The following is a list of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were killed in the crash of an Arrow commercial jet liner in Gander, Newfoundland, December 12, 1985, and buried at Arlington National Cemetery
(Courtesy Of The Military District Of Washington)
A somber anniversary was marked in Gander, Newfoundland Monday, 20 years after 256 people — mostly American soldiers returning from a peacekeeping mission — were killed there.
Members of the U.S. military, alongside representatives of the U.S. Embassy and Canadian Forces attended a memorial service and wreath-laying ceremony at the crash site in Gander Monday.
And south of the border, the U.S. Army honored its fallen soldiers with military and civil memorial ceremonies at the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. as well as at Kentucky's Fort Campbell and Hopkinsville park.
The ceremonies commemorate the crash of an Arrow Air charter plane, shortly after taking off from Gander International Airport on Dec. 12, 1985.
Reminiscing about a close friend he lost that day, U.S. Army Major Alex Conyers expressed his thanks to the people of Newfoundland.
“I would just like to take this moment to thank the town of Gander and its wonderful people for all that you did 20 years ago,” he said.
“Thank you for what you continue to do over the years to honour the brothers, the uncles, the fathers, the sons of that tragic accident.”
In his remarks, Gander Mayor Claude Elliott regretted that it took such tragedies as the Arrow Air crash, or the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to forge a strengthening bond with the United States.
“As a community we try to help, and that was I guess the most frustrating part as a community, there was very little we could do with all those men and women who perished in that crash,” Elliott said.
“We did not know any of them by name, we didn't know any of them at all, but as a community we sense the great loss.”
Packed with eight civilian crew and 248 American soldiers from the 101st Airborne division, the DC-8 had stopped to refuel in Gander as it made the journey to Kentucky for Christmas after a six-month deployment in Sinai.
The soldiers, most of whom were with the division's 502nd Infantry Regiment, had been in Sinai ensuring compliance with the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
But, about a minute after it took off, the plane crashed and was quickly engulfed in flames burning through 45,000 kilograms of jet fuel.
Joe McGuire, then the assistant commander for the RCMP in Gander, remembers rushing to the crash site.
“When I got down there it was still burning and everything was black,” McGuire told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from Gander.
“There were bodies in the lower part of the site laying everywhere. Most of them were badly burnt.”
The crash remains the worst aviation disaster in Canadian history and the worst U.S. military air disaster.
In 1988, after a three-year investigation conducted with the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board released its official report that determined ice on the plane probably caused the disaster.
But the findings have been disputed through the years by the victim's family members who contend questions remain about the plane's maintenance or the possibility of a terrorist attack.
“I hope the truth comes out before I die,” Christine Manion from Franklin, Tenessee, whose husband Captain Edward Manion perished in the crash told The Dickson-Herald.
“It made a mess out of my life for many years. It's all so haunting to me. It doesn't really seem like 20 years to me, it seems like only five. Everything after the Gander crash has been compressed. It's still like it just happened.”
Sgt. Christopher Thornton — 1 July 1961 — 27 Dec. 1985 — Takoma Park, Md.
Sp4 Edward Beer — 30 March 1966 — 30 Dec. 1985 — Orlando, Fla.
Sgt. Robert S. Hoyer — 4 Oct. 1959 — 31 Dec. 1985 — Pasadena, Md.
Sp4 Darrin P. Brady — 26 Jan. 1966 — 3 Jan. 86 — Brunswick, Ohio
Pfc. William W. Hansen III — 21 March 1985 — 6 Jan. 1986 — Stafford, Va.
CW4 Robert A. Bowen — 6 Jan. 1948 — 24 Jan. 1986 — Clarksville, Tenn.
Sp4 Kelly Graham — 8 July 1966 — 19 Feb. 1986 — San Jose, Calif.
Sp4 William M. Lloyd — 23 March 1964 21 — Feb. 1986 — Philadelphia, Pa.
Pfc. Trevor Campbell — 6 Feb. 1967 — 21 Feb. 1986 — Brooklyn, N.Y.
First Lt. John B. Witmer — 1 June 191962 — 24 Feb. 1986 — Northbrook, Ill.
Sgt. Thomas L. Graham — 8 May 58 — 25 Feb. 1986 — Jacksonville, Fla.
Staff Sgt. James A. Ferguson — 2 Nov. 1955 — 25 Feb. 1986 — Orange Park, Fla.
Sgt. David Fitch — 6 Jan 1965 — 26 Feb. 1986 — Washington, D.C.
Sgt. Matthew C. Sloan — 22 Jan. 1962 — 26 Feb. 1986 — Lakewood, Colo.
Staff Sgt. Darnell L. Wilburn — 4 Jan. 1954 — 26 Feb. 1986 — Cincinnati, Ohio
Sp4 Anthony Gayton — 27 Feb. 1964 — 27 Feb. 1986 — Robbins, Ill.
Staff Sgt. Paul C. Hemingway — 22 Feb. 1957 — 27 Feb. 1986 — Brooklyn, N.Y.
Sgt. Todd Jennings — 31 Jan. 1965 — 4 March 1986– Yonkers, N.Y.
Sgt. Donald E. Hobbs — 26 Oct. 1960 — 10 March 1986 — Palm Harbor, Fla.
Capt. Brian D. Haller — 19 Aug. 1959 — 3 Jan. 1986 — Clarksville, Tenn.
Sgt. Michael L. Whiteman — 29 Aug. 1961 — 3 Jan. 1986 — Dunkirk, Md.
Sp4 Frederic C. Seitz — 28 July 1963 — 3 Jan. 1986 — Aurora, Ohio
Sgt. Stephen R. Colby — 30 March 1964 — 3 Jan. 1986 — Colonial Beach, Va.
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard