Having spent nearly 55 years in broadcasting I have hundreds of memories about the industry. I remember a lot of events of yesteryear but forget to turn off the coffee pot. I was recently asked about the interview during my career that stands out the most in my mind. It would have to be with Lovemans Department Store executive John Moore Sr. He related to me, it was 100 degrees in Dallas, Texas. Flight 191 had been un-eventful until the Delta Jet was less than 20 minutes out of the Dallas Fort Worth airport. Moore said all of a sudden the jet encountered wind shear and in seconds descended hundreds of feet. Moore said he knew the plane was in trouble. Flight 191 crashed killing 128 people. One of the plane’s engines hit a nearby freeway striking a car and instantly killing the driver. Moore, who was 43 at the time, was one of the 28 survivors.
I had called Moore a few days after the crash for an interview. He was recuperating but graciously agreed to talk with me. He told me everything from about why he was on the flight to what happened when the plane went down. Moore was very blunt, “God spared my life." During the chilling conversation I could hardly think of the next question to ask. Moore said it was only a few seconds and he didn’t know if he was in heaven or still on earth. Moore said he saw the sky and started making his way out of the back of the mangled aircraft. Moore realized his injuries were minor and went back through the rear to help others in distress. Looking at the picture of the rear of the airplane, one can only imagine what his escape was like. Moore said he’d learned from his pastor, the late Ben Haden, that we may not understand but regardless of the circumstances “God is in control”. Moore said, “During the rescue that thought kept going through my mind.” At the end of the interview Moore said he would still fly and Delta was the airline of choice.
Moore was a member of First Presbyterian Church. He was always sharing his testimony. When Lovemans sold to Alcoa, Tennessee-based Proffitts in 1988, Moore dedicated his life to benevolent causes and helping others. He worked as a greeter at the Walmart on Signal Mountain Road. Moore said he saw dozens of customers who traded at Lovemans and it was fun to talk over old times. Although I talked with him several times on the phone we had never met. One day as I was leaving the store I heard someone call, “Hey Earl”. I walked over to where he was standing and he introduced himself. We talked about the friendship between my grandfather E.C. Freudenberg, who operated a grocery store on N. Market Street, and the Lovemans family. I told him my dad delivered groceries to Grace Moore. He said he had many comments about our conversation way back in 1985. From then on I would always say hi to John every time I was in that Walmart. Each time he would tell me “the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ”. Moore stressed we never know when our earthly time will end and we will enter eternity. Moore passed away in May of 2017.
I’ll never forget him talking about his brush with death and how he survived. Our radio conversation left me speechless. Moore sent me several pictures of the event. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation ruled the pilots should have gone around a severe thunderstorm. Numerous airline regulation changes were ordered when the investigation was complete and cause determined.