Lee Erwin reporting
Fort Campbell, KY. – Fort Campbell held a remembrance and wreath laying ceremony Thursday, December 12 for 248 101st Soldiers who died in a plane crash on December 12, 1985 as they were returning from Sinai, Egypt. Just after take off from Gander, Newfoundland International Airport, the plane crashed, killing all of the Soldiers aboard and eight crew members.
The Soldiers, who were on a peacekeeping mission, were from several different military units at Fort Campbell, all attached to the 3rd battalion, 502 Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade “Strike”. After six months overseas, the Soldiers were on their way back home just in time for the holidays. The aircraft had made a stop over in Gander to refuel.
It was a cold morning for the crowd attending the ceremony which was made up of family members, friends and comrades of the Soldiers who were killed in the crash. A group of 248 Soldiers currently serving in the 2nd Brigade stood beside the Gander Memorial.
Colonel Peter Benchoff, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team spoke at the ceremony and said this about the fallen Soldiers. “We’ll always pause to remember those who did their utmost to secure our nation and our way of life on distant shores from continents far away and were on their way home in Gander,” Benchoff said.
Amy Gallo, a widow of one of the Soldiers, Sergeant Richard Nichols, who was killed in the crash, talked about the Soldiers attending the ceremony. “I couldn’t not come, I have to come for them. Even though I’m remarried and have other children now, it has such a huge impact on my life. To see all these men, it’s just amazing,” said Gallo.
The ceremony ended with a wreath being placed at the monument on the memorial site, a 21 gun salute and playing of taps. The Gander memorial is located between Normandy and Screaming Eagle Boulevards on Fort Campbell and contains a maple tree with a marker for each of Soldiers who lost their life in the crash.