Memorial services took place yesterday, December 21st, to honor the victims lost to the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie disaster. It was on that day, 25 years ago, that the aircraft named Pan Am Clipper Maiden Of the Seas was bombed by terrorist and crashed killing those in it's path of decent- in Lockerbie, Scotland. This momentous event is forever etched into my memory because I was employed as a flight attendant for Pan Am at the time. I remember my family members telling me how they frantically were trying to get information to determine if I was one of the innocent victims that had died that day.
Commonly known as Pan Am, Pan American World Airways represented The United States of America around the globe. For those not familiar with the now defunct airlines, most of Pan Am routes had domestic connections that ultimately led to international destinations worldwide. So with that in mind, I could have easily been aboard the doomed aircraft, Clipper Maiden of the Seas.
When information became available, it was reported that the flight crew on Pan Am 103 were London based and that most of the passengers on board the aircraft at the time of the explosion were Americans on their way home from Europe for Christmas holiday. A list of those that perished, along with some photographs and sketches, can be found by clicking on Pan Am Air.org Seeing the names and faces makes the tragic historical event "more real".
It should be noted that it was because of the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie disaster that all airlines had to start informing the on-board crew members, during daily flight briefings, if a terrorist threat had been made against the flight they were scheduled to work. It was then that crew members were given the option to forego the assignment. Before this terrorist attack, flight crews were not told of warnings, or classification levels as to if the terrorist threat that was made was viable. The doomed London based crew members had no idea that they were in any foreseeable danger of a terrorist attack when they reported to work that day 25 years ago.
"On December 7, 1988, only two weeks before the Lockerbie disaster, Pan Am was issued a Security Bulletin advising that the United States Embassy in Helsinki, Finland received a warning that a Pan Am flight from Frankfurt to the United States would be the target of a bomb. The notice became known as the “Helsinki Warning.” It referred to and reiterated the FAA’s earlier warning of a Toshiba radio bomb and again emphasized the difficulty of detection by x-ray. Once again the security personnel at Frankfurt, including ALERT’s chief of training, were not informed of the bulletin. Pan Am not only failed to increase security staff, they failed to alert the on duty security staff to the warnings. When he eventually received the Helsinki Warning, the manager at Frankfurt attempted to back date it and to suggest that he had disseminated it. He had not. His statement demonstrated blatant dishonesty." - Read more at http://www.lemac.co.uk/resources/reports/In_Pursuit_of_Pan_Am.htm
"Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, on December 21, 1988, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground. The Boeing 747, flying from London's Heathrow Airport to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, was destroyed when a bomb was detonated in its forward cargo hold."- Read more at http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/21/world/europe/lockerbie-anniversary/
"Though selected government officials were alerted, pilots flying Pan Am planes were never told of this threat, let alone any passengers. Investigators ultimately determined that the caller, who had warned of other bombings that had never taken place, was probably simply trying to punish a man who had “stolen” his girl friend. But a bomb was placed on a Pan Am flight traveling from Frankfort to the United States and it did explode 16 days after the phone call." - Read more at http://www.midsummersoundcompany.com/pan-am-103-timeline.html
"... it revealed for the first time publicly, for everyone to see, that the policies of the FAA and the State Department withheld crucial information about serious security threats from pilots, crews and the vast majority of airline passengers." Read more at http://www.midsummersoundcompany.com/pan-am-103-timeline.html
Only one person, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was held accountable for the terrorist attack. After 8 1/2 years he was then released from prison early on August 20, 2009 on "compassionate grounds". He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it was suggested he had a life expectancy of 3 months. He died, a free man, on May 20,2012.
The Lockerbie Bombing Documentary on Smithsonian Channel will air again 7:00 pm, Sunday 12/22. Learn more by clicking here. Please click hyperlinks/highlighted words contained within the article for additional information. To view the featured video click on the link to the top left of the article.
To read tributes and firsthand experiences of that faithful day click on this link to Remembering The Pan Am Worldport Facebook Page.