Special memories from East Texans on shuttle anniversary - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Special memories from East Texans on shuttle anniversary

Posted: Updated:
EAST TEXAS (KYTX) -

10 years ago today, the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded and broke apart over East Texas.

People from all over the region remember the tragedy, and some even have mementos that remind them of the disaster. 

A signed and autographed photo of Astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who was killed in the Columbia explosion belongs an East Texas woman who met Chawla when she was in school years ago.

She and other East Texans tell me what the 10 year anniversary means to them.

Coretta Williams glances down at a piece of paper that - today - represents tragedy."

It says for Coretta and Johnna, who is my sister, Follow your dreams. Kalpana Chawla," Williams said.

Chawla, a fallen visionary, one of seven astronauts killed in the Columbia shuttle explosion 10 years ago.

The February 1st anniversary brings a nightmare back to life in East Texas, where 80 percent of the Shuttle Columbia was recovered.

"Feb 1 is a day in history that I'll never forget. I remember standing in a friend of mine's back yard, actually watching Columbia streak across the sky.

Pieces of the shuttle rained down across Nacogdoches County.

Susan Kennedy was the Nacogdoches County judge at the time -- meaning she was in charge of the response team.

"It's county judge's responsibility to be the emergency management director in those kinds of situations," she said.

So while the rest of the world erupted in chaos -- Kennedy kept calm and followed protocol.

"I found myself immediately going into that emergency command mode," she said.

She spent 18 to 20 hours organizing crews to collect shuttle debris and the remains of the astronauts.

It wasn't until she got home around midnight that night - that reality sunk in.

"For me it became emotional that night. I had a moment to think about the astronauts and their lives and their families," Kennedy said.

She says those feelings are still there, even 10 years later.

"It still impacts me very emotionally. because I know now this is all back in front of the families again," she said.

And back in front of so many East Texans who saw the tragedy unfold right before their eyes.

Kennedy says the experience changed her life.

She still has a special bond with those who helped in the recovery effort.

Kennedy led the debris recovery effort for two weeks. On February 14, a federal and state level group took over, and were here in East Texas for several more weeks.

 

A memorial ceremony was held today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

 

  • Local NewsMore>>

  • Jacksonville Communications Officer Killed in One Vehicle Crash

    Jacksonville Communications Officer Killed in One Vehicle Crash

    Monday, April 14 2014 11:31 PM EDT2014-04-15 03:31:53 GMT
    SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) -- DPS says a woman is dead after a crash Monday afternoon.  It happened just before 2:00 p.m. at the intersection of Mixon Road and Yarborough Lane in Smith County.  At this pointMore >>
    A Jacksonville Police communications officer has died after a crash Monday afternoon.
    More >>
  • Family remembers Fort Hood shooting victim with Illinois ties

    Family remembers Fort Hood shooting victim with Illinois ties

    Thursday, April 3 2014 10:35 PM EDT2014-04-04 02:35:25 GMT
    EFFINGHAM (WCIA)  -- One of the victims in a deadly shooting in Fort Hood went to school in central Illinois. Family members say 37-year-old Army Sergeant Tim Owens went to Southside Elementary in Effingham.  Owens'More >>
    One of the victims in a deadly shooting in Fort Hood went to school in central Illinois. Family members say 37-year-old Army Sergeant Tim Owens went to Southside Elementary in Effingham.More >>
  • Hallsville Student Finds Used Needle on School's Playground

    Hallsville Student Finds Used Needle on School's Playground

    Saturday, April 19 2014 7:43 PM EDT2014-04-19 23:43:25 GMT
    HALLSVILLE (KYTX) - A situation to make any parent worry. Pamela Kelly says her 4 year old son came home from school recently with a hole in his hand. Tyler Kelly goes to Pre-K here, at the Little Cats Learning Center in Hallsville. Kelly says since coming forward with this news,she has received thanks from other parents."They have been extremely thankful. So they can be more proactivand morere on the look out." - Pamela Kelly, Tyler'Mom Thehe school made this statement to CBS 19 via email. T...More >>
    HALLSVILLE (KYTX) - A situation to make any parent worry. Pamela Kelly says her 4 year old son came home from school recently with a hole in his hand. Tyler Kelly goes to Pre-K here, at the Little Cats Learning Center in Hallsville. Kelly says since coming forward with this news,she has received thanks from other parents."They have been extremely thankful. So they can be more proactivand morere on the look out." - Pamela Kelly, Tyler'Mom Thehe school made this statement to CBS 19 via email. T...More >>
Powered by WorldNow

CBS19, MYTX & KCEB
2211 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701
Phone (903) 581-2211
Fax (903) 581-5769

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2004 - 2014, WorldNow and KYTX, Owned and Operated by London Broadcasting Company.
All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.