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Some find no closure to Sept. 11

June 01, 2002|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

The Lintons kept their TV off Thursday, the day the recovery effort at the World Trade Center complex in New York City ended with silence and solemnity.

"It was a downer," said Sharon Linton of Frederick, Md., whose 26-year-old son, Alan Patrick Linton Jr., is still considered missing.

When a hijacked plane rammed the south tower on Sept. 11, Linton was in his office on the 104th floor of the north tower. He called home to Frederick to say he was OK.

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After he hung up, another hijacked jet crashed into the north tower. Linton was never found.

Lee Cherry of Hagerstown found out this month that his 49-year-old brother, Vernon, a New York City firefighter, was confirmed dead.

Vernon Cherry and five other firefighters from Ladder Co. 118 in Brooklyn, N.Y., were among those who raced to the World Trade Center Sept. 11 to answer the call for help.

A haunting photo on the front of the Oct. 5 New York Daily News shows their ladder truck on the Brooklyn Bridge, headed for the burning towers.

New York City's Office of Chief Medical Examiner changed Vernon Cherry's status from missing to dead on May 17.

Lee Cherry said his brother's body was found in the lobby of the New York Marriott World Trade Center in January, along with his firefighting coat and wallet, but he was not positively identified until DNA testing was done.

A survivor reported seeing firefighters with the number 118 on their helmets helping people escape from the hotel just before it collapsed. Lee Cherry hopes his brother was one of them.

"Blessed is he who gives his life for somebody else," he said.

Vernon Cherry will be buried in Brooklyn at the end of this month.

Lee Cherry - who believes the terrorist attacks may have been a cataclysm forecasting the Second Coming of Christ - said that knowing his brother's body was found is no comfort.

"I was satisfied that he was buried in the rubble ...," he said. "It's a better memorial to be buried at the site."

Many people would rather have a grave to visit, but not Cherry.

"I am not the kind of guy that goes to talk to the dead ...," he said. "I don't believe in afterlife. The Bible says, 'When you're dead, you're dead.' "

Sharon Linton isn't ready to say her son is dead; no one has proven it to her.

She found out Tuesday that some of Alan's belongings had been recovered at the World Trade Center in November. They included two plastic ID cards used to access his tower's elevator, as well as his driver's license and vehicle registration from his wallet.

The wallet was not found. Linton said it probably contained $300 her son had withdrawn from an ATM the previous day, so someone may have taken the wallet and money and tossed the rest of the contents aside.

Sharon and Alan Linton Sr. furnished their DNA for possible testing in March, around the time that the body of one of Alan Jr.'s co-workers was identified.

The Lintons, though, are stuck in a wrenching limbo with no definite news about their son.

"We've never been presented with a body," Sharon Linton said. "God's still given us reason to hope. ... We're still hopeful. We're still praying."

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