Greetings Me Droogs N Droogettes!
A sad day in Memoria:
“December 12, 1985 – Arrow Air Flight 1285, a McDonnell Douglas DC-8, crashes after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland, killing all 256 people on board, including 236 members of the United States Army’s 101st Airborne Division.”
38 years ago, a planeload of Troops of 3rd Batt, 502nd Airborne of my alma mater the 101st Airborne Division were on their way home from having served six months in the Sinai Desert under the Multinational Force and Observers task force… the Orange Beret mission…
In total, the DotMil had 248 pax on board, and 8 crew.
They were probably excited to be almost home for Christmas. I know I would have been. Some were going home to Family, some friends, all would have been happy AF being that the MFO tour purely sucks.
Unfortunately they never made it…
The Gander memorial – Task Force 3-502nd Memorial Park – was built and sat on the peninsula between the post’s Screaming Eagle and Normandy boulevards. They moved it in 2019… the memorial, started by a 15 year old girl from Canada, Janice Nikkel, an Oakville, Ontario native had an idea to plant a tree for each fallen troop.
“I wrote a letter to our big Toronto Star newspaper and said I would like to donate my babysitting money to [buy trees] to plant as a living memorial to these Soldiers who died in our country,” she said. “I thought ‘I’m 15 years old, what can I do’. But it was something.”
The idea took off, and that ‘something’ a year later turned into a pretty significant memorial. 256 Canadian Maple Trees – 8 for every crew member that perished, and 248 to represent every Soldier from “The Deuce” that died. Each tree had a brick with the name of the person who died carved into it was set in the memorial.
Unfortunately, as the base has grown exponentially, and that area became ‘prime real estate’ so to speak they had to move the memorial, and start over. The trees were ‘harvested’ (i.e. cut down) and a new set planted at the new location.
So, take a moment and say a lil prayer for them.
Those and others who won’t be home for Christmas.
Now or Ever.