Fallen steel workers remembered; AEIF pays tribute to 98 from
AK, ArmcoBy Craig J. Heimbuch, Journal Staff Writer, E-mail:
For the 12th year, candles were lit Monday at AEIF headquarters
to remember those Armco and AK Steel workers who died on the job.
Red, white and purple carnations adorned linen-covered tables in
the meeting room of the Crawford Street home of the Armco Employees
A table was covered in 98 white candles, one for each worker who
has died, by the union’s count, in or after on-the-job accidents.
The AEIF represents more than 3,000 workers at AK’s Middletown
The remembrance went from Joseph Berry, who died Nov. 12, 1903,
to Rick Felton, a contractor who died Dec. 5, 1996.
Some 35 people were gathered to honor each individual, AEIF
Safety Chairman Rick Combs said. Also remembered were Cincinnati
firefighter Oscar Armstrong III, who died in action March 20, and
the 164 servicemen and women who lost their lives since that date in
Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We search for an appropriate way to honor them,” Combs said,
adding that along with remembrance, it was important to offer
compassion for those left behind.
“It is one thing to remember them,” said Pastor Shawn Watson, of
Northside Baptist Church in Lebanon. “It’s another thing to pay
tribute to them ... Be humble in remembering them.”
There are 86 names of Armco and AK employees on a plaque hung in
the room and 12 more of contractors who died while working in
Middletown. Ed Reynolds, business agent of the Pipefitters and
Mechanical Equipment Services, Local 392, said he will never forget
when the names of three of his friends found places on the plaque.
“April 20, 1994, is a day I’ll never forget,” Reynolds said. “I
remember where I was Nov. 22, 1963, when (President John F.) Kennedy
was killed, and I remember where I was that day.
Reynolds said AK and other companies have made great strides in
“Hopefully,” he said, before reading names of 12 contractors,
“these will be the only candles we ever have to light.”
Their names were read at a slow, uneven cadence, like a funeral
march, as candles were lit and a single chime sounded for each.
While Middletown firefighter Tommy Allen played taps on a trumpet
outside the union hall’s front door, some in attendance bowed their
heads in prayer; others closed their eyes; and still others adopted
a thoughtful stare.