Undated (AP) _ One grieving mother felt ″tricked and robbed″ by her son’s death in the jet crash that killed 248 soldiers, and another woman said her stepson ″went in the Army as a boy and came out as a man. Yet we didn’t get to see that.″
For the parents of another victim, their son’s death came near the end of a year in which two other sons and a grandson were killed.
″I feel I’ve been tricked and robbed,″ said Mary Kosh of Donora, Pa., mother of 1st Lt. John Kosh Jr., whose name appeared on list of those confirmed dead in the crash of the plane returning soldiers from peace-keeping duty in the Sinai peninsula.
Recalling her worry about his assignment in the Mideast, she added, ″So he survives all that and he gets on a plane to come home and it crashes. It’s just not fair.″
Those killed in the crash Thursday at Gander, Newfoundland, were 248 members of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Ky., and eight crew members of the chartered Arrow Air DC-8 jet.
In Aurora, Ohio, Edna Seitz, whose stepson Frederic C. Seitz, a 22-year-old private, was listed as a passenger, said he ″went in the Army as a boy and came out as a man. Yet we didn’t get to see that.″
Rozann Napier, of Middletown, Ohio, didn’t realize when she first heard the news of the crash that her son, Spec. 4 Michael Napier, was aboard.
″I never dreamed they would be coming that way,″ she said.″I told my daughter that it was so horrible, and I felt so sorry for those people, never dreaming my son was one of them.″
In Odell, Texas, news that 19-year-old Spec. 4 Frank C. Wheeler was listed aboard the plane was the latest blow to his parents, Frank and Mary Froelich, in a year that claimed the lives of two other sons, in an accidental shooting and a grain elevator accident, and a grandson in a traffic accident. Another son had been killed in fighting in Vietnam.
In Macon, Ga., Rogers Lynch said military officials told him his son, Spec. 4 Benjamin Lynch, was aboard.
He said his son wrote him a letter the day before the crash. ″He said, ’By the time you read this I’ll be in the air, back to the U.S.A.‴
Henry Word of Warner Robins, Ga., said his 20-year-old daughter, Virginia Ruth Word, who was on the manifest, joined the Army partly for the chance to travel.
″She wanted to see Jerusalem,″ he said, his voice breaking, ″and she didn’t make it there.″
Judith Schultz of Schofield, Wis., said she had been trying unsuccessfully to get through on an information phone line established by the Pentagon.
″I had just gotten rings, when I saw the silhouette of a serviceman walking up to the door. Then I knew it was all over,″ she said. She was told her son, 19-year-old Pfc. Keith Mitchell Schultz, was listed as a passenger.
Friends and relatives of crewmembers of the Arrow Air plane also spoke about their memories.
Stewardess Ruthie Phillips, a graduate of Bay High School in Bay Village, Ohio, was planning to end her flying career in a few days, her mother said.
″This was going to be her last flight (as a stewardess),″ said her mother, Ruth Vargo. ″She worked for them for three years, but she was looking forward to starting air control school in January.″
Another on aboard, Sgt. Ronald Mayhew, 24, of Indianapolis, had planned a career in the Army because he ″wanted to make the world a better place″ for his two children, said his aunt, Janet Lewellyn of Fairland.
That’s why he volunteered for a multinational force stationed in Egypt to enforce the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treat, she said. ″He wanted to do his part to keep the peace in the world.″
Some of the families held on to any thread of hope.
″I won’t believe it. I can’t believe it,″ said Elizabeth Wester of Bellvue, Pa., mother of Pfc. John Wester, 19, who was on the passenger list.
″I will hope and pray and wait until someone in uniform comes knocking at my door with official word.″