Chief Zimmerman Speech:
On behalf of the members and responders of the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Company, the Walkersville Volunteer Rescue Company, and the Community of Walkersville, we are so grateful and appreciative of this Memorial at this location.
The First Responders from Walkersville, Woodsboro and Libertytown Volunteer Fire and Rescue Companies on that day of May 6, 1981 and at the time of 1050 hours, did not know what type of plane had crashed or the number of crew members that were on board until after we arrived on the scene and we had started our search and rescue operations.
However, as we entered that barley field, we quickly determined that it was not a small plane with a few people. After a time we were notified that it was an EC-135N plane with twenty-one people on board, did we realize the nightmare that we were experiencing.
After hours of searching the fields and marking the locations of the bodies, we were able to identify sixteen of the twenty-one and we had the knowledge that the other five were most likely buried in a crater with the cockpit.
This searching involved members of all fire companies on the scene plus we used members of the community who had walked down the railroad tracks to the site. We lined up across the entire field and walked in unison until someone spotted something important to be marked or sheeted. We even did this exercise twice to be sure that we had located everything.
Obviously we saw things that nobody wants to see or witness. But these sights were not shared with anyone for publication. This was between the first responders and the unfortunate victims.
We are trained to be ready for any emergency situation but what we seen that day stunned us all.
We reacted to this challenge by immediately restoring dignity and respect to those crew members. We treated them the same way that we would have wanted to be treated if the roles were reversed.
You could not help to ask why that the end had to come this way. But it is not within our power to judge when or how the end will come.
I was very proud of our first responders and the way they performed their duties. When the Air Force arrived hours later to begin their investigation, they indicated to me their appreciation for a job well done. About a week and half later, the first responders were welcomed back to the site where they had re-assembled the plane as best as they could with the remaining pieces right there in the field.
As we stand here near the crash site, it does not take much to imagine what could have happened. Just a short distance away in either direction of this crash site could have caused so much more damage and possible more injuries or loss of life. We are forever thankful that the final resting place was in an innocent barley field.
I believe that I can speak for all of the First Responders that this Monument and Memorial will help us to heal our souls and bring about another step in our closure. We want to thank the Alumni, Family, and Friends of AGAR 23 for providing this opportunity. We will also look forward to meeting with you each May 6th for years to come to commemorate this anniversary.
Thank You and God Bless.