Saturday, June 27, 2009

D.C. Crash Kills General Who Scrambled Jets on 9/11

D.C. Crash Kills General Who Scrambled Jets on 9/11

David F. Wherley Jr., the head of the Washington National Guard who scrambled jets over the city during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was among those killed in the worst commuter train crash in the city’s history, officials said.

Wherley’s wife, Ann, was also among the nine people killed when a train plowed into the rear of a stopped train during rush hour on June 22, Quintin Peterson, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, said in a telephone interview. Both were 62 and lived in southeast Washington.

Wherley was commander of the 113th Fighter Wing at Andrews Air Force base in Maryland during the September 2001 terrorist attacks and sent up aircraft with orders to protect the White House and the Capitol, according to the 9/11 Commission report.

He commanded the District of Columbia National Guard from 2003 to 2008, the unit said in a statement.

“I had the opportunity to work with him as he commanded the troops here in D.C. and as he sent them off to war,” Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty said at a news conference yesterday. “He was as fine a public servant and as dedicated to the United States of America and everything that is great about this country as anyone I have ever met.”

The operator of the train, Jeanice McMillan, 42, of Springfield, Virginia, was also killed, according to Angela Gates, a spokeswoman for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.
Others Who Died

The others who died were Mary Doolittle, 59, of northwest Washington; Veronica Dubose, 29, of northwest Washington; Ana Fernandez, 40, of Hyattsville, Maryland; Dennis Hawkins, 64, of southeast Washington; Lavonda King, 23, of northeast Washington and Cameron Williams, 37, whose address wasn’t available, Peterson said.

Wherley established the D.C. National Guard’s Youth Challenge program, according to the guard’s statement. The residential program offers academic instruction, physical training and discipline to young people including high school dropouts, according to its Web site.

“General Wherley was not only the quintessential citizen soldier -- he also made valuable contributions to our community,” said Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat from Louisiana, according to the guard’s statement. Landrieu said the Youth Challenge program “has changed the lives of thousands of at-risk children in D.C. and around the country.”

Wherley flew T-38 training jets and F-105 Thunderchief and F-4 Phantom combat jets during a military career that began in 1969, according to the guard’s statement. It said he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Fordham University in New York City in 1969, and a master’s in business administration from the University of Maryland in 1977.

The Wherleys left a son, David, who is a noncommissioned officer in the U.S. Army Golden Knights, a daughter, Betsy, and one grandchild, according to the guard.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Flinn in San Francisco at or Todd Shields in Washington at

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