DFW AIRPORT — It's a day many North Texans will never forget. On August 31, 1988, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 727 crashed as it was taking off from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.
Fourteen people were killed but 93 others survived. On the 25th anniversary of that horrific crash, two men who witnessed history went back to where it all happened.
Jerry Don Galloway was on that Flight 1141. He was just 26 years old and on his way to a rodeo in Nevada.
"It sounded like a piece of tin dragging across the concrete. You could hear it tearing up, and by the time it stopped moving, it was completely full of smoke," Galloway said Saturday while attending a dedication for a new memorial to the victims and first responders at the airport.
Twenty five years later, the sound of that disaster still rings in his ears. It has stuck with him far longer than what he saw.
"When the airplane broke in half, I was looking straight out the hole,” he said.
First responders from the airport and surrounding cities swarmed the scene in the moments just after that.
Jeff Giraud was one of those first responders. He said he has been haunted by the people who died.
"They need to be remembered." Giraud said.
The will be, with a memorial marker at the Founder's Plaza Observation Park on the northwest edge of the airport property.
Over the years, the victims, survivors and first responders have been honored in a very real and meaningful way — through research that has helped improve flight crash response times and techniques.
"Flight 1141 also turned on the head the old notion that an aircraft accident was not survivable," said Jim Crites, executive vice president of operations at DFW Airport. "DFW's first responders saw how many people they saved, yet the team wondered what more could have been done to save the lives of those who didn’t survive."
A world class fire training center was created. Giraud taught there, even while fighting post-traumatic stress syndrome and stubborn regrets.
"For the longest time, I had a frame of mind for the things we didn't do right, and that's how I taught. That's how I researched." he said.
Today though, he sees the memorial and survivors and instead focuses on everything he and so many others did right on that August day in 1988.