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Relatives Talk About Slain And Wounded In Rome Attack

December 29, 1985

Undated (AP) _ Relatives of the Americans slain in Rome’s airport wondered ″why they had to get caught in this,″ while others headed to Italy to be with wounded loved ones Saturday, and some of the tourists who were in the attack returned with tales of horror.

″My son had a sweet, short, happy life and I’m here with his friends celebrating his life. It’s what he would have wanted,″ Cecile Buonocore said of her son John Jr. ″His friends are here, hoisting a few and celebrating the good moments of his life. What else can we do ... none of us will ever understand this.″

Buonocore, 20, was to have returned home to Wilmington, Del., on Friday for his father’s 50th birthday, said his mother.

At least 13 Americans were wounded and five were killed in Friday’s attack by Arab terrorists at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport.

Those killed included Natasha Simpson, 11-year-old daughter of Victor Simpson, news editor for The Associated Press in Rome; Buonocore, a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.; and Frederick Gage, 29, a newspaper executive from Madison, Wis., the State Department said.

Don Maland, 30, a finance officer for Ford Aerospace in Cairo, Egypt, who was from New Port Richey, Fla., died Saturday during surgery, the State Department said. The Italian Interior Ministry said later that Elena Tomarello, 67, also died at a Rome hospital.

″It’s a shock. I don’t think there’s any words that say how you feel,″ said Mrs. Tomarello’s son, Armando Peppenella, of Naples, Fla. Mrs. Tomarello was preparing to catch a flight to the United States after a six-month vacation with her sister, who lives in a small town near Rome, he said.

Peppenella said his niece, Ema Noffi, an Italian, was injured in the attack.

Travelers who had been in Rome’s airport, some of them Italians en route to this country, arrived during the night at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

″Women and children had blood all over their faces and clothes. All we did was throw outselves onto the floor. The whole thing took no more than five or 10 minutes,″ Luciana Graziani, 50, of Rome, said through an interpreter.

″When I heard the bomb go off I said ’Oh, it’s my turn,‴ said Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Tamassy, 32, of New York City, who was knocked down by a grenade blast. ″We didn’t even talk about it on the flight back here, but there was a lot of applause when we landed safely.″

The same gunfire that fatally wounded Don Maland also wounded his brother Mark, 37, of Elizabeth, N.C. They and a third brother, Tim, 32, had met in Rome on Tuesday and spent Christmas together, their parents said. Tim had flown to Munich, where he lives, shortly before the attack.

Their father, Ray Maland of New Port Richey, Fla., said his two daughters were flying to Rome on Saturday and that Tim also was returning to the Italian city. He said Mark was in good condition.

″It’s unreal. You wonder why they had to get caught in this. You just don’t believe it,″ said Ray Maland.

The elder Maland said his sons had called the day after Christmas. ″They were just happy,″ he said. ″They said they walked from one end of Rome to the next. ... They saw it all.″

″I knew there was an attack, and I actually knew my mother was in the city. One doesn’t ever expect any connection,″ said David Root, 48, of Reston, Va., whose mother was wounded. Elizabeth Root, 77, of Columbus, Ohio, regained consciousness Saturday after surgery in Rome. Root and his brother James, 51, of Westport, Conn., also were en route to Rome.

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