Monday, February 25, 2013

The Man who Went Back



Few people would have done this. 

January 13, 1982 was the day when an Air Florida plane crashed into the frozen Potomac River on the edge of Washington D.C.  The water was 31 degrees F., one degree below freezing.  Massive ice flows and slushy water paralyzed most of the passengers, resulting in a loss of 74 passenger lives.  Four other people on the overhanging bridge also were killed.

Six people were still alive and clinging to the tail section of the plane, the only part above water.

Six people, but only five were rescued.  One man, Arland D. Williams, Jr., age 46, did not survive.

Why not?  Each time the life line with a float was lowered, Mr. Williams passed the ring onto someone else.  He swam to one woman whose arms could no longer hold onto the ring and secured her in the device.

Five times Arland Williams, Jr., passed the ring to other passengers, helping them to be pulled to safety.  When the ring was lowered a sixth time, Mr. Williams had disappeared into the icy water.


Crash on the Potomac, 1982






He was the man who went back. 

31 comments:

  1. One moment, one unselfish decision-this is what makes a hero.

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    1. His decision allowed 5 people to live full lives. He was a true hero.

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  2. Few and far between are those who could be so selfless and so brave.

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    1. This made me question if I or anyone I know would do this? He was the right man in the right place.

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  3. One brave and selfless guy for sure.

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  4. Dear Susan, this is heartbreaking as well as magnificent. I"m wondering if a movie was made of this. Do you know? If so, what was the title?

    Arland Williams, Jr., was so courageous and he must live on not only in the hearts of his family but in those he saved so generously.....he gave his life. Peace.

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    1. This happened in 1982. A 'television mini-movie' might have been produced, but I don't know.

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  5. A good man. We never know until we're tested.

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  6. I have a lump in my throat. May we all find the courage
    Lx

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    1. I still choke up when I review the grainy video.

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  7. I remember that so vividly. This man, testimony to the selfless spirit of thinking of others first. The true meaning of hero.

    Peace and kind wishes,

    Gary

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    1. He and his actions demonstrate heroism in it truest form.

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  8. I think that the word hero is misused often (describing sports' stars that way leaps to mind). And it brings on a hissy fit each time. This man exemplifies heroism. Wouldn't it be nice to be confident we could behave as well...

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    1. Just think: Mr. Williams got up that morning with a day's agenda on his mind. The plane crash wiped all that away, leaving him to plunge in icy water by choice. I pray I would be so brave...

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  9. Wow. That truly defines the word "hero".

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  10. I had not heard this story before. I am constantly amazed by the everyday heroes out there.

    ~Jen

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    1. Most heroes of that kind are the unsung ones, whose sacrifices are made and never come to light.

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  11. This is so perfectly written--so powerful. It gave me chills.

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    1. Thanks, Elisa. This event of 32 years ago still stands out in memories.

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  12. What a wonderful legacy he has left behind!

    Pearl

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    1. This horrific tragedy needs to be remembered, if only to remind those who follow behind that one brave person made a difference in the lives of those 5 people.

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  13. I agree with everyone that he was a true hero. It's so sad that he lost his own life.

    Julie

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  14. You always hear about the mobs that stampede in panic situations, trampling their fellows to death. It's heartening to hear about real heroes like this gentleman.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!