Trans World Airlines brotherhood still strong years after it closed

Posted at 12:56 PM, Sep 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-21 19:58:05-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - It's a reunion that brings hundreds of people together across the metro area. On the second Tuesday of every other month, hundreds of former Trans World Airlines employees converge on the Golden Corral near the Kansas City Airport.

"After all of these years, this proves we are still a family," Herman Duermyer, who worked for TWA for 37 years, said. "I don't know of any other company to go through this transition and still have this kind of rhetoric." 

TWA was a major airline before it closed in 2001, being purchased by American Airlines.  

"It was a big, big employer of Kansas City people," Edie Duncan, who worked there for 25 years, said. "Slowly over the years, we kind of just dwindled away. Now we are no more, but in our hearts, we're still TWA." 

"We had 6,000 in this area," Duermyer said. "I probably knew three-quarters of them. It was wonderful, just literally wonderful and that airline should still be flying."

One of the employees came up with the idea for the bi-monthly get together more than a decade ago and a large group turns out every single time. 

"Wherever you go you always find someone retired from TWA or American Airlines," Mario Mayorga, who retired from TWA in 1998, said. "We're still friends -- even supervisors and managers, we get together here because it was like a big family."

The group said they remain close because of the familial atmosphere TWA provided through the years.

"We had picnics, we had Christmas parties, people who worked there promoted the family atmosphere,"  Duncan said. "We built up a lot of really great friendships while we were at TWA. We were all very close." 

"It wasn't just a company or business, it was a family," Warner Schler, who worked as a mechanic there for decades, said. "We're losing a lot of our family, but it's nothing unusual to see 300 to 400 people at a visitation and I don't think you see that with other organizations." 

TWA was headquartered at one time in Kansas City, Missouri. A museum dedicated to the airline still remains in the city today.