Nfld. & Labrador

Arrow Air crash memorial revived

People in Gander have reintroduced the annual memorial ceremony for the Arrow Air crash.
People gathered on Wednesday for the revived annual memorial of the Arrow Air memorial in Gander, N.L. (CBC)

Some residents of Gander have revived the annual memorial ceremony for the Arrow Air crash.

Last year was the first time in 26 years that the service did not take place.

Now, a group of people in the town are vowing to make sure the tragedy is remembered every year.

Joe McGuire was the RCMP officer on duty when the DC-8 crashed shortly after takeoff on the morning of Dec. 12, 1985, killing all 256 American troops and crew on board.

"It was horrible," McGuire said. "I arrived about a half hour after the accident happened and there was a wall of fire ... and there were airplane parts laying everywhere, as well as victims of the crash."

A decision last year not to continue with the ceremony did not set well with many residents, including Chief Warrant Officer Dave James.

"It's just that I was here when it did happen," James said. "I believe we forgot what really happened here."

Retired RCMP corporal Lindsay Fraser was also on duty the morning of the crash.

Fraser said what he saw tha t day was devastating.

"You can never get accustomed to seeing that many bodies in that bad a shape," he said.

Fraser believes the crash is an important part of Gander's history that should not be forgotten.

"You can't go too long without looking back on your history," Fraser said.

"It's one of the bad things that happened, and you hope it never happens again."

The crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 remains the deadliest ever on Canadian soil.

The cause has long been fraught with conspiracy theories that the plane was brought down by a bomb.

But the official cause remains icing on the wings.