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In memoriam / Beyond the names of a catastrophe

Ernest West -- "Ernie" to those who knew him -- was used to flying for his job.

West, 54, was deputy director for business development at Northrop Grumman Amherst Systems, a unit of the leading defense contractor. His business trips took him regularly to Europe and Australia.

But he much preferred spending time with his family in their Clarence home on Greiner Road or having weekly breakfasts at a local restaurant with Summer, his 2-year-old daughter born to wife Jennifer during the October Storm.

West also liked grilling in the backyard, landscaping the house and swimming laps in his pool.

West previously worked 22 years as a marketing manager and systems manager for Sierra Research Corp. in Buffalo. Before that, he was an electronic warfare and ground-directed bombing specialist for the Air Force in the 1970s while stationed in North Dakota, Louisiana, Montana and South Korea.

While in South Korea, he also served six months as a field operative with the Office of Special Investigation looking into South Korea's black market on drugs.

-- Mark Sommer

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George Abu Karam, 29, of Tiberias, Israel, was flying to Buffalo to visit his cousin, according to the Israeli media.

Abu Karam first arrived in the lakeside city of Tiberias in 2000, when Israeli troops pulled out of southern Lebanon and many members of the South Lebanon Army fled after them, fearing retribution if they stayed behind, a friend, Aviv Omer, told Israel Radio.

"He was an amazing person, and he acclimated himself quickly in Israel," a friend told the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. "You could say that he didn't just fit in, he led," Omer told the radio station. "He was always surrounded by friends, always smiling. He had presence. He was a big man. He worked as a security guard after the SLA. He always tried to look tough and project confidence, but inside he had a heart as soft as butter, a heart of gold."

Laizer Labkovski, a rabbi with the Chabad movement in Buffalo, said Abu Karam's cousin was at the airport to pick up Abu Karam when he learned of the Flight 3407 crash. Another Israeli living in the United States, who has not yet been identified, was killed in the crash, Ha'aretz reported.

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Sean Lang, 19, of Montgomeryville, Pa., was flying into Buffalo to visit his girlfriend, according to the Bucks County Courier-Times.

"He was incredibly loved," his brother, Lonnie Cooper, told the newspaper. "He was an incredibly cool guy. All of his friends looked up to him as a leader."

Lang was a student at Penn State University, and had not yet declared a major, his brother told the paper.

"He was a huge Penn State fan," who also loved the Philadelphia Eagles and the Phillies, Cooper said.

"He was into living life to the fullest," he said.

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