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January 16, 2012

Memorial service honors those lost in 1965 Piatt tanker crash

Darrell Woodard wore a pendant Monday fashioned from what he said was a piece of the KC-135 tanker that crashed on Piatt Street 47 years ago.

Darrell Woodard wore a pendant Monday fashioned from what he said was a piece of the KC-135 tanker that crashed on Piatt Street 47 years ago.

Woodard said he found the bright yellow chunk of metal, which he wears around his neck on a long cord, two years ago while helping someone plant a tree near the memorial that pays tribute to the 30 people who lost their lives Jan. 16, 1965.

Woodard always wears the necklace, he said, to remember that cold day. He was 7 when the tanker crashed into the neighborhood, killing 23 people who lived there and the seven airmen on board. Woodard said he lost his first girlfriend that day.

Dozens of people came out Monday to remember the crash at a memorial service led by state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau. She said it still ranks as Kansas’ worst non-natural disaster. A monument at Piatt Memorial Park went up in 2007 after many years of planning.

Members of the American Legion Riders stood by with flags. Memorial leaders solemnly read the names of those who died that day. A color guard from the Junior ROTC program at Wichita West High School raised the American and Kansas flags.

Behind the memorial, a man leaned against an open back door, watching silently.

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