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On the Wings of memory, Flight attendant's story makes a full circle

Arkansas native Sara Low, 28, had logged only a few years as a flight attendant before boarding California-bound Flight 11 in Boston’s Logan Airport in the early morning hours of Sept. 11, 2001. After terrorists seized control of American Airlines Flight 11, authorities believe that Sara gave her telephone calling card to fellow flight attendant, Madeline Amy Sweeney, who used an “airfone” to relay critical information to the ground.

Karyn Ramsey, who was Sara’s roommate in Boston and a newly minted American Airlines employee, attended the Sept. 15 memorial service in Batesville, Ark.. Following the service, a group accompanied the grieving Low family to their home. Sara’s father, Mike Low, told the group about the pride he felt in Sara’s wings, which recognized her training, qualifications and length of service, cut short by her tragic death. In a gesture of compassion, Karyn detached the wings from her own uniform and pinned them on Sara’s father.

After Sara’s death, Mike developed a drive to do positive things in her name. He asked a friend at the Pentagon to help him send Karyn’s wings to the accelerating U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan.  Soon, Staff Sgt. Mark Baker, a member of the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, known as the Night Stalkers, had the privilege of pinning Karyn’s wings to his uniform. They were worn by Sgt. Baker under enemy fire in Operation Enduring Freedom. 

On May 21, 2002, the Night Stalkers presented the wings back to Mike in a ceremony held at Ft. Campbell, Ky. home of the 160th Special Operations Regiment.  After the ceremony, Sgt. Baker remarked that although he was often too preoccupied to think about the wings during a mission, they were inspirational to the entire crew whenever their helicopters took off or landed.  Believing that it was time to restore the wings to their rightful owner, Mike first had his daughter’s name and the words “Afghan War” engraved on the back of the pin and then returned them to Karyn, reluctantly but with deep appreciation.  Encouraged and supported by the Low family, Karyn recently donated the wings to the 9/11 Memorial Museum in honor of her friend and brave colleague, Sara. 

By Jan Ramirez, Chief Curator of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Alexandra Drakakis, Administrative Curatorial Assistant for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum contributed.