By Sgt. David L. Cox, 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public AffairsDecember 16, 2013
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Strike," 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), held a remembrance ceremony here, Dec. 12, to honor the victims of the tragic accident in 1985, that resulted in the loss of 248 Soldiers and eight crewmembers.
The ceremony marked the 28th anniversary of the deadly crash near Gander International Airport, Newfoundland, Canada.
Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. were returning from a six-month deployment as a part of the Multi-National Force and Observers.
The unit deployed to the Sinai Peninsula, between the borders of Egypt and Israel, to monitor the demilitarized zone between the countries, ensuring there were no cross-border incursions on either side.
"Their loss is a somber reminder of the price that the nation's Soldiers pay for our freedom. The 502nd Soldiers died while serving; while providing for our national security," said Col. Peter N. Benchoff, commander of 2nd BCT, during his speech. "Strike Soldiers today are shaped by the legacy of the Gander era. Their loss and their service is manifest today in how we train for war, how we fight the enemies of our country, and how we care for each other and our Families."
In addition to the on-post memorial ceremony, another ceremony was held in Hopkinsville, Ky.
"The event that day was heartbreaking. As dear Bob Carter said, 'they died to heal a broken world,'" said Mrs. T.C. Freeman, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army, during her speech at the Fort Campbell Memorial Park in Hopkinsville. "Now 28 years later, in this place of peace, we celebrate the lives of those who died that day and rededicate the Fort Campbell Memorial Park, to all Soldiers and their Families that have served and will serve at Fort Campbell, Kentucky."
The Soldiers of Fort Campbell and surrounding communities expressed the importance of remembering this event and reflecting on the sacrifice of the MNF Soldiers.
Benchoff said, "although it has now been twenty-eight years since the accident, this loss still unites us all. We all cope with loss and grieve as individuals through our values and faith, but we continue to be united as a community. The Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and our friends in Clarksville and Hopkinsville continue to honor the families affected by Gander tragedy."