Author Topic: 10th anniversary of crash at Pope AFB  (Read 7868 times)

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10th anniversary of crash at Pope AFB
« on: March 24, 2004, 16:29:00 »
Memorial service commemorates disaster
By Kevin Maurer, Staff writer
Published on: 2004-03-24


Ten years ago, Lt. Col. Bill Wanovich was supposed to complete his first jump as a primary jumpmaster. Instead, he saw his comrades consumed by a fireball before they got off the ground.

Tuesday was the 10-year anniversary of the crash at Pope Air Force Base that killed 24 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division.

The soldiers were killed when an F-16D Fighting Falcon jet collided with a C-130E Hercules airplane over Pope. The collision caused the fighter jet to crash into a parked C-141 Starlifter aircraft near Green Ramp, the area where paratroopers wait before boarding planes. The explosion caused a fireball that swept over the paratroopers who were waiting to jump. The accident was the worst peacetime loss of life for the 82nd since World War II.

The 82nd Airborne Division held a memorial ceremony Tuesday morning honoring the paratroopers who died. The ceremony was at the 82nd‘s Division Memorial Chapel. About 200 paratroopers and family members attended.

An M-4 rifle, boots and helmet were set up in front of the regimental colors for the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The 82nd‘s colors stood in the middle. A single set of dog tags hung from the trigger guard.

Command Sgt. Maj. Abdo F. Zacheus read the names of the paratroopers who died in the crash. The 82nd Airborne Chorus sang two songs, ‘‘Last Full Measure of Devotion" and ‘‘Amazing Grace." Seven paratroopers from