Lost Passport, Missing Orders, Generous Gesture Spared Lives Of Three With Crash-Families Bjt
Undated (AP) _ One soldier lost his passport, another’s orders disappeared and a third gave up his seat for a comrade, sparing them from death when the Arrow Air military charter flight crashed in Newfoundland killing all 256 aboard, relatives said.
″Clumsy Eric. He just misplaced his passport. I’m so happy I don’t know what to do,″ said Jonnie Harrington, mother of Pfc. Eric Harrington of Lake City, Fla., who was forbidden to board the plane in Cairo without his passport.
″Well, he’s not really that clumsy, but that was a good time to be clumsy,″ she said.
″It was God’s miracle. It was his intent for my son to miss that plane.″
Harrington, 20, remained behind in Egypt while 248 comrades of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and eight civilian crewmembers perished Thursday when the DC-8 jetliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Gander, Newfoundland.
The plane, bringing the soldiers home to Fort Campbell, Ky., from peacekeeping duties in the Sinai Peninsula, had landed at Gander for refueling.
Harrington’s parents learned he had missed the plane on Thursday night after their son called his wife, Brenda, 20. Until then, the family had feared he died in the crash.
The soldier’s wife said her husband told her he was the only one in his company not to get on the plane. She said he told her that all his teammates on his unit’s basketball squad were killed.
Sgt. Greg Yarber, 27, of Texarkana, Ark., missed the plane because his military orders were lost, family members said Friday.
″He was mad because he wouldn’t be able to make it home for Christmas,″ his sister Clare, said. ″But somehow, thank God, his orders got lost.″
″I sat there thinking last night, ’This is really something to be thankful for,‴ said his father, the Rev. C.K. Yarber.
In Kansas City, Mo., the parents of Sgt. Mark Brady heard the news of the plane crash on the radio Thursday and feared for four hours that their son had been killed. Then the phone rang.
″I had become desperate and Donna was so distraught,″ said Frank Brady of his wife. ″Donna picked up the telephone, and it was a long distance call from an Egyptian operator who asked if this was Missouri. I heard her scream and I picked up the other phone and it was Mark. Oh, my God.″
Mark Brady and another man had volunteered to wait for a later flight when there wasn’t enough room for all who wanted to go, his father said.
″Apparently some other folks needed to get home. It was either an emergency or they had families. Mark and the other man stayed behind,″ planning to fly home later, the elder Brady said.
″We can’t believe our own good fortune, but our hearts go out to all of those other folks,″ he said.