Boeing Co. workers throughout the world observed a moment of silence Thursday afternoon for the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks.
The observance coincided with a memorial service for three of their colleagues who were traveling on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon.
The employees, all with Boeing’s space and communications businesses headquartered in Southern California, were Dong Lee, 48; Ruben Ornedo, 39; and Chandler Keller, 29, Boeing spokeswoman Barbara Murphy confirmed.
For employees working at Boeing’s commercial airplane offices, news of their deaths was the latest in a series of blows.
First, they heard there was a terrorist attack. Then they heard jetliners were used. Finally, they heard the worst: Two Boeing 757s and two Boeing 767s, the very airplanes they make, had been used in a brutal attack that may have killed thousands of Americans.
At Boeing’s massive factory in Everett where 767s are assembled, Ralph Ruiz said employees were quiet at first, then angry.
"We build this product, and we feel it’s a great product, but when it’s in the wrong hands, like anything else, it can be used against you," Ruiz said. "There’s a lot of anger, and really we don’t know who to put the anger to."
Like much of the country, Ruiz said employees at Boeing also were stunned to learn that terrorists had been able to circumvent U.S. military intelligence and airport security checks.
"They took our safety blanket away," he said.
Charles Grieser, who began working at Boeing on the 767 mock-up in 1978, said he couldn’t stop thinking about the children whose parents were killed in the blast.
"What about all the children that were in day care yesterday — nobody to come pick them up?" he asked. "You drop off your kids at day care and they expect you to come and get them."
Boeing spokesman Peter Conte said the company was focusing its efforts on helping government officials investigate the attacks by providing all information it could about the airplanes. Boeing will work with other aviation companies to improve safety, but Conte said there is little an airplane maker can do to prevent such an attack.
"Any airplane could have been used in this capacity," he said.
Ruiz said workers’ anger was tempered by mourning for the victims and their families. But he said their pride in building airplanes had not dwindled.
"We build a good product, and it does a good thing," Ruiz said. "And it’s not an airplane (that did this). It’s the people who are kind of warped."
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