Memorial held for Ft. Campbell soldiers killed in plane crash - | WBTV Charlotte

Memorial held for Ft. Campbell soldiers killed in Gander plane crash

FORT CAMPBELL, KY (WSMV) -

Dec. 12 is always a solemn day at Fort Campbell.

It's been 28 years to the day since 248 soldiers died in a plane crash in Gander, Newfoundland.

The Fort Campbell community prayed, honored and remembered those soldiers Thursday at a memorial that's happened every year since winter weather and icing brought that plane down in 1985.

At a time of year when wreaths celebrate a season of joy, December's annual laying of the wreath at Fort Campbell serves as a sad reminder.

There were 248 soldiers returning from a Middle East peacekeeping mission, all headed home for the holidays.

Col. Peter Benchoff was a high school freshman at the time of the crash.

"I remember the TV images of the wreckage, the news reports, the national sorrow of 12 December," said Benchoff. "What I didn't fully understand at the time, I now know the significance of that day."

Rayvon Johnson was one of the men who never came home.

"That's all he knew," said Yang Johnson, Rayvon Johnson's wife. "He joined Army at 18 years old. That's all he knew his whole life was Army."

Yang Johnson said it's her duty to be at this memorial ceremony.

"Every single year. I haven't missed one yet," said Johnson.

The winter weather crash is considered the second longest day of the past century at Fort Campbell with D-Day being the first.

Madeline Haller honored her husband Brian, walking along the memorial trees donated years ago by the people of Newfoundland.

"It's good to remember," said Haller. "I'm very thankful they do remember after all these years."

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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