John D. Yamnicky Sr.
Hometown: Waldorf, Md., USA
Occupation: Defense contractor, Veridian Corp.
Location: Passenger, American Flight 77, Pentagon
"John spent most weekends on the tractor, mowing, dragging the fields, checking the fence lines. He loved his tractors--he had two--and really enjoyed taking care of the farm on weekends or evenings. He loved seeing the improvement and changes, something not always obvious in his work with the Navy and government. We have lived on, and improved, a 10-acre horse farm in Waldorf, Maryland, for 30 years. The picture, with him holding our first grandson on the tractor, includes what was important in his life: home and family and teaching the grandchildren." -- Jann Yamnicky, wife
John D. Yamnicky Sr., 71, a decorated Navy test pilot who survived combat missions in Korea and Vietnam, died as a passenger on American Airlines Flight 77.
Yamnicky was flying to Los Angeles on business for Veridian Engineering, a Virginia-based military contractor, where he worked on fighter aircraft and air-to-air missile programs.
But his best times, his son said, were spent away from the office, on a tractor in the fields of his Waldorf horse farm. "He loved being out there," said John Yamnicky Jr., 40. "His nature was not to stand around. He was always out in the fields, always working on something."
After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1952, Yamnicky served a combat tour in Korea and commanded a Navy attack squadron, serving two tours in Southeast Asia flying from aircraft carriers. He earned several medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross.
He spent years on bases and aircraft carriers, first as a naval aviator, then as director of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland and finally as a manager of various aircraft and weapons programs for the Department of Defense.
His wife, Janet, was working as a nurse at Jacksonville Naval Hospital when they met. They married in 1959 and had four children, three of whom still live in Southern Maryland.
The last time Yamnicky and his son John spoke, it was about an acrobatic flying show John had just visited. "He loved to fly," John Yamnicky Jr. said. "He was a true adventurer."
-- Matthew Mosk
Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com
The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.
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