At first glance, John Gajweski, a resident of Better Tomorrows’ Park Plaza community in Tuckerton, NJ, appears like any other chap you may meet. Behind the quiet façade, however, there is another side to John – John the hero.
Prior to moving to Park Plaza, John was employed by New York Waterway which provides ferry and other maritime transportation in the Manhattan area. On a typical day in January 2009, John plied the Hudson River as he had done so many times. However, what happened next was anything but typical when a large, commercial airliner crash landed in the Hudson River. Many of you have may have heard this story (and/or seen the movie), because we are talking about none other than US Air Flight 1549 which struck a flock of geese upon takeoff, lost power and was safely landed in the Hudson River by Captain Sullenberger.
What does John have to do with this you ask? A great deal actually because the ferry John was on that day was one of the first to reach the stricken liner and its passengers. John played an integral role in helping to rescue the passengers and crew of Flight 1549 and ensuring their safety. Though this experience, John developed friendships with many of the passengers as well with Captain Sullenberger.
To honor this quiet hero, Park Plaza gave him a special showing of the movie “Sully”, starring Tom Hanks, which recounts the story of Flight 1549. For the event, Park Plaza transformed its community room into a movie theater filled with popcorn and other delights. To add a special touch to the event, John wore the exact same uniform, hat and coat he wore on the day Flight 1549 went down.
As if saving lives was not enough, John has a couple of other fascinating things going on as well. As is typical of his giving heart, John provides transportation for other seniors and Meals on Wheels. If that weren’t enough, John also volunteers for Macy’s annual Thanksgiving parade where he can be seen holding the lines of the large balloons. So, the next time you are at Park Plaza or at the Macy’s parade, be sure to say “hi” to John and give him a hug.