and his brothers shared a special bond that remained strong even after he moved. His brothers visited him three weeks before he took that ill-fated flight, a visit that prompted the final photo of the three siblings together.
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During his service as a Navy test pilot in Korea and Vietnam, John D. Yamnicky Sr. walked away from five crash landings. But he didn't walk away when the American Airlines Flight 77 he boarded en route to Los Angeles crashed into the Pentagon.
He was on a business trip for his work as a defense contractor with Veridian Engineering Corp.
Born June 8, 1930, he was a receiver for the McKeesport Tigers' state championship football team, which also played in the Scholastic Orange Bowl on Christmas Day in 1947.
He also played basketball and was a member of the school's championship 800-yard relay squad in track. He was accepted at several colleges and universities on scholarships for academics and athletics, but opted for the Naval Academy, which marked the start of a 53-year career.
After graduating from the academy in 1952, he served in several capacities in Korea, including amphibious assault wave leader for the landings at Inchon.
A year later he began flight school and on Jan. 26, 1955, received his wings and was assigned to Utility Squadron 10 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He entered the Navy's Test Pilot School and graduated in 1961.
He was inducted into the Society of Experimental Test Pilots for his work in determining acceptable minimum airspeed for the A-4 aircraft after a catapult launch from an aircraft carrier.
He also participated in the first days of retaliatory airstrikes on North Vietnam, served as director of the Test Pilot School, and worked on the development of the F/A-18 fighter jet.
Yamnicky and his wife Janet were married Dec. 23, 1959, and they have four children John David, Lorraine, Mark and Jennifer and many grandchildren.
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