Captain John Ogonowski

Captain John Ogonowski
American Flight 11

Captain on the Farm

John Ogonowski wore two uniforms: his navy blue senior captain's uniform for American Airlines and the blue jeans and denim shirt he wore while working on his 150- acre farm in Dracut, Mass., where he lived with his wife and three daughters.

Twelve days a month, Mr. Ogonowski, 50, flew transcontinental flights. On off days, he tended the farm's peach orchard, with acres set aside for corn, pumpkins and hay. After supper he often sat in his favorite chair, reading agricultural journals late into the evening.

Mr. Ogonowski joined the Air Force at the height of the Vietnam War. He flew C-141 transport planes, taking equipment to Asia, and sometimes flying back to the States carrying the bodies of American soldiers. He became a commercial pilot in 1979, and met a pretty flight attendant named Peggy, whom he later married.

The morning of Sept. 11, he left his wife at home, still in bed. It was already dawn as he turned down the road in his dusty green Chevy truck, to start his drive to Boston and to Logan International Airport. As he passed his uncle's nearby house, he tooted his horn. Mr. Ogonowski was the captain of Flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center.

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 3, 2001.

John Ogonowski, of Dracut, pilot for American Airlines

By Globe Staff, 9/16/2001

John A. Ogonowski of Dracut, a pilot for American Airlines, was killed Tuesday in the crash of Flight 11 in New York. He was 50.

Mr. Ogonowski was born, raised, and educated in Lowell. He graduated from St. Stanislaus School, Keith Academy, and Lowell Technical Institute, class of 1972, with a bachelor of science degree in nuclear engineering. He was a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.

Mr. Ogonowski flew as a pilot in the Vietnam War, assigned to the Air Force base in Charleston, S.C. He left the military with the rank of captain.

He flew for American Airlines for 23 years, and was a member of the Allied Pilot Association.

Mr. Ogonowski was an active member of the Dracut Grange, the Polish American Veterans Association, the American Legion, the Merrimack Valley Vietnam Veterans, and the Dracut Historical Society. He belonged to the board of directors for the Massachusetts Farm Bureau, and the board of directors for the Dracut Land Trust Inc.

An avid farmer, he worked to secure 150 acres of farmland on Marsh Hill Road in Dracut through the federal Agriculture Preservation Restriction program. He raised hay, corn, pumpkins, blueberries, and peaches, and worked actively to preserve open space in Dracut for future generations.

He leaves his wife, Margaret (La Valle), his parents, Alexander and Theresa, and three daughters, Laura, Caroline, and Mary Katherine, all of Dracut; two brothers, Lieutenant Colonel James of Dracut, and Joseph of Newport, Mich.; and two sisters, Dolores Quigley of Pensacola, Fla., and Carol of Dracut.

A memorial Mass will be said tomorrow at 11 a.m. in St. Francis Church in Dracut.

Editorial Obituary published in THE BOSTON GLOBE on 9/16/2001.

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