Speaking for a full crowd at the Killinger Auditorium on Tuesday, Jackie Nink Pflung shared her amazing story of her close call to death and her rise to beat the odds that were placed on her.
After graduating high school, Pflung attended and graduated from SHSU in 1977 where she received a degree in education. As a child, Pflung said her dreams were to live overseas and to live where it snowed. These dreams came true when she decided to teach in Norway and Egypt.
On a fateful day in November 1985, Pflung boarded a flight traveling from Athens, Greece to Cairo, Egypt after a Thanksgiving weekend trip. Ten minutes after the plane left the runway, three members of the ‘Egypt Revolution’ began to wave their guns in the air as they took passengers hostage.
Pflung and two other Americans, Patrick and Scarlet, were ordered to the front of the plane.
“Every 15 minutes they would shoot people,” Pflung continued, “First Israelites and then Americans who were identified by their passports.”
Throughout the ordeal, Pflung recalls thinking that hijackings are not supposed to happen to her or the people she loves. In the midst of her worst nightmare come to life, Pflung knew that if she lived or died, she knew she would be ok.
After 15 minutes in the fourth hour, negotiations between the terrorists and the Egyptian police, Pflung was the next person in line to be executed.
“He pulled the trigger and I felt this heavy feeling in my head,” Pflung said. “I assumed I had hit heaven.”
Believing she was dead, the terrorist discarded her body from the plane to the runway. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Pflung was later rescued by paramedics who were able to take her from harms way.
Turning her hardships into help for others, Pflung says, “What first appears in our life as a major set back is a time to grow.”
When the paramedics passed their duties over to the nurses at the hospital, Flung recalls the nurse chatting with her.
“One I knew I was with the good guys, all I could think about was that I had just got a perm,” Pflung said, knowing her head would have to be shaved to retrieve the bullet and repair her damaged skull.
Waking up after surgery seems to have been the most difficult time for Pflung. Conquering a severe brain injury, the doctors informed Pflung that she would have a loss of vision, short term memory and the loss of expressive language.
After several self-determined years, Pflung was able to prove the doctors wrong as she was rehabilitated back to normal.
“I made a commitment and within two years I had my drivers license back,” Pflung said. “I believe you can get what you want and don’t sweat the small stuff.”
Being put through an ordeal such as this has made Pflung appreciate all the small things in life. Everyday in her journal, Pflung writes five things she is grateful for.
“The key to being joyful is to always be grateful,” Flung said. “Don’t get sidetracked by the things that don’t matter.”
Pflung currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and nine year-old son. Traveling the country, Pflung tells her story and gives inspiration in hopes to help others.