New Commissioners Appointed
Contact: Hugh Vickery, 202-208-6416
Contact: Joanne Hanley, 814.443.4557
Salazar Names G. Henry Cook and Michael F. Walther to
SOMERSET, PA -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today named G. Henry Cook, chairman, president and CEO of the Somerset Trust Company, and Michael F. Walther, director of the National Drug Intelligence Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, as members of the Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission.
The advisory commission is responsible for providing recommendations to the Interior Department and the National Park Service on the planning, construction and long-term management of the Flight 93 National Memorial. The unpaid appointments are effective immediately.
“Henry Cook and Michael Walther are leaders who command great respect in the community,” Salazar said. “Their sharp minds, organizational ability and leadership qualities will help the advisory commission greatly as it works to honor the heroes of Flight 93.”
The Flight 93 National Memorial is dedicated to the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 who on September 11, 2001 fought terrorists to take control of the plane, diverting it from its intended target of Washington, DC. It crashed instead into the remote fields of Shanksville, approximately 80 miles outside Pittsburgh.
“Henry Cook and Michael Walther have the right kind of planning and organization skills as well as standing in the community that the advisory commission needs as we look to help ensure that the memorial stays on track for a September 11, 2011 dedication. We look forward to working with them,” said John Reynolds, chair, Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission.
“The task force enthusiastically recommended both Henry Cook and Michael Walther to the advisory commission. Henry Cook is a devoted member of the community, a terrific executive and a great supporter of the memorial. Michael Walther is well known for his management skills and ability to get things done. We know they will help us meet the nation’s commitment to build an inspiring memorial worthy of the Flight 93 heroes,” said Patrick White, co-chair, Flight 93 Memorial Task Force and vice president, Families of Flight 93.
G. Henry Cook is a fifth generation member of a legendary Somerset banking family that began the Somerset Trust in 1889. He has been the president and CEO since 1988 and chairman since 1995. Cook is a committed community member, whose awards include Somerset County’s Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Person of the Year and both Somerset Jaycee and Boy Scout Man of the Year.
The Pennsylvania Business Central has named him one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the Region” for multiple years. He has already provided valuable service to the memorial as a member of the design jury and as the memorial’s local fund drive chairman.
Attorney Michael F. Walther has established himself as a skillful leader known for reinvigorating under performing federal programs and an influential voice in the interagency area in his 18 years with the U.S. Justice Department. He has served as the National Drug Intelligence Center Director in Johnstown, PA since August 2005. Previous Justice Department positions include director of the Law and Order Task Force in Baghdad al-Rusafa, Iraq and Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Louisiana. Mr. Walther also served as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Reserves.
Congress authorized the establishment of the 15-member Flight 93 Federal Advisory Commission, which includes the National Park Service Director or his designee, as part of the federal act that created the memorial. The commissioners were named based on recommendations made by the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force. The Task Force is a grassroots organization whose membership includes Flight 93 family members, memorial-area community residents, first responders, educators, and other local, regional and national participants.
On Sept. 24, 2002, Congress passed the Flight 93 National Memorial Act. The Act created a new national park unit to commemorate the passengers and crew of Flight 93 who, on Sept. 11, 2001, courageously gave their lives thereby thwarting a planned attack on our nation’s capital. The memorial is outside Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where Flight 93 crashed with the loss of its 40 passengers and crew. For more information about the Flight 93 National Memorial, please visit www.nps.gov/flni.
Did You Know?
The memorial's oral history collection now contains oral histories from more than 815 people with a direct connection to Flight 93.