Ray Hershel recalls his most memorable story - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Ray Hershel recalls his most memorable story

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

In April 1973, 45 years ago, a story unfolded at the Westover Air Reserve Base that had a huge impact on Ray Hershel. 

As we look back on Ray’s 50 year career, of the thousands of stories he’s covered, there’s one that stands above the rest because of the impact it had on him.

As it turned out it was probably one of the most, if not the most pivotal stories Ray Hershel said he's done in his career. 

It was early April 1973.  Ray is given one of his first TV news assignments after spending his first five years at WHYN on the radio side. 

Four B-52 Stratofortress crewmen with the 99th Bombardment Wing from Westover were shot down over Vietnam in the 1972 Christmas offensive.

[RELATED: CLICK HERE to see this 1973 story, as well more video and pictures form Ray's career]

After spending 101 days as prisoners of war in Hanoi, they were released and coming home.

"The story had everything in terms of a TV story.  It had emotion, it had drama, it had major importance - all that coming together on a tarmac that night.  When that plane stopped and the veterans, POWs started coming down the steps, the people started rushing towards the plane to hug their loved ones.  It was an overwhelming experience as a reporter and certainly someone who was there as well and when that plane finally landed and started to taxi over to where we were, the feeling was just incredible, the emotion just spread.  I had never felt anything like that before, covering a story.  You had that sense that this is going to be something very big, something special.  I think that story helped me really understand what good television news could portray to the people who are watching because of the raw emotion that only TV can capture," Ray explained.

Ray has covered thousands of stories, but said that this one sticks with him to this day for a couple of reasons.

"Number one, it was the first major television story I had an opportunity to do, and how many people can say the first story they did was so impactful. Such a major story. So that's why it's the one to me, when you say what was the most memorable story you covered, that comes to mind automatically because it was the first story and it was so impactful," Ray noted.

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