Chapter 6 - Memorial
Above, a video segment on the 35th anniversary of the crash of Eastern Airlines flight 401 from NBC News. Below, Roses dropped from the air on the gathering of survivors and family, December 29th 2007. Survivors gathered at the crash site for a memorial coordinated by the Southern Airboat group. At bottom, a photo of the crash site gathering taken from one of the ultralight aircraft flying overhead at the ceremony.
On Monday, December 3rd 2007, survivors of Eastern Air Lines flight 401 gathered at the Metro-Dade Firefighters' Memorial Building in Miami to honor Robert "Bud" Marquis, and to remember those who lost their lives in the crash nearly 35 years ago. The National Air Disaster Alliance/Foundation gave Marquis a humanitarian award for being the first to respond to the crash, and in a touching tribute, members of The Southern Airboat association presented Marquis with a completely rebuilt airboat - the same one he had used to rescue crash victims in 1972.
"I think it's nice, but I don't think I really deserve a lot of hullabaloo over this," Marquis, 78, of Homestead, said of the award. "This is way in the past."
Some of those he saved were there, including flight attendants Mercy Ruiz and Sue Tebbs, as well as Beverly Raposa, the flight attendant who rallied passengers to safety after the crash. Also in attendance was Ron Infantino, David Kaplan and the Casado family.
Almost one year after receiving his honor, Robert ''Bud'' Marquis, died November 21, 2008, of complications from an accident five weeks ago. He was 79. His wife said his ashes would be spread over the crash site in the Everglades that ''he loved so much,'' at a later date.
Marquis is also survived by a son, Donald Marquis of Altamonte Springs; a daughter, Terri Mabie of Tucson; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
"It has always bothered me that there was nothing done with 401," said Dummett, a retired Miami-Dade firefighter and founder of the American Airboat Search and Rescue Association, now living in Lake Wales.
Dummett hopes that the event will inspire a permanent memorial to Eastern Flight 401, similar to the ValuJet Memorial off the Tamiami Trail in the Everglades. ValuJet 592 went down in May 1996, killing all 110 on board.
Then, on Saturday, December 29, a fleet of over 100 airboats carried survivors, their families and others to the crash site for a special memorial.
Photos of the 35th anniversary memorial gathering at the crash site, December 29, 2007. Above Left - Ron Infantino stands among survivors. Abover right - Over 100 airboats participated in the evenet. Below Left - In red, stewardess Beverly Raposa at the memorial. Below Right - Gatherers take a moment to honor Robert 'Bud' Marquis. All photos by Southern Airboat, who coordinated the event.
If you are interested in helping remember the victims of flight 401 by establishing a permanent memorial marker in the Everglades, please join our grass-roots effort. The Flight 401 survivors have been meeting regularly in Miami and are working on the memorial, gathering records related to the accident and other crash-related activities.
From Left to Right: Ron Infantino (Passenger), Mercedes Ruiz (Flight Attendant), Beverly Rasposa (Flight Attendant) and Jan (Minguzzi) Coviello (Passenger).
Eastern Airlines Historical Foundation Inc.
C/o Roland Moore, President
1221 Brickell Avenue #2660
Miami, Florida 33131
Above: Flight attendants Beverly Raposa and Mercy Ruiz sit on a patch of ground in the Everglades where their flight crashed 35 years earlier. Below: The Casado family tour the crash site. Christina (center) was two-months-old at the time of the crash, making her the youngest survivor . Photos: AL DIAZ | MIAMI HERALD
Above: A piece of wreckage from Flight 401 still visible in the Everglades. This photo taken in September 2009.