GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) – Eighteen years ago, several large and small planes were dispatched to immediately ground their aircraft, landing them at the Garden City Regional Airport.

“What was going on in our country and why were we being attacked,” said Garden City Fire Department retired Chief Allen Shelton.

Chief Shelton was on his 19th year of being fire chief and after a fireman ran outside to break the news.

“Within a few minutes, we were dispatched to the Garden City Airport,” he said.

Several planes were on the ground. 

Some were so big, they had to improvise getting people out of the planes.

“For the first plane, we actually had to use our ladder truck and had the passengers come down the ladder truck to come off the plane,” he said.

Chief says the passengers were in Garden City for three days and when the big planes were allowed to take off, they had to remove lights and signs because the runway was so small.

“We had to improvise that’s for sure,” he said.

He remembers the sense of unity from Garden City and hopes this day will continue to remind everyone to stand together.

“We are one voice for the United States, and we need to act like it,” he said.