GANDER, NL – A small crowd gathered at the Gander Heritage Memorial Park and braved sub-zero temperature to remember those killed 32 years ago this month on Arrow Air Flight 1285.
On Dec. 12. 1985, all 248 members of the U.S. military 101st Airborne Division and eight crew members aboard the jetliner perished less than a minute after taking off from Gander International Airport.
All members of the 101st Airborne Division were on their way back to their base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky after completing a six-month deployment in Sinai, Egypt.
Scott Sheppard was 30 years old and worked on the military base doing design drawings at the time of the crash.
He remembers the day vividly.
“The weather was just like today, with very little snow on the ground, about the same temperature, overcast, with a bit of rain.
“I went in to work at 8 o’clock, and at ten-past-eight, they told us that the plane crashed. Nobody was allowed on the site except for the military police and firefighters.
“They had the rest of the area cordoned off,” he said. “It was pretty sad.”
Ray Reiser served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years. He now lives in St. John’s but travelled to Gander to pay his respects.
Finding it hard to describe the event that took place decades ago, Reiser said, “it is hard to say you know – it is just a terrible disaster.”