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Air traffic controller who was working on 9/11 shares story

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: Oct 17 2012 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 18 2012 05:18:11 AM CDT

It's a scene we will never forget the wreckage of Flight 93 still smoldering in a Shanksville field.

KUTZTOWN, Pa. -

It's a scene we will never forget:  the wreckage of Flight 93 still smoldering in a Shanksville field.

An air traffic controller who was on duty that fateful day shared his story and the story of those 40 heroes Wednesday night with students at Kutztown University.

Mal Fuller retired on September 30, 2001, just weeks after he experienced 9/11. He was in Pittsburgh working in the air traffic control tower.

"I was wondering if I'd ever see my wife and kids again," said Fuller.

He said after learning about the planes that hit the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, he saw another plane.

"When we saw it on our radar screens, it was headed directly for the center of the airport, which is where the control tower and radar room are," said Fuller.

He evacuated the control tower and later learned the hijacked plane that went down in Shanksville was the plane he thought was headed straight for him.

"When they flew through the Pittsburgh radar area the let's roll call, the flight attendants filling their pitchers with hot water, the people calling their families to say goodbye all happened within the scope of the Pittsburgh radar coverage," said Fuller, "And unfortunately we couldn't do a thing for them."

It's that feeling that motivates him to speak about Shanksville and the people who died there.

"Those 40 ordinary people who sat down as strangers, stood up as one and looked evil in the eye and they stopped it," said Fuller.

The audience was filled with future elementary school teachers at Kutztown University, who were in elementary school when 9-11 happened.

"I didn't completely understand the significance as much as I do now," said Josh Dietz, a senior.

"It was more focused not on the negative that it was an attack but on the positive that these people were heroes and that they were trying to do something right," said Macy Deskiewicz, a sophomore.

Fuller said it's their job to remember.