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'I watched it fly directly into the South Tower': Retired Delta captain recalls 9/11 attack

Returning to Atlanta from New York, a Retired Senior Captain with Delta Air Lines watched from Newark Airport as 9-11 unfolded at the World Trade Center

ATLANTA — For a retired senior international captain with Delta Air Lines, the memories of 9/11 are as vivid today as they were 20 years ago when he witnessed history.

After 29 years as a Senior Captain with Delta and 8 years before that with the United States Air Force, what Max Gallimore saw on 9/11 was shocking.

He arrived at the Delta gate at Newark Airport early in the morning on 9/11 for a flight back to Atlanta.

“I was standing there in the gatehouse and someone exclaimed, ‘look at that’ and smoke was just pouring out of the top of the North Tower,” Gallimore said.

He called a friend who told him he heard on the radio that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.

“'Oh' I said, 'that’s silly. It is a beautiful day up here and I know all the traffic patterns and that is how silly rumors get started,'” Gallimore added.

And then for Gallimore came a shocking moment.

“I was standing there watching all this and saw this other plane coming from the South and said, 'well, it is on the river approach to LaGuardia Airport.' But I watched it fly directly into the South Tower and the big explosion you saw on television and everything like that,” Gallimore explained.

“It was something my mind would not accept what I saw," he said.

Gallimore spent three days near Newark with fellow Delta pilots and finally made his way home to Atlanta by train. And now 20 years later the memories of that day are forever in Max Gallimore's mind.

“You’ve often heard the expression, ’Oh I can’t believe that.’ Well, I could not believe it, but then it began to sink in and when the Towers started to collapse. I thought I was going to witness 20,000 to 30,000 people getting killed. It was absolutely unbelievable.”