Marylanders face aftermath with resolve

Sun Staff

Nearly a dozen Marylanders were added yesterday to the lists of the dead or missing, a U.S. Navy missile destroyer stood guard on the Chesapeake Bay, bomb threats continued in Baltimore and nearly 200 FBI agents combed the state investigating a possible link to Tuesday's terrorist plot.

The latest day of extraordinary activity and unforgettable images seemed to drive home once again that Maryland, as well as everywhere else, has been knocked askew by the shock waves of devastating suicide attacks in New York and Virginia.

Yet many Marylanders - even those whose family members are dead or missing - continued to have hope for the country.

"I just want it to be known that my husband would not want something like this to disrupt our country," said Betty Woods, wife of Marvin R. Woods, a 58-year-old communications manager from St. Mary's County. Marvin Woods, who works at the Pentagon, and 125 other people at the military complex remain unaccounted for.

"He would want everyone to be strong and to know that this was the best place in the world to live in," Woods said.

Parts return to normal

Some aspects of Maryland life did begin returning to normal yesterday. Air travel resumed at . Gov. Parris N. Glendening lifted the state of emergency he imposed to allow aid to be sent to terror-ravaged areas. And the began its season last night with "The Star Spangled Banner" and a Beethoven concerto.

"Beethoven is very hopeful music; it is my form of prayer," said Emanuel Ax, a piano soloist from New York who is performing with the orchestra. "I am not a fireman or a rescue worker, but it is my attempt to try and provide comfort."

But there were still surreal moments yesterday, such as military planes descending on Anne Arundel County, where a confused pilot of a single-engine plane returned to the skies before the no-fly ban was lifted.

Grim reminders of the attacks - which have killed nearly two dozen Marylanders - aren't far away.

Among those added to the list was a newly married 1998 Naval Academy graduate from Columbia who worked in intelligence in the Pentagon. A Navy contractor from Upper Marlboro who helped coach the St. Mary's-Ryken softball team. A retired Verizon Communications worker, and Baltimore native, flying for the first time when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in western Pennsylvania.

Patricia A. Cushing, 69, was flying to San Francisco, her first flight on a commercial airplane, said her nephew, Steve I. Hasenei of Columbia.

"She's been talking about this trip for a year," Hasenei said. "She's never been outside the East Coast. ... She talked about going over the Golden Gate."

A large investigation

The huge international investigation of Tuesday's terrorist attacks has included intensive work in Maryland, which is under close scrutiny in part because of its proximity to Washington and New York and military installations.

FBI agents across the region were conducting interviews and following leads that have poured into the bureau's field office in Woodlawn.

Two federal prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore have been assigned to work directly with local FBI agents, a sign that local investigators could also be preparing search warrants or subpoenas to bring witnesses before a federal grand jury.

At a briefing yesterday, Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller said investigators are trying to learn the hijackers' movements and contacts in recent months. FBI officials and federal prosecutors in Baltimore declined to comment specifically on their work here.

"We're working with the FBI, but I really can't say what we're doing," said Maryland U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning.

Special Agent Peter A. Gulotta Jr., a spokesman for the Baltimore FBI office, said only that almost all of the 200 agents assigned to the agency's combined Maryland and Delaware operations are working on the terrorist investigation.

"We've got our people out there working, like every other field office" in the country, he said.

The investigation also hastened the interim appointment of Thomas M. DiBiagio as the U.S. attorney for Maryland. DiBiagio, nominated for the post last week by the White House, is scheduled to be sworn in Monday morning.

Demonstrations of grief

State officials announced that all state offices would observe five minutes of silence at noon today in memory of the victims. Glendening called for churches and government buildings with bells to toll them at 12:05 p.m. for one minute "as a demonstration of our unity as a nation."

Other demonstrations of the nation's grief are planned. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is expected to join area clergy at noon today at War Memorial Plaza on Gay Street for an interfaith prayer service to remember Tuesday's victims.

Glendening and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran also issued statements warning gasoline retailers not to use the terrorist actions as an excuse for excessive price increases.

Glendening said there have been no verified instances here of the type of price-gouging that has been seen in other states. There have been reports of gas retailers in some Midwestern states charging as much as $4 to $5 a gallon in the wake of Tuesday's attacks.

The governor said U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham had given assurances that there have been no oil supply disruptions that would justify large gas price increases.

