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Flight Attendant From Yorkville Filled In For Colleague On 9/11

Flight attendant Jeffrey Collman was on board American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. (CBS)

Flight attendant Jeffrey Collman was on board American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. (CBS)

Suzanne Le Mignot Suzanne Le Mignot
Suzanne Le Mignot serves as CBS 2 Chicago’s general assignment...
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YORKVILLE, Ill. (CBS) — They lost their son on 9/11. Now a Yorkville couple says it’s their mission to make sure what happened on that day is not forgotten.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Dwayne Collman says it was his son Jeffrey Collman’s dream to be a flight attendant. 

“If he sat near you on a plane, by the time you landed he’d know your whole life story,” Jeffrey’s stepmother, Kay Collman, says with a chuckle.

On Sept. 11, Jeffrey died doing what he loved. He was on board American Airlines Flight 11, the first plane to hit the World Trade Center. Collman had switched schedules with someone else that day.

“He saved somebody else’s life,” his father says.

While 10 years have passed since Jeffrey died, the healing is ongoing for his father and stepmother.

“She’s the glue that held us together. I couldn’t talk on the phone for months. I get so emotional,” Dwayne Collman says of his wife.

He says his 41-year-old son loved life and truly lived each day as if it were his last. 

“We always told him to save his money,” Kay Collman says. “He said,’Where’s the guarantee I’m gonna get old? I’m gonna enjoy every day.’”

The Collmans say the outpouring of support they’ve received in the past decade has been tremendous, especially at Jeffrey’s memorial service.

Total strangers sent quilts to honor their son’s memory. A woman in Australia heard of Jeffrey’s love of her country and sent his parents an elaborate quilt. Two women in Madison, Wisc. made a red, white and blue quilt in his honor.

“We should never forget this day,” Dwayne Collman says of 9/11.

In his son’s memory, Dwayne Collman will read his son’s name aloud at an Oswego memorial, where nearly 3,000 pairs of shoes will be laid out.  Each pair represents a person who died in the 9-11 attacks. Collman, who loved tennis, will also have a Yorkville tennis court named in his honor next spring.