SANDWICH (CBS) – It took a full month after the September 11th attacks for the body of Navy Captain Gerry DeConto to come home to Sandwich.
The 44-year-old was killed when Flight 77 crashed into his Pentagon office suite.
From the moment his family learned of his death, they say their needs, and his remains, were treated with respect.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong reports
“They took the utmost care to handle everything correctly all the way from the very beginning,” said DeConto’s mother Patricia.
“I felt that everybody had treated us very, very well.”
DeConto’s brother David said the family just, “felt lucky that we actually had a body to bury,” knowing that so many other victims’ families have to deal with knowing that their loved ones’ remains were never identified.
That’s why today’s news, that an unknown number of unidentified victims’ remains were cremated and dumped in a landfill, is so hard to hear for many victims’ relatives.
In that regard, the DeContos say they’re lucky.
“I’m sure nothing was done on purpose,” said Patricia DeConto. “And there were probably mistakes, but mistakes do happen. As far as I know all the remains were very much honored.”
David DeConto says the pain they feel over his brother’s murder, “just doesn’t go away. It changes but it doesn’t go away. We go forward, we honor Gerry, but we don’t forget.”
Right now, the family honors that memory by spearheading and fundraising for a $4 million refurbishment of the Sandwich High School athletic complex, where Gerry was a standout athlete.
They are several years into their work, but have much more to complete.
“The reason it’s really good,” explains Patricia, is that, “it honors him but it also fills a very important need in the town here now. I think this is something that would make him happy.”
To learn more about the family’s efforts, visit www.sandwichsportscomplex.org