Link to September 11 motivated new chief of nonprofit Friends of Flight 93

Mary Pickels Trib Total Media

Henry Scully easily recalls where he was on September 11, 2001.

Then an insurance broker in Bermuda, his employer had written the insurance for the World Trade Center.

Henry Scully, new executive director of Friends of Flight 93. Photo: Evan Sanders Trib Total Media

Henry Scully, new executive director of Friends of Flight 93. Photo: Evan Sanders Trib Total Media

“The first two minutes (of the terrorist attacks) I watched on a little black and white television in our break room. Two minutes later I realized, ‘We placed the insurance for that,’ ” he said.

A native of Western Pennsylvania, he soon learned that a fourth plane, United Airlines Flight 93, had crashed in Somerset County.

“You had the emotional side of it. Then I’m there (in Bermuda) trying to figure out policy coverage for the disaster,” he said.

Scully, 55, is now executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Flight 93 National Memorial.

The Friends group was established in 2009 to work with the National Park Service at the memorial near Shanksville. Flight 93 crashed into a nearby field as some of the 40 passengers and crew struggled with terrorist hijackers who planned to use the aircraft in an attack on the nation’s capital. Everyone aboard was killed.

The group focuses on awareness, education, volunteer support, preservation and stewardship.

Scully, a resident of both O’Hara Township and Ligonier, began volunteering at the memorial as a greeter more than a year ago.

“I had the time and I was very passionate about the story and these heroes,” he said.

After working in the brokerage world for years in New York, Boston and Bermuda, Scully said he was ready to move into the “philanthropic world.”

“Then I heard about the opening for executive director,” he said.

Scully’s work site includes groves of recently planted trees, rising buildings and frequent visits from Flight 93 family members.

“Every day is different and every day is stimulating. It’s a wonderful, reflective site we can’t take for granted,” he said.

Scully’s strong business background stood out during the hiring process, said Lladel Lighty, Friends’ board president.

“As a volunteer organization, and going to the next level, we felt like we needed that business background. His regional knowledge and contacts are also important. We have a lot of volunteers from Westmoreland County and the Pittsburgh area,” she said.

His passion for the memorial and its story was apparent, Lighty said.

“And he has great people skills. When you are working with volunteers, that’s very important,” she said.

Scully and his siblings grew up in a family whose members valued public service and led by example.

His late father, Arthur M. Scully Jr., was a trustee or board member with numerous nonprofits and churches in Pittsburgh and Ligonier.

“He definitely instilled that in us, in terms of giving back. My dad really encouraged us to do that,” he said.

Scully also serves as trustee secretary with Fort Ligonier.

“I love history. Dad was on the board,” he said.

His mother, Eleanor Foster, a Ligonier resident, remains active with philanthropic endeavors, Scully said.

In his six months on the job, Scully witnessed the September 11 posthumous presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the flight’s passengers and crew, assisted administrative efforts after an Oct. 3 fire damaged three-quarters of staff and memorial office space, and started preparing for the planned September opening of new visitor and learning centers.

The Friends recently launched a website,, which will update the more than 300 members and the public on upcoming events.

Some activities, including a tree-trimming effort and cleaning of the white marble Wall of Names, are strictly Friends’ efforts.

The annual April tree planting is one of the popular events open to the public.

“Last year we had 500 volunteers,” Scully said.

Later this year, the Friends will hold a memorial walk to raise money for walking trails that will be developed at the site.

As construction continues on the visitors and education centers, the Friends are working with the National Park Service on curriculum development and a speaker series.

“It’s so important to educate the next generation about what happened here 14 years ago. … It’s modern history, recent history,” Scully said.

The Flight 93 story remains raw, still on the surface for many visitors, he said, even if they don’t say a word.

“As a greeter, you always see people walking out with tears in their eyes. Something struck a chord,” Scully said.

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