Mourners Jeer U.S. Officials At Service For Remscheid Crash Victims
REMSCHEID, West Germany (AP) _ Protesters jeered two American officials outside an emotional memorial service for six people who were killed when a U.S. military jet crashed in this central German city.
The service was held Thursday night, one week after the A-10 Thunderbolt II jet crashed, destroying several homes in a working-class neighborhood.
Loudspeakers broadcast the service to at least 1,000 people who stood outside the packed Lutheran church, located near the site of the tragedy.
The crash killed five civilians and the American pilot and renewed the public outcry over military training flights in West Germany’s crowded skies.
The cause of the crash has not been determined. Air Force officials say the aircraft was not engaged in a low-level flight.
West German military officials have speculated the pilot may have become disoriented when he flew into bad weather.
The 60-minute memorial service was attended by U.S. Ambassador Richard Burt, U.S. Air Force officials, West German Defense Minister Rupert Scholz and representatives of state and local government. After the service, Burt and the Air Force officers were jeered by about 50 protesters outside the church.
Several shouted ″Amis (Americans) Go Home 3/8″ at Burt, and others shouted ″murderers″ at the military men. Protesters also hooted at Scholz.
After the crash NATO defense officials suspended all tactical fighter training flights until Jan. 2 in memory of the victims. Mayor Willi Hartkopf said that period allows only enough time ″to brush the tears from our eyes.″
″This mixture of horror, sadness and selflessness ... requires us to do everything in our power to prevent something like this from happening again,″ Hartkopf said during the service. His statement was greeted with applause.
Not counting the Remscheid accident, 12 major accidents involving military aircraft have killed 95 people in West Germany this year.
The victims include 70 people who died in August when stunt planes crashed during an air show at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein.
Earlier Thursday, members of a Remscheid peace group and members of opposition political parties held a vigil near the crash site.
Members of the group carried placards saying ″Never Again Remscheid″ and also demanded a halt to all low-level military training flights.