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‘It helped a lot of people’: Memorial held for victims of Logan Airport plane crash for 50th anniversary

"If one person can get closure out of this, I think it's worthwhile," Jim Fuller, who lost his parents in the crash, said Sunday.

A woman clasped her hands in prayer during a Memorial Service at Our Lady of the Airways Chapel for the passengers and crew that were killed on Delta Flight 723. Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

Fifty years ago, a Delta Airlines plane crashed while trying to land at Logan Airport in low visibility, killing all 89 people on board.

On Sunday, families of those who were killed in the crash attended a memorial service at the airport’s chapel, followed by a gathering with speeches and music, in honor of the lives lost.

The plane crash, the worst in New England‘s history, happened July 31, 1973. The flight originally took off from Burlington, Vermont, but stopped briefly in Manchester, New Hampshire, to pick up passengers from a flight cancelled due to the intense fog that day.

There were 83 passengers, five crew members, and one other Delta employee on the plane when the pilot flew too low and crashed into a seawall, decimating the plane.

Sunday’s service and gathering were organized by Michelle Brennen, whose father was killed in the crash when she was just 10 years old, The Boston Globe reported.


Jim Fuller, who attended Sunday, said he was very grateful to Brennen.

“If one person can get closure out of this, I think it’s worthwhile,” he said.

The service

Over 100 people attended the memorial Mass Sunday morning, the Globe reported. Rev. Christopher O’Connor began by reading the names of all the crash victims, Fuller said.

Fuller, whose parents — Joseph and Margaret Fuller — died in the crash when he was just eight years old, said O’Connor was in tears at times during the service.

“Look at this crowd here, this beautiful legacy of people,” O’Connor said at the service, the Globe reported. “What a great testimony to your love for your deceased loved ones to be here.”

A memorial plaque honoring the crash victims now hangs at the back of the chapel. Fuller said it was installed sometime in the last few months as Brennen planned Sunday’s event.

At the end of the service, Fuller said, O’Connor blessed the plaque with holy water, as well as the families of the victims.

Stephen Fontaine placed his hand on a plaque dedicated to the 89 passengers and crew who were on board Delta Flight 723 when it crashed in 1973. – Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe

The gathering

After the Mass, the families gathered in an airport ballroom for a program during which they performed music, read poems, and shared their thoughts and emotions about the crash. Fuller said at least 200 people attended the gathering, including about 20 members of his own family.


“Obviously there’s a somber tone, but there was a lot of celebration — just remembering these people,” he said. “And the fact that there’s so many people that came in, I think that tells you how special the people that were on that plane were.”

The families made slides with information about their loved ones’ lives and shared them during the gathering, Fuller said. Fuller’s slide said his parents had just celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary when the crash happened.

His parents lived in Londonderry, New Hampshire, the slide said. His father was an engineer at Honeywell and a sergeant with Londonderry police. His mother worked for Avon Cosmetics and raised four children.

“Despite their busy schedules, they always had time for their family, [and] were active in their church and their community,” Fuller wrote in the slide.

What the families had to say

Fuller was one of many people who spoke during the program. He said he used his time to thank his family and all the family members of all the victims who helped each other get through the tragedy they collectively experienced.

One of the most memorable moments was when a relative of the pilot spoke about her experience of grief, Fuller said.


“People want to blame the pilot for everything, but he died too, so I don’t know how you can be angry at him. I think [her speech] really touched a lot of people,” he said.

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Brennen said previously that she didn’t want people to feel bitterness or look for blame at the gathering, Fuller said.

“I think we didn’t have any of that — blaming anyone or anything. It was just about getting together, having a chance to people to meet people that you never knew and went through something similar to what you did,” he said. “And I think it helped a lot of people.”

One of the goals of the gathering was to remember the victims’ lives more than their deaths, Fuller said. What he wants people to remember about his parents is that, when they died, they were on their way to New York City to pick up a group of inner city children who were to spend time with them as part of the Fresh Air Fund program.

This wasn’t the first time they’d participated in the program, Fuller said. His parents enjoyed bringing children to their farm for part of the summer to experience the outdoors and a different way of life.

His parents’ memory is what inspired him to organize a blood drive with the American Red Cross as part of the weekend honoring the victims, Fuller said.

“What a legacy for them. They’re there trying to make the world a better place,” he said.


Fuller’s cousin, Michael Fuller, was also at the gathering, and wore pictures of his aunt and uncle, the Globe reported. He told the newspaper the event was an acknowledgment of the families’ pain and a chance to say a final goodbye.

“This is really the first time that I think that we’ve addressed this, truly addressed it,” he said. “It just happened, and everybody moved on. And I don’t believe that we really brought closure until now.”


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