Area reactions after attack on United States
As the fallout of information from Tuesday’s twisted terrorist attack on America rippled through the country’s heartland yesterday via radio, television and the Internet, the deepest intensity of pain for fellow American citizens injured or killed was no less experienced by Glacier County residents.
Under gray skies and cool temperatures, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 6104 and American Legion Post 40 hung our nation’s symbol, our flag, throughout Cut Bank as a somber reminder of the morning’s execution of what has become the most serious attack on U.S. soil in history.
As of press time, national authorities still couldn’t pinpoint who had masterminded the Kamikaze mid-morning attacks of the New York World Trade Center’s twin towers and the Pentagon-brandishing hijacked commercial airlines owned by American Airlines and United Airlines.
While a fourth commercial airline crashed in central Pennsylvania field about the same time, reports were still fuzzy late yesterday afternoon regarding the whereabouts of a fifth commercial airline.
Glacier County Disaster and Emergency Services (DES) director Jim King was busy keeping in contact with various agencies and state DES director Ed Gehrke. At 11:30 a.m., the Montana-Canadian borders at Port of Piegan and Del Bonita were still open, but there were rumblings through telephone communications they would be closing soon.
At 2:30 p.m., Border Patrol Deputy Chief Ted Denning of Havre reported to the Cut Bank Pioneer Press that borders were still open. “There is really nothing that we’re saying. All I can tell you is that we are at a heightened level of security,” said Denning. He also said CNN’s earlier report of the Mexican border being closed was inaccurate. That border, as well, is open with a heightened level of security, he said.
Cut Bank Municipal Airport operator Galen Galbreath reported the FAA command center advised Great Falls at 9 a.m. Tuesday that all air travel throughout the U.S. with the exception of medical emergency flights and military law enforcement flights, were suspended. “Shortly after, they included all air firefighting operations as being suspended,” said Galbreath. Even the daily UPS plane from Billings usually here around 8:45 a.m., had not arrived.
The fire alarm sounding around 11 a.m. perhaps drew more attention than usual. But the small spot fires east of town were put out by the time the Cut Bank Volunteer Fire Department arrived shortly after they were reported.
Gus Malonas at Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s Seattle corporate relations department acknowledged BNSF “inspected many parts of our system-bridges, tunnels and signal systems-and determined our rail system was safe.” He also stated Amtrak trains had been stopped and inspected, but all trains are on the move.
Not only were residents glued to their televisions as the morning’s events and rescues unfolded, but so were most of the classes at Cut Bank High School. Cut Bank School District No. 15 Superintendent Dennis Roseleip reported he did not see a need to close the schools. “Our schools are safe. With the technology we have, our students are watching history unfold,” said Roseleip.
While Postmaster Bruce Moog reported he had no directive to close the post office early for the day, most of the 16 employees at the Glacier County Natural Resource and Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA), located at the Northern Village Shopping Center, took administrative leave at 11:30 a.m.
On the Blackfeet Reservation, Donna Yellow Owl reported Blackfeet Tribal Business Council chairman Earl Old Person, secretary Gordon Monroe, councilmen Leo Kennerly, Ervin Carlson and Hugh Monroe, Blackfeet Chief of Police and DES director Mark Keller and officer Carl Old Person, were fine in Washington, D.C. The delegation had arrived in Washington Monday for meetings and were at the Interior Building at the time the Pentagon was hit by the third plane. Although they were scheduled to fly back today, Sept. 12, they are now unsure when they will be able to return. “They reassured us they are okay, just fine,” said Yellow Owl, an administrative assistant to vice chairman Darryl Horn.
Cut Bank Youth Group assembling care packages for Adam Larson’s kids
“For 10 years, USA Weekend Magazine has sponsored a national day of volunteer action, Make a Difference Day. This year, on Oct. 27, we ask you to participate to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on our nation…”
Youth in grades 4-12 of St. Margaret Catholic Church are accepting USA Weekend’s plea and will be preparing a “Cut Bank Cares” package for the two children of the late John Adam Larson. A 1982 graduate of Cut Bank High School, Larson, 37 would have celebrated his 20th class reunion this summer. He was one of the thousands of men and women who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York.
According to family members, Larson called his wife, Patti, on his cell phone to say that his building was being evacuated just after the plane hit the first tower. Coworkers later told Patti that they walked from the 103rd floor to an elevator on the 78th floor. There, two women, Larson’s secretary and an older woman refused to get on the elevator. He told his companions to go ahead, that he would walk down with the women. The co-workers survived, but Larson and the two women did not make it out.
“Youth ministering to youth is one of the goals of our youth group,” said project leader LeAnne Kavanagh. “Since Adam’s children will probably never make it back here to see where their father grew up and went to high school, we thought we could send a little bit of Cut Bank to them.”
On Wednesday, Oct. 24, the students in grades 4-12 of St. Margaret’s religious education program will gather in the social center of the church and put together their “Cut Bank Cares” package - actually two packages - one for Kelly Larson, 9, and one for her brother, Joey, 6.
“The Cut Bank Chamber of Commerce has generously given us Cut Bank t-shirts, two ‘Cool it in Cut Bank’ bumper stickers and two Cut Bank pins. The Cut Bank Schools are loaning out their annuals for the years Adam attended high school here and we’ll scan as many pictures of him as we can to include in scrapbooks we’ll assemble for this daughter Kelly, and his son, Joey,” said Kavanagh. “The school has also given us calendars and pens to include in our mailing to the Larson children.”
Local businesses are invited to drop off any “freebie” items they have, sporting the name of their business or Cut Bank, to be included in the care package. The Cut Bank Pioneer Press has donated personalized purple frisbees while Stockman Bank has given two piggy banks for the cause. In the coming weeks, members of St. Margaret’s Youth group will be buzzing around town taking pictures of landmarks, such as the schools, churches, businesses, parks, pool, sports complex, museum, and, of course, the 27-foot penguin, to help introduce Cut Bank to the Larson children.
1982 CBHS graduate listed as missing in terrorist attack
Twenty years ago, John Adam Larson was a senior at Cut Bank High School. Today, he is listed among the missing after last week’s horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan New York.
A 1982 graduate of Cut Bank High School, Larson is married and lives in Colonial, New Jersey. He and his wife Patti, have two young children. He is a senior vice president at Anon, Inc. an insurance brokerage firm which operated on six floors of the south tower, including the 103rd floor where Larson’s office was.
According to information provided to the Cut Bank Pioneer Press by Choteau Acantha editor Melody Martinson, Larson called his wife and spoke with her just after the plane crashed into the building. Initially Anon, Inc., officials believed Larson had escaped from the building, but later they listed him among their missing employees.
Larson is the son of federal meat inspector Leroy Larson, who now lives in Choteau. His mother, Joan, was a former teacher in the rural schools while they lived in Cut Bank. She died two years ago. Larson goes by his middle name, Adam, and is the youngest of the family’s four children.
While in high school, Larson competed in cross-country and was a member of the 1981 team that finished fifth at the state meet. He was also a Boys State Delegate, a member of the National Honor Society and Photo Club and ranked 11th in his class, academically.
According to Leroy’s niece, Margaret Larson, also of Choteau, the family is still hoping and praying for good news but are resolving themselves to the fact that news may not be forthcoming.
Cut Bank High School Athletic Director Don Paulson said school officials will hold a moment of silence in Larson’s honor during Thursday night’s girls’ basketball game against Simms.
The CBHS Class of 2003 will be selling 50/50 tickets during the ballgames that night with the proceeds going to benefit the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.