Raindrops fell as George Flinn of Overland Park kneeled in prayer and paid tribute to his college roommate on Monday at the 9/11 Memorial in Overland Park. A solemn ceremony marked the day in 2001 that terrorist attacks in America killed nearly 3,000 people.
“My college roommate, ‘Chic’ Burlingame, was the pilot of the plane that flew into the Pentagon, and sadly, Chic was taken from us,” said Flinn, who was housed with Charles ‘Chic’ Burlingame III, at the U.S. Naval Academy, where the men graduated from in 1971. “He was a wonderful roommate, a wonderful friend,” said Flinn. “We’ll never forget him.”
Flinn said he was in Dallas in 2001, walking or running on a treadmill, when the first plane hit and he said he thought, “Oh my gosh, what is that?” After the second plane hit, Flinn said it was evident that it was a terrorist attack.
“Later that day, I got a phone call from a Naval Academy classmate saying that Chic had been the pilot of the third plane.”
Flinn, who went on to join the U.S. Marine Corps, remembers that he could not even speak for a minute or two after hearing the news. He said Burlingame was a wonderful roommate and friend. “He was just the nicest person, great pilot, proud as he could be to be in the Navy,” said Flinn. He also said that Burlingame was a great father.
Early Monday morning Flinn sent a message to Sherry Burlingame, Chic’s wife, with whom he is still friends. “I sent her a text and just said, Sherry, I miss you, love you.”
Flinn, who served just over 20 years with the Marines, said the attacks were a wake up call for our country. “Everybody lost someone that day,” he said. “I think our military got into step after that and realized that we had to be ready for the uncertain things that the terrorists do.”
Flinn said he is grateful to remember Chic. “I’m sure he’s sorely missed by anyone that knew him.”