50 Years Later survivors and rescuers of the worst air crash in Oklahoma history come back for an emotional reunion

Great State
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ARDMORE, OKLAHOMA -- Deanna McWhirt was a 21 year old ER nurse who'd never been to a scene like this.

"You can't speak. You can't think," she recalls of her first reactions to seeing the crash site.

She encountered wreckage strewn across a rugged hill-side, some of it still burning.

"The metal, the mud," she continues.

Deanna's job on the night of April 22, 1966, find the victims alive or dead.

"What I did find was something I will never, never forget."

A Lockheed Electra carrying 92 soldiers and the flight crew crashed on a rainy, night in 1966.

Becky Griffin was 11 the night she heard a low flying aircraft that rattled the windows of her home.

She heard an explosion and then saw the news alert on television.

Such are the memories from people who witness and reacted to the worst air crash in Oklahoma history.

"It was an awful night," says Griffin. "That's all I can say."

Gary Simmons was one of the people charged with bringing news of the crash to the flight crew member's families.

"The flight engineer lived next door to me," recalls Simmons. "The other flight engineer lived across the street from me." (Both men died in the crash).

It was one of those events where people remember their location and what they were doing when they heard the news.

Ardmorites reacted like you would expect when the call for help came.

Simmons says, "The community just opened up and helped any way they could."

Becky literally heard a call for help when two survivors came out of the woods in front of her parents' car.

"They had actually walked out over the mountain," says Griffin.

One of those two wounded crash victims was Danny McNutt.

He and several of the 15 survivors of that crash recently came back to tell their story and to thank their rescuers for what they did that night.

"It was highly emotional," says Butch Bridges of the unique reunion that took place on the 50th anniversary of the crash. "I think half of the group was in tears."

It's been several years since Bridges organized a fund-raiser and placed a memorial to the crash victims at the Ardmore Airpark. He used his old contacts to help organize the reunion too.

Becky Griffins says, "I think the reunion helped all of us."

From the worst often comes the best.

An early version of 'the Oklahoma standard' revealed itself on that dark night 50 years ago.

Some of the people who couldn't forget are now glad they can remember how the best came through.

The Greater Southwest Historical Museum has information and exhibits devoted to the 1966 crash.

The memorial to victims sits at the entrance to the Ardmore Airpark.

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