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Flight 93 jet wreckage to be buried at National Memorial near Shanksville

Deb Erdley
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Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Hank Kinzey of Detroit kisses the name of Honor Elizabeth Wainio, as he visits the Wall of Names at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016. Kinzey has been traveling to the national memorial to show his respects to the families of those who lost loved ones in the terrorist attacks.
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Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Family members visit the site of the impact zone at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Stonycreek Township on Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016.

Wreckage of United Flight 93 will return to Shanksville this year to be buried as part of the Flight 93 National Memorial, located near the site where it crashed on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Now that we are nearing the completion of the major design components of the memorial, we are ready to return the remaining wreckage to this hallowed ground to be buried,” said Stephen Clark, superintendent of the national memorial. “This has been years in the making. It’s a very special time.”

The National Park Service Foundation has been working with the FBI, United Airlines and the Families of Flight 93 on the final chapter of the Flight 93 saga, he said.

The plan to receive the wreckage coincides with the pending dedication of the Tower of Voices.

The 93-foot-tall structure, which features 40 wind chimes to honor the 40 passengers and crew who perished, is scheduled to be dedicated Sept. 8 at the memorial off Route 30 in Somerset County. The plane crashed when passengers fought back against terrorists who had taken control of the jet. Authorities believe their heroic actions thwarted an attack on Washington, D.C.

The memorial that tells their story attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year.

Clark said the wreckage that the FBI combed through following 9/11 has been stored in a warehouse in an undisclosed location.

This year, the National Park Service assembled a collection recovery team to sift through the wreckage. Clark said the team maintained strict confidentiality throughout the process.

Years after the crash, survivors of the passengers and crew members are still active in efforts to ensure the legacy of their loved ones is properly preserved as the story is repeated for a new generation.

“We requested one final search of the debris in order to determine if there were any human remains or identifiable personal items,” said Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93.

Members searched for personal items and other items that could help illustrate the heroism displayed by passengers and crew, said Brynn Bender, the national memorial curator who led the recovery team.

“It was important for us to touch everything so we knew, without a doubt, that every possible effort was made to reunite family members with any objects belonging to their loved ones,” Bender said.

Park Service officials and the Families of Flight 93 will schedule a date for the return and burial of the plane, Clark said.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or [email protected] or via Twitter @deberdley_trib

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