ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) – Family members of the 79 Dyess airmen and civilians that died in the line of duty gathered together to honor their loved ones Friday at the Dyess Memorial Park expansion dedication.
The first crash happened in 1957.
“Shed that tear, that maybe we were robbed of because of our age at that time. We have been able to close some wounds. It really helps,” said Larry Burdette, whose father, William Burdette, was killed in the 1957 crash.
The Burdette brothers were only 2 and 4 years old when their father was killed, but at the Dyess Memorial Park expansion they met other people who also lost their loved ones in that same crash.
“Exchange memories and talk about things and how wonderful this is. It is special, it really is,” said Larry.
Ronald Price was only 11 years old when he lost his dad.
“He was my family’s hero,” said Price.
The last time he was in the Key City was the day of the crash 62 years ago.
“It is still kind of a raw thing with me, because I don’t know what I missed, but I have the memories and we have the family pride,” said Price.
But that is not the only crash that has happened with Dyess Air Force Base.
There have been 22 crashes, the latest in 2015, but no matter the time frame, all the families felt the same.
“I am really happy, even if I am crying, so I am very happy and this is a healing thing to have this kind of memorial park in place,” said Margaret Klein Johnston, whose father, 1Lt. Karl Michael Klein, was killed.
Johnston’s dad was killed when she was just 3 years old.
“It definitely changed our lives, but we have much of my dad’s family here with us today. I have five cousins who have made the trip, and this wonderful man that I have reconnected with,” said Johnston.
When the anniversary comes on the day of the crash, the families say they will be back.