The Story of David Denn
My name is Randy Losey, and I would like to share this story with you.
In the fall of 2004, I received an email from a former Walkersville, Maryland resident finding my flyARIA.com Advanced Range Instrumentation History web site through a web search, comments about the web site how he liked it. I replied to his email and thanked him for his kind comments; it would not be the last time that he would contact me.
The next day I received another email from him. He told me that he had recovered some personally identifiable items from the crash site in the years following the crash of ARIA 328. He had tried to return these items to the families, but his attempts to do so had failed. He could not find out information that would permit him to return the items. He offered to send them to me so they could ultimately go to the families.
I was taken aback by this email; my first thought was that he was playing a cruel joke. I then had a feeling that made me feel even worse; what if he was telling the truth. How could I approach these families 33 years after the crash of ARIA 328 and tell them? I replied to his email that I would locate the family members and return the items. I felt emotionally drained.
I did not believe him until the package arrived on a Saturday. I could not bring myself to open the package immediately; the box sat on the dining room table for most of the day. As promised, the items were in the box neatly packed with care.
The former Walkersville, a Maryland resident, was David Denn. David was 12 years old when ARIA 328 crashed over Walkersville, Maryland. David had kept the items for all of these years, looking for a way to return them.
Within days of David Denn's initial contact with me, I received an email from a family member of one of 328's crew. This email was the first communication for me with this family, and when I received the package from David Denn, I learned that this individual would be my first contact with the news of the recovered item. I later learned from David that it was by this crew member's name in a web search engine that he found the flyARIA.com web site. The surname he searched for was Charlie Gratch ARIA 328, Mission Coordinator. It was Charlie Gratch's younger brother, who contacted me.
I contacted all of the families involved with the recovery, and I returned the items as desired. I had the pleasure of talking with extremely appreciative families. I told them about David Denn and the story of how it came to be.
David had also included another recovered item in the package intended for me; he didn't tell me that he was sending anything else. What David didn't know was that on the morning of May 6, 1981, tasked to deliver a CRU-60 oxygen regulator to an awaiting ARIA 328, I arrived at the flight line. The aircraft engines were running as I climbed into the aircraft and delivered the CRU-60. In the package, David had included a CRU-60 that he recovered the following year after the crash. David didn't realize the effect of the situation surrounding my delivery of CRU-60 had on me.
I sit back in amazement and think of how one email has touched so many lives, how these items recovered by David Denn sparked good memories and the positive effects of holding something that owned by their loved ones. I have seen the impact of emotional healing that has occurred because of a simple email. I am grateful that I have been allowed to see firsthand the positive effects of the actions of a 12-year old that transcended decades later.
Mr. David Eugene Denn passed away on November 15, 2011, from cancer. He was 42.