HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (WKRN) — It’s been 37 years since 248 soldiers and eight crew members died in a plane crash. The soldiers were headed back to Fort Campbell from Egypt following a peace-keeping mission.
Arrow Air Flight 1285 went down shortly after take-off in Newfoundland, Canada in Gander on Dec. 12, 1985. Everyone on board died.
On the 37th anniversary of the tragedy, the Hopkinsville community gathered at the Gander Memorial Park to honor the soldiers and their families.
Naomi Hemingway’s husband, Sgt. First Class Paul C. Hemingway, was supposed to come home on the first plane back in 1985, but instead boarded flight 1285.
“When I found out (about the crash), all I remember is I ended up on the floor,” Naomi said. “I was pretty much done.”
Naomi has tried to attend the Hopkinsville memorial every year, but she honors her late husband daily.
“All the time I wear his pins, I adopted, and they have his name, my grandkids, they have his name, so he’s going to always live on,” Naomi said.
During the ceremony, which happened at the time of the crash at 12:12 p.m., families placed a gold star next to their loved one’s name etched in the stone memorial.
Christian County Chamber of Commerce President Taylor Hayes told News 2 the Fort Campbell area is tight-knit, which is why the community hosts the memorial event.
“This is like family to us,” Hayes said. “We need to remember these individuals from now on, and this is why every year we take time to honor these individuals who died serving our country, but also to honor those families who have been left behind.”
Even though Dec. 12 is a somber day, Naomi still finds a reason to smile. Eight years ago, her granddaughter was born on the anniversary of her late husband’s death.
“It’s not just a total sad day,” she said. “We have to honor her birthday.”