Father of Five Died in Afghan Crash
T O N A W A N D A, N.Y., June 14 — The three Americans killed in a military plane crash this week included a patriotic father of five, an airplane enthusiast and a newlywed whose husband also served in Afghanistan.
Green Beret Master Sgt. Peter Tycz II of Tonawanda wrote his mother in an e-mail last fall: "I do what I do, not because I like it, but to ensure all of my family are safe from whatever treads on us."
Tycz, Air Force Staff Sgt. Anissa Ann Shero of Grafton, W.Va., and Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean M. Corlew of Thousand Oaks, Calif., were killed Wednesday when an Air Force MC-130H crashed and caught fire after taking off from an airstrip in Afghanistan. Seven others were injured.
Shero and Corlew were part of the 16th Special Operations Wing stationed at Hurlburt Field in Florida. Tycz was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Shero had married another serviceman in September. Nathan Shero recently returned from Afghanistan because the military didn't want both of them to serve overseas at once, her aunt said Thursday.
Shero, 31, grew up with military tradition. She enlisted in 1992 and was assigned to Hurlburt Field in July.
For as long as her family can remember, Shero wanted to travel the world. Short, strong and sassy, the dark-haired girl who became a staff sergeant in the Air Force just wasn't in a small-town frame of mind.
"She wanted to get out of Grafton. She wanted a big life," said Shelley Ball, Shero's cousin and lifelong friend. "She'd say, 'I want to get out of here.' And she did."
Her aunt, Glenda Knight, said Shero loved the service.
"Her grandfather was at the Battle of the Bulge. Her dad was in Vietnam and lost both legs," Knight said. "But they both survived."
When she saw reports of the crash on TV, she thought of her niece, who had been in Afghanistan for only two weeks.
"I thought, 'Oh, dear, that's the kind of plane Anissa's on.' But I tried to put it out of my mind," Knight said. "I keep hoping they'll call and say it was a mistake."
Corlew was fascinated with flying. He played with toy planes as a child and fueled airplanes at Los Angeles International Airport as a teen-ager, his father said. He joined the Air Force at 19.
"There were two things important to him: flying and his family," Richard Corlew said.
Corlew, 37, served in Panama and later in the Gulf War, his father said. He spent several months in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and returned to the United States earlier this year. He had only recently returned to Afghanistan, his father said.
"He really believed in why he was there. He volunteered for a lot of extra stuff, and he wanted to do the right thing," the elder Corlew said.
In between the tours, Corlew attended a family reunion, bringing his wife, Amy, and their children — Preston, 5, and Miranda, 1 — from their Florida home.
"It was a good time. We talked a lot," his father said. "It was good to see them all together. It's one of my last memories of him."
Tycz's wife, Tammy, and their five girls, ages 1 to 9, live in Raeford, N.C., where he was stationed. The 32-year-old soldier was raised in Tonawanda and joined the Army after high school.
His mother, Terry Harnden, said she was leaning on her pride in her son to withstand the sorrow.
"I can deal with my sorrow in my time and my speed and God will help me through that, but right now, I need to be proud," she said.
A memorial service at Hurlburt was being planned.
—The Associated Press
Sifting of Trade Center Debris Nears End
N E W Y O R K, June 14 — Gone are the 1,300 wrecked vehicles once stacked in rows, the heaps of broken concrete and twisted steel, the boxes of rings, watches, wallets and ID cards.
With perhaps six weeks left before it officially closes, the Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, once a 175-acre horrorscope of World Trade Center debris, is now nearly as empty as Ground Zero.
Only a few cranes moved trash and three conveyors sifted debris for human remains on Thursday, a sharp change from six months ago when site bustled with heavy-lift equipment and 1,000 or more workers.
Men who have spent almost every day since Sept. 11 sorting through refuse for human remains, personal property and criminal evidence speak with mixed feelings of a place once infamous as the world's largest dump.
Police Lt. Bruce Bovino said he has been deeply affected by grieving families visiting the barren, muddy hilltop 14 miles across the water from Manhattan.
"As a police officer you deal with the public all the time, but I've never dealt with so many innocent victims," he said.
Closed by the city in March 2001, Fresh Kills was reopened a day after terrorist hijackers slammed two jetliners into the trade center, bringing down the 110-story twin skyscrapers and killing more than 2,800 people.
Over the next eight months, up to 18,000 tons of debris a day were delivered by trucks and barges.
In the mountain of statistics left, perhaps none is as difficult to grasp as one cited by Police Inspector James Luongo — 1.8 million tons of refuse examined down to the last quarter-inch shred.
Many items simply vanished in the cataclysmic collapse.
"What's special to us is the things we don't see," Luongo said. "I've never seen a door, a phone, a chair, a desk, a computer. They're not here."
In the final weeks before the site is demobilized, large areas where debris was spread out and raked are being re-excavated, primarily for human remains.
