Advertisement

'He was afraid of no man': Police detective remembers brother killed on 9/11

"I don't look at the fifth, the 10th or the 20th anniversary — they're all the same to me, he's just not here."

Advertisement

A Maryland police detective is remembering his older brother with tremendous fondness and respect as the nation prepares to mark 20 years since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Louis Joseph "Joey" Nacke II celebrated his 42nd birthday and prepared for a business trip as director of warehousing for KB Toys. Unbeknownst to him, he was booked on United Airlines Flight 93 with four hijackers who boarded the plane with knives and box cutters.

Nacke, a father of two from New Hope, Pennsylvania, rarely traveled for work, except on Sept. 11, 2001. He was the big-hearted oldest brother of four siblings. He grew up to become the best man at his younger brother's wedding.

Like so many, Joey Nacke's younger brother, Baltimore County police Detective Ken Nacke, remembers 9/11 beginning with the bluest of blue skies and then the color fading fast when his wife called with word that Joey Nacke might have been on the plane that went down in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"As my shift went on, the hair on the back of my neck started tingling, and you get that pit in your stomach like something is missing," Ken Nacke said. "I don't look at the fifth, the 10th or the 20th anniversary — they're all the same to me, he's just not here."

Flight 93 carried 33 passengers and seven crew members who voted to fight back against hijackers who were seeking to crash the jet in Washington, D.C.

Joey Nacke wasn't one of the passengers who phoned loved ones aboard the plane, but his brother believes Joey Nacke's final actions were no less important or brave.

"Honestly, he was afraid of no man. But I think his drive that day would just be to get home and have dinner with his family, nothing more, nothing less," Ken Nacke said.

Ken Nacke, who always felt so protected by his big brother, sought to protect his memory and the memory of Flight 93 by helping plan the permanent memorial in Shanksville, a place that speaks to him every time he visits.

"You look around with the people surrounding you and you get that feeling, what happens if I was on Flight 93? And I'm looking around, could I have done what they did? Would I have done what they did?" Ken Nacke said.

Twenty years later, a brother remembers his best man, a man who he knows did his best on that September day that started so blue.

"The most important thing, especially in today's environment, is that the story of Flight 93 is even more important than 40 individuals from all walks, (who) were able to put everything aside and come together as one," Ken Nacke said. "They gave their lives so we can live our lives like it's Sept. 10."

The exact target of Flight 93 is not known for sure — perhaps the White House, the Capitol or, it's even speculated, nuclear power plants. The debris field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, covered nearly 8 miles. The memorial site covers more than 2,200 acres.