NEW BERN, CRAVEN COUNTY - With Wednesday marking 12 years since the 9/11 attacks that claimed almost 3,000 lives, NewsChannel 12 talked with a local man whose friend was on one of the hijacked planes.
"It wasn't until the next night I learned that a good friend of mine was a co-pilot on that plane," said New Bern resident Bill Franchi.
Franchi said his Marine Corps brother and comrade, 38-year-old Mike Horrocks, was the co-pilot of United Airlines 175, the second plane to crash into the towers at the World Trade Center complex in New York City. Horrocks was a Cherry Point Marine.
"A wonderful friend, very personable, had a sense of humor like you wouldn't believe," Franchi said of Horrocks
Franchi told NewsChannel 12 he will never forget the phone call that informed him of his friend's death.
"He says, 'Hey, I got some new for you. It's about Mike Horrocks.' He didn't have to say anything else because I knew Mike was a pilot with United Airlines," Franchi explained with tears in his eyes.
Each year on Sept. 11, Franchi reflects on the good times he shared with Horrocks.
"I put up the Marine Corps flag twice a year- the Marine Corps birthday and Mike's passing," Franchi said.
Franchi said he remembers watching the twin towers being built while growing up in northern New Jersey.
"And to see them come down within the course of 15 minutes- it was really hard, really hard to take," Franchi said.
Franchi was in the Marine Corps for 23 years. He has since retired and is a captain for Southwest Airlines.
"When we're flying past where the World Trade Center was, and now to see the new World Trade Center, you know I can't help but look down and think about Mike and the firemen, the police men and the average citizens who just went to work that day and never came home," Franchi said.