"We are digging down to the level of household waste and running all that material through the sifter again. We want to make sure we haven't missed anything," Luongo said.
While few items have been recovered this way, the process could help counter any criticism that the Fresh Kills site was being closed prematurely.
Officials said that of 1,109 victims physically identified by the medical examiner's office, 167 came from 1,400 body parts recovered at Fresh Kills.
About five to 15 bits of human bone are still being found daily, said Police Sgt. Robert Fawcett.
Forensic experts in respirators man the conveyors, ready to stop the debris flow when they spot a bone shard or potentially important item.
Police notify victims' relatives of property recovered or remains identified. The city medical examiner has 20,000 pieces of remains in cold storage.
Luongo said 25 city, state and federal agencies have been involved at Fresh Kills — even the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which uses fireworks to keep thousands of seagulls and about 50 turkey vultures from scavenging the site.
The 1,300 vehicles wrecked in the attacks have been scrapped. Still at the site were a smashed yellow taxicab, two police cruisers and two NYPD emergency trucks, all destined for the city's police museum.
Firefighters retrieved panels and other items from many of the 60-plus wrecked fire engines, for memorials to their 343 colleagues killed Sept. 11.
FBI bomb expert Gerry Fornino said every vehicle was searched before being junked.
"The things we would clean out of our own cars on a Saturday morning and throw away — these are the things we now save for people," he said.
Museums including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., have visited looking for artifacts, Luongo said.
Pieces of bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin were sent back to their owner, the Cantor-Fitzerald brokerage.
Other than the flight recorders, which remain missing, pieces of the two Boeing 767s are of no value to investigators. "We know what happened," Luongo said. "We've seen it many times."
—The Associated Press
Sept. 11 Hasn’t Scared Off Hollywood
N E W Y O R K, June 14 — The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have apparently had little effect on filmmakers who want to make movies in New York City.
"New York never loses its luster, no matter where you set down your camera you get a good shot," said Julianne Cho, publicity director of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater & Broadcasting.
Comedies and crime dominate the summer shooting schedule, according to the office. Romantic comedies filming are The Chambermaid, with Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey.
Comedies include Analyze That, with Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, A Mighty Wind, with Christopher Guest, and Anger Management, starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson. Woody Allen also is slated to make a yet-to-be-titled new film.
Spike Lee will be shooting The 25th Hour, a crime drama with Edward Norton and Tobey Maquire. Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo will star in the crime-thriller In the Cut.
Dramas include Molly Gunn, with Brittany Murphy, about a socialite who takes a job as a nanny, and Angels in America, with Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, an HBO film adaptation of a play about gay life.
—The Associated Press
Senate Blocks Plan to Limit Suits Against Corporate Terror Victims
W A S H I N G T O N, June 14 — A presidential veto threat now hangs over Senate legislation designed to help cover the costs of insurance against future terrorist attacks.
Democrats blocked a GOP amendment to eliminate punitive damages in lawsuits against companies whose buildings are hit by terrorists.
"If we're serious about making a law and not simply playing legislative games, we ought to pass a bill that has some chance of being signed," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
President Bush is likely to veto the terrorism insurance bill if it gets out of Congress, Republicans said Thursday.
The White House also released a statement saying the Senate bill would be unacceptable without tort reform. "The administration cannot support enactment of any terrorism insurance bill that leaves the nation's economy and victims of terrorist acts subject to predatory lawsuits and punitive damages," the White House said.
Democrats didn't care. The Senate, by a 50-46 party-line vote, rejected the GOP amendment.
Republicans accused Democrats of trying to protect trial lawyers in an election year, but Democrats said Republicans were looking out for businesses that are major GOP donors.
Democrats said limiting punitive damages would only allow corporations to slack off on their security at the cost of their workers' lives.
"Without the threat of punitive damages, the corporation can decide it's more cost-effective to continue cutting corners despite the risk to American lives," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
States already have their own laws about punitive damages, Leahy said, and rewriting them "for the benefit of private industry at the expense of future terrorist victims and their families is not right."
After Sept. 11, many insurers limited or dropped coverage for casualty and property losses in acts of terrorism because insurance companies faced record payouts of $30 billion to $50 billion.
The House last year passed legislation under which the government would help insurers continue to offer terrorism insurance by agreeing to pick up, for at least one year, 90 percent of losses in any major attack.
Under the Senate bill, however, the insurance industry would have to pay $10 billion of insurance costs for terrorism attacks for two years. Beyond that level, the government would cover 90 percent of costs; the insurance industry would pay the remaining 10 percent.
The Treasury secretary would have discretion to extend the program for a third year, in which case the industry would be responsible for the first $20 billion in costs. There would be a $100 billion cap; the secretary would have to go to Congress if costs exceeded that amount.
The bill also would consolidate civil lawsuits in federal courts and bar the use of government money to pay punitive damage awards.
—The Associated Press