Wyoming Valley Remembers 9/11 Train Tragedy from 1950

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WILKES-BARRE -- It's not just the 13th anniversary of the attacks of September 11, it's also the anniversary of another tragedy that happened 64 years ago. A train wreck killed 33 soldiers from the 109th Artillery in Wilkes-Barre.

Veterans laid wreaths and members of the 109th Artillery in Wilkes-Barre saluted as dozens of people gathered to remember the lives lost on this day in years past.

"Today we don't have all of the patriotic spirit that we used to have in the past. I wish the young people would get more involved in history," said Ed Pilwallis of Wilkes-Barre.

History would show that on this day in 2001, the World Trade Center in New York and the United States were attacked. But it would also show on this day in 1950, two trains collided, injuring hundreds of soldiers from the 109th Artillery and killing 33. The area soldiers were headed to Indiana for training.

Survivor Joe Anistranski remembers the crash well.

"I remember waking up, someone digging me out of the debris in a car and helping me get out of the car. We got out of the car and looked. There was another railroad car on top of us," said Anistranski.

It's the day Anistranski lost his best friend William Disbrow, a day some say they wish more people knew about and recognized.

"It's important that we remember where we came from. It's always important to remember the folks that built this community, built this organization, and were a part of it," said 109th Artillery officer-in-charge Maj. Gerard Wrazien.

"It's also a commemoration for all the troops that died to serve the 109th Artillery," said Army veteran Louis Sewell.

Some we spoke with say the enormous loss from 9/11, 2001 has overshadowed the valley's own tragedy from this day. But the turnout at the ceremony was good enough for survivors like Joe Anistranski.

"It makes me feel good to see that people haven't forgotten, and I pray and hope that they won't ever forget."

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