Friday, September 21, 2001

Remember 9-11-01

Husband of ex-isle woman
died at Pentagon

By Diana Leone

Former Hawaii resident Laurie Miller Laychak was substitute teaching when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, where her husband, David, was working as a budget analyst on Sept. 11.

She went home "about 10:30 -- and we kept waiting by the phone. Probably by 6 o'clock, I started to feel as if he would have been able to reach me at that point.

"I was afraid to go to sleep because I was afraid to stop praying. I knew he was such a strong person with a strong will to live. I really felt he was in there fighting."

Both Laurie, 39, a graduate of Hawaii Baptist Academy, and David are the children of military men; her father, Jack Miller, lives in Kailua after retiring from the Navy.

However, as each moment passed, the possibilities grew dimmer.

"The next day, we continued to call all the hospitals and try to find some information about him," Laychak said. By Wednesday night, I started to get scared that the worst news was going to be forthcoming.

"Thursday morning, his brother went to the briefing for family members of the missing. The general at the briefing said there are no survivors. At that point we had to face the reality. I had to sit down with my children."

Zachary, 9, and Jennifer, 7, took it hard. David, 40, would play with them in the yard every afternoon after getting home from work.

Though David served as a the Army as a civilian, he was "very patriotic" and wanted their children to know how important serving his country was to him, Laychak said.

"A major part of him was his patriotism, it was very strong. He completely believed in what he was doing, believed in serving his country and appreciated how fortunate we are this country," she said. On family outings, " We always sang patriotic songs in the car, 'This Land is My Land, "God Bless America...'"

"I'm telling the kids he was an American hero, serving his country," Laychak said.

She lived on Oahu 1975-80. In July 2000, David and the children returned with her to her Hawaii Baptist class's 20th reunion.

"He loved Hawaii. Loved the beach. He loved Kailua Beach," Laychak said.

At the reunion, classmates would say of David, "He was such a nice man." said Class of '80 reunion organizer Jackie Gouvea Suzuki. "He was friendly, easy to talk to and made a concerted effort to speak to people he never knew."

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