I just received an email from NewspaperARCHIVE pointing me to the Stars and Stripes European edition for December 21, 1988. I couldn’t see which articles were included in the message, but the date sent a shiver up my spine. It was the day that Pan Am flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland. Why do I know this? We were stationed in Germany at that time. People from our unit were on that flight – headed home for the holidays. It was a shock to people in the U.S. but it was very personal to every military family stationed in Europe at the time. We were well aware of the terrorist threat we faced daily, but most of our threats were from European groups. This was something very different – and very frightening.
We would leave Germany in 1989 – on the Fourth of July. There was a threat alert regarding a possible attempt to shoot down an American flight leaving Frankfurt on that day. Fortunately nothing happened to mar our trip home and we were delighted to celebrate at least part of that Independence Day in Charleston, South Carolina. Fireworks never looked so good!
Stars and Stripes wouldn’t report the tragedy until the next day’s edition, but to this day December 21st is a day of mourning to those of us who lost friends, co-workers and family flying home for the holidays.