258 die in plane crash
Victims mainly U.S. soldiers
Associated Press GANDER, Newfoundland - A DC-8 charter full of U.S.
soldiers returning from the Middle East crashed on takeoff and exploded
Thursday near Gander International Airport, killing all 258 aboard and
scattering gifts and weapons across snow-covered woods.
Families and friends learned of the disaster as they assembled for
a brass-band welcome at the headquarters of the 101st Airborne Division
at Fort Campbell, Ky., but carried on with plans for a Christmas music
concert as a tribute to the dead.
Airport employees recalled hearing the exuberant Americans singing
carols as they crowded into the duty-free shop. "Just about every one of
them bought some little thing to take back home," said cashier Cynthia
Goodyear. "They were just so happy to be going home."
Cause of the 5:15 a.m. EST crash remained under investigation, but
the White House said preliminary reports showed no indication of
sabotage or an in-flight explosion in history's eighth-worst aviation
The charred cockpit voice and flight recorders were recovered and
were taken to Ottawa for analysis, said Peter Boag of the Canadian
Aviation Safety Board, who was directing the investigation.
Boag's deputy, Dave Owen, said late Thursday night that 40 percent
of the bodies had been recovered. He described the flight recorders as
being "in relatively good shape."
The charter flight operated by Arrow Air of Miami carried members
of the 101st Airborne who were being rotated home after six months
service in the multi-national peacekeeping force in Egypt's Sinai
Military authorities said it might take a
day or two to notify all the next-of-kin, as as long as a week to
CBC television showed debris smoldering in the snow beneath tall
evergreens in sparse, hilly woods where the plane went down about a
half-mile from the runway near Gander Lake.
Airport manager John Pitman said the aircraft carried 101,000
pounds of fuel on takeoff.
Roads to the airport were blocked and emergency vehicles with
yellow lights flashing stood by as shivering rescue workers searched in
vain for survivors. Smoke lingered in the air hours after the crash.
"There was a flash, just like a sunburst," said Judy Parsons, a car
rental agent who witnessed the crash from the Gander parking lot. "It
lasted for just two seconds and then I heard an explosion. There was a
lot of black smoke."
[Florida Today, Cocoa, FL, 13 Dec 1985, Fri, Main Edition, Page 26]
[Jumpmaster Note: Command Sgt. Maj. Haslund O. Black,
was among the soldiers who died, along with eight Arrow Air crew
members It was the worse loss of U.S. military life in an air disaster.]
HOPKINSVILLE The funeral for Command Sgt Maj. Haslund O. Black, 47, will be at 11 a.m. Friday at St John United Methodist Church. Visitation at Hughart-Beard Funeral Home will be after 6 p.m. Thursday. He died Dec 12 in the airplane crash in Newfoundland. His wife, Goldie Ann, survives. He was posthumously awarded the Legion of Merit and held several other medals including the Bronze Star, Air Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart
[The Courier-Journal, Louisville, KY, 02 Jan 1986, Thu, Late Kentucky
Edition, Page 7]
[courtesy of Angela Short Hudson]
Grave marker for Haslund O. Black in Section 04 Site 104,
Kentucky Veterans Cemetery, West Hopkinsville (Christian county),
Sgt Black was transferred to Company A, 508th PIR from
the Third Replacement Depot on 9 Feb 1945 while the company was ion
R&R in Stavelot, Belgium.
Although nothing is known of his service prior to
joining the 508th, his timing was excellent as the regiment moved to
Sissonne, France three weeks later and saw no further combat duty.
Hilton's military decorations include the Combat
Infantryman Badge for action during the campaign, 18 December 1944 to 20
February 1945, effective 15 Feb 1945.