In Memory of the Sago Mining Disaster

Miner's Memorial

I remember it as if it was yesterday.  Although I did not know the men involved, their families, or even been to their town, I felt their sorrow in the deep pits of my soul.   I truly felt their ups and downs, I prayed for days,  I mourned and I got physically ill. That’s something that bonds all people from mining communities no matter where they are located.  Mining tragedies, no matter who is involved or where they happen, hit home to all miners and their families everywhere because we are all connected on some level to one another. 

I’ll never forget January 2nd, 2006 and the days that followed as long as I live.  I was sitting in my living room glued to the tv, tears rolling down my face as I heard of the 13 men trapped in the Sago mine after an explosion.  I prayed over and over for a safe, happy outcome.  I watched as the news showed as much as they could of the rescue effort and my heart broke for the families who gathered at the little church, much like the one I grew up in, praying for their fathers, husbands, sons and friends, the backbone of their families and community, to come home safely.

I thanked God and cried when the news came that all 13 miners had been found alived.  I cried again as the families were told that the initial news had been a mistake and 12 miners had gone to meet their Lord.  My heart broke when I heard of the letters that they left in their dinner buckets for their families.  That just goes to show you that miners are a special breed, they are God-fearing and family oriented.  Even thought they knew they were facing imminent death, they thought of their loved ones on the outside and put them first.  Their last minutes were spent writing notes to their families.  That is love and dedication.  That is the backbone of America! 

I continued to pray for the family members who had lost their loved ones.  I also prayed for the one lone miner who survived, Randal McCloy.  He had a wife and young children and it was uncertain if he was revived that he would live or that his life would go much farther than being a vegetable.  But miners are tough and Randal fought and won.  He won for himself and for his mining brothers.  He won for his family and the families of his mining comrades who died.  He won despite the odds. 

I’ve often wondered what those last minutes under ground were like.  I honestly believe that they died peacefully.  I envision that an angel visited with them and carried them home in his arms, away from the darkness of the underground mine into the beautiful lights of Heaven.  They faced death with a great amount of dignity and self-sacrifice and I can’t help but think that God made their last trip special.

I would like to dedicate this posting to not only the miners who lost their lives on that horrible, horrible day, but to their families as well.  Even though I do not know you, I feel bonded to you.  You see, I almost lost my father on two occasions to mining accidents.  He is blind in one eye, deaf in one ear and no longer has reflexes.  Mining takes so much from families sometimes.  It makes men old before their time and sometimes takes them from us and yet, knowing all of this, they lay their life on the line for us, for their families, to make our lives better and to provide a good living for those they love.  You see, mining families are always attached, you were not alone during those dark days, all mining families were with you, cried with you, prayed for you and loved you all.  We still pray for you and love you.  Thank you for your sacrifice and may your loved ones rest in peace.

To Randal McCloy, Jr. and his family: You are an inspiration to everyone.  You are God’s miracle.  I am so glad that you are still here to share in the lives of your wife and children.  I would like to honor you as well.

The Fallen of the Sago Mining Disaster: May They Rest in Peace

  • Tom Anderson, 39, of Rock Cave
  • Alva â??Martyâ?? Bennett, 51, of Buckhannon
  • Jim Bennett, 61, of Phillippi
  • Jerry Groves, 56, of Cleveland, W.Va.
  • George Junior Hamner, 54, of Gladyfork
  • Terry Helms, 50, of Newburg
  • Jesse Jones, 44, of Pickens
  • David Lewis, 28, of Phillippi
  • Martin Toler Jr., 51, of Flatwoods
  • Fred Ware Jr., 58, of Tallmansville
  • Jackie Weaver, 51, of Phillippi
  • Marshall Winans, 50, of Talbert
  • One thought on “In Memory of the Sago Mining Disaster

    • November 8, 2009 at 1:21 pm

      I know how it feels to go through things like this. I am a retired coal miner of 35 years. I worked for 18 year in a Mine in Brookwood Alabama, and on Sept 23, 2001 a massive explosion happened at JWR #5 Coal Mine. I knew several of the men that were killed in that explosion. One of the men was a close family friend.
      The event of 9/11 kept this from being on the news, as most of the news at that time was taking place in New York, Washington DC and the Plane Crash Site in Pa.

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