Mrs. Padre are on our way home from vacation today, after two pleasant weeks. Once I get home I will try to post on some of the cool things I saw in Newfoundland (there were a few glimpses in my running posts), but one thing I wanted to share was my visit to an obscure spot just south of the Trans Canada Highway in Gander, Newfoundland. When I saw the sign to the turnoff, I suddenly remembered the story breaking 26 years ago, and I felt I wanted to make the pilgrimage.
Once Gander was a major hub for military and civilian aviation transiting the North Atlantic. It was during that era that the worst air disaster in Canadian and US military history occurred there on 12 December, 1985, when an Arrow Air flight carrying members of the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division crashed there early on a winter morning.
Driving downhill along a gravel road leading towards Gander Lake, we came across this quiet park, hidden amidst the trees.
A plaque marks the 256 US soldiers and aircrew who perished in the crash. There were no survivors. The plaque was placed there by personnel of the RCAF’s 9 Wing, CFB Gander, in 1995.
A monument at the site shows a US soldier of the era flanked by two children, symbolizing the peacekeeping mission that the 101st was returning from at the time.
This may seem like an odd post to write just an hour before I get on the plane, but the serenity of the place on a summer afternoon, combined with the tragedy of so many deaths of those returning for Christmas leave, made a deep impression on me. If you are ever passing through Gander and have a minute to visit the spot, I think you will feel the same emotions.
Rest eternal grant to them, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon them.
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