(WTNH) — Governor Ned Lamont visited the Air National Guard Bradley Fire Department in East Granby Wednesday to thank first-responders who helped save lives in the B-17 plane crash earlier this month.
Still favoring his healing right arm, Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante of Simsbury was the first member of the National Guard greeted by Governor Lamont.
Traficante was one of the passengers aboard the B-17 on what’s called a ‘living history’ flight earlier this month when the plane caught on fire mid air and crashed near the main runway at Bradley. The crash killed seven of the 13 occupants.
Traficante had brought heat resistant gloves on the flight that enabled him to open the back hatch when the fire began, directly saving at least two lives.
Traficante declined interviews Wednesday. His Commanding Officer saying that in addition to his arm, he is still emotionally healing from the incident, but he did relate the experience to the Governor.
Traficante’s CO saying that the Guardsman has always dreamed of participating in a ‘living history’ flight, and that his response to the emergency wasn’t part of any formal briefing:
“…he happened to pay attention as they closed that hatch. It wasn’t part of some formal briefing, and happened to know what to do when it really counted.”– Commanding Officer of Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante of Simsbury
Both the Bradley Airport Fire Department and the Air National Guard Fire Department responded to the crash that day.
The Governor and National Guard Adjutant General Fran Evon presented the members of the fire department with the General’s Commemorative Coin for excellence to each responder.
Chief Master Sgt. Robert Cross, who is Chief of the National Guard Fire Department saying, “One of our primary missions is to rescue, so we actually get additional training on rescue. Fire suppression was handled by the Bradley Fire Department.”
Two of the victims of the crash included both the pilot and co-pilot. In addition to Sgt. Traficante, five other occupants aboard survived. Some are still hospitalized for burns.