Former resident's name will be on 9-11 memorial
Gary Bird, in WTC, only Arizonan killed in terrorist attack
KINGMAN - Gary Bird appeared to have a bright future when he graduated from Mohave Union High School in 1968.
"Gary was a great kid," said Scott Dunton Sr., who graduated with Bird.
"He was vice president of our class, a football and basketball player, and a member of the National Honor Society. He always had a smile on his face."
Bird, a Tempe businessman, was in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. He was inside the World Trade Center when terrorists crashed hijacked jets into the Twin Towers. Bird was the lone Arizona resident to die when the towers fell.
Members of the Legislative Governmental Mall Commission are planning to inscribe Bird's name on the Arizona 9-11 Memorial in Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix. The commission also is reviewing some laser-cut inscriptions such as "You don't win battles of terrorism with more battles" to determine if they are appropriate in light of some complaints and decide if they should be removed.
Dunton plans a future trip to see the Arizona 9-11 Memorial for the first time.
He will never forget what he was doing when word of the terrorist attacks was flashed across the country and around the world.
"I was in a helicopter with (pilot) Jim Marks flying over my ranch in Fort Rock when we got radio instructions to get out of the air," Dunton said. "Every aircraft had to land at once, so we flew back to Kingman.
"Jim was engaged in a search operation in Oregon and died there several months later. I went home (on Sept. 11) and watched it all on television."
In the days and weeks that followed the attacks, Dunton watched the names of victims on TV screens and in newspapers. Bird's name jumped out at him.
The last time the two saw each other was during the 20th class reunion in 1988 at Metcalfe Park.
"I saw this guy walking toward me and he was bald as an egg, so I did not immediately recognize him," Dunton said. "But I knew that big old smile.
"Gary had great hair in high school and we both got a laugh out of it."
Dunton later learned Bird had a job in risk management that took him to New York that fateful day.
"I understood it was his first time in New York, and if he was in that field, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, so it was ironic that it happened to him," Dunton said.
Dunton said he is not aware of any relatives of Bird living in the Kingman area.
Calls were placed Friday to two people with the last name of Bird with Kingman phone numbers. Neither immediately returned a message.