Using an implied threat of regulatory action, Glendening said he had authorized the attorney general to call upon the resources of state agencies to ensure "that any suspected Maryland businesses are in full compliance with state law."

"If the attorney general finds any pattern of price manipulation that threatens the health, safety or welfare of the public, I will use all executive authority at my disposal to put an end to such reprehensible behavior," the governor's statement said.

Incident in the sky

The reopening of the skies over Maryland and elsewhere came with at least one incident yesterday. Less than an hour before the air curfew was lifted, military jets forced a small single engine plane to land in an Anne Arundel County airfield, and its pilot was taken in for questioning by Maryland State Police on accusations that he violated the federal ban on air traffic, police said.

The sight of an airborne plane worried people who saw the Cessna-type craft soaring above the Broadneck peninsula toward Arnold about 10:30 a.m.

"It was wild," said postal worker Chuck Winkler, 27, who was delivering mail in Pasadena when he saw the tan and white aircraft being surrounded by several military jets. "As soon as I saw the plane, I heard the loud engines of the jets. I thought they were escorting it somewhere. But then I thought something's not right."

The pilot was forced to land at Schmidts Airfield near Lake Shore in Pasadena, where county police said it appears the plane took off. Citing heightened sensitivity about air traffic, state and federal

authorities offered scant details about the incident and declined to release the name of the pilot, who was later released.

Security remains on the minds of other authorities as well. Baltimore police reported more than 60 bomb threats - all of the prank variety - at schools, police headquarters, colleges and businesses yesterday and Wednesday, so many that O'Malley compared the behavior to "nothing short of treason."

Reaction to terrorism didn't stop at the coast. The guided missile destroyer USS Ramage is usually tied in port in Norfolk, Va., but yesterday it guarded the skies in the Chesapeake Bay.

Protection on the waters

Anchored near Solomons Island, the Ramage is part of an emergency air defense network deployed by the Navy on Wednesday with orders to watch the skies over Washington and New York and protect them from hostile threats.

The 505-foot Arleigh Burke class destroyer is equipped with one of the most sophisticated surveillance radar systems afloat and armed with anti-aircraft guns, surface-to-air missiles and numerous surface-attack missiles, such as Harpoons and Tomahawks.

State appellate courts in Annapolis are also seeing beefed-up security. The Court of Appeals and Administrative Office of the Courts buildings, which used to have no security, have state Department of General Services guards at entrances. Employees must show government badges, and guards are searching visitors' bags by hand.

Small gestures of support

Area residents continued showing up in blood drive lines and making other small gestures of support, even as the staggering number of expected casualties from Tuesday approached 5,000.

When Ruth Malecki, an employee at Kohl's Department Store in Severna Park, heard that the New York firefighters needed socks, she approached fellow store workers and said, "We need to do something."

So she organized a sock drive, urging people to drop off spare new pairs.

Employees have contributed about 25 pairs. One woman stopped by with three bagsful. Malecki, who has organized the drive independently of Kohl's, says any new socks, for men or women, will do.

"It doesn't matter what color," she said. "Socks are socks."

Other local efforts were far greater, and graver. The 700-person crew aboard the USNS Comfort is trained to save lives, but as the Navy ship inched its way yesterday from Baltimore to New York City, the realization set in that by the time the big floating hospital reaches its destination today, its mission might be only to recover and hold the dead.

"This will be especially hard because the crew here is trained to save people, not collect remains," said Petty Officer David H. Erlich of Woodbridge, Va.

"This isn't just a foreign land like Bosnia or Somalia, this is Hometown U.S.A. - New York City. Even the saltiest of us veterans on board are not really ready for what we'll see," he said.

Senior Chief David Jones, the ship's legal officer, said the crew must emotionally detach itself for the sake of the victims and their families.

"It'll be a matter of cleaning the rubble and clearing the bodies out and identifying them so families can have closure," said Jones, who lives in Fredericksburg, Va.

"I'm sure there are tens of thousands of people out there clinging to hope."

Sun staff writers Jeff Barker, Laura Barnhardt, Johnathon E. Briggs, Laura Cadiz, Michael Dresser, Caitlin Francke, Allison Klein, Rona Kobell, Mary McCauley, Lorraine Mirabella, Michael Scarcella, Andrea Siegel, Eric Siegel, Walter F. Roche Jr., Dion Thompson, Del Quentin Wilber and Laurie Willis contributed to this article.

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