Norwin to honor graduates killed in 9/11 attacks
Two Norwin graduates who were on a hijacked American Airlines plane that terrorists crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11 have not been forgotten.
On Saturday , Brian Dale and David Kovalcin will be honored when a plaque inscribed with their names is placed on a bench at the Norwin High School Veterans Memorial. Dale graduated from Norwin in 1976, Kovalcin in 1977.
The ceremony, sponsored by the Norwin Junior Air Force ROTC, will begin at 9 a.m. The memorial is adjacent to the high school at 251 McMahon Drive, North Huntingdon.
During a visit to Ground Zero in April, ROTC cadets viewed the men’s names inscribed in bronze on parapets at the 9/11 Memorial’s North Pool, said Timothy Conley, Norwin Junior Air Force ROTC adviser. Dale and Kovalcin were among the 81 passengers and 11 crew members aboard American Airlines Flight 11, headed from Boston to Los Angeles, who perished when the airliner crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower.
The plaque, which cost about $300, was paid for through fundraisers the ROTC cadets conducted, Conley said.
The Norwin High veterans memorial is dedicated to local soldiers killed in combat since Norwin was formed in 1958. The 20-foot-tall pentagon-shaped monument was dedicated in 2015.
“We felt that these two students shouldn’t be forgotten, either. Because they were the first defenders of freedom on the global war on terrorism,” Conley said. “We decided the best way to do that would be to place a memorial plaque near the veterans memorial.”
Dale lived in Warren, N.J., with his wife, Louanne, and their three young children — Jacob, who was 3 on Sept. 11, 2001, and 1-year-old twins Rachel and Russell. He was the co-founder of Blue Capital Management, a New York investment firm.
Dale, 43, grew up in North Huntingdon and was the valedictorian of his graduating class. He graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College, where he played tight end for the football team. He earned his MBA from Dartmouth and his law degree from the University of Michigan in 1991. He had worked for the Pittsburgh law firm Kirkpatrick and Lockhardt before starting Blue Capital.
“It’s lovely that something like this is being done in North Huntingdon,” said his younger sister, Lauren Dale Rice of Pittsburgh. “The community was so foundational to our family, and Brian in particular.”
It will be meaningful for his children, who were so young when Brian died, Rice said.
“It’s especially nice for them to know that people are doing something in their father’s name,” said Rice, who plans to attend the ceremony with her mother, Mary, and other members of their family.
Rice said he was on the flight from Boston, a city he did not typically go to for business. He was booked on a flight to California on Sept. 10, but storms in Denver forced the cancellation of the last leg of that flight, so he opted to stay that night in Boston and go the following morning.
Kovalcin, 42, was a senior mechanical engineer with Raytheon. He was en route from his home in Hudson, N.H., to the West Coast for a business trip, according to a story originally published in 2002 in The Telegraph, a paper in Nashua, N.H. He left a note for his wife, Elizabeth, their two girls, Rebecca, 4, and Marina, 1, saying he would miss them before he returned that Friday.
Kovalcin, who had two brothers, Ed of Manor and Duane of Youngwood, was involved in sports at Norwin. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering at Penn State University. After graduation, he got a job in Boston.
“It is so nice that they remember him because he moved away after he left high school,” said Lisa Kovalcin, the wife of Ed Kovalcin.
She described David as an “easy- going” guy. David had a lot of friends from high school who still keep in touch with the family, Kovalcin said.
Lisa Kovalcin said she was not sure if David and Brian knew each other in high school. The family does not know if Brian and David saw each other possibly while boarding, or once on the plane.
North Huntingdon had remembered both victims of the terrorist attacks in the planting of trees at the North Huntingdon Veterans Memorial at the North Huntingdon Township building. Lisa Kovalcin’s father, retired Norwin teacher Don Kattic, was instrumental in getting the memorial built.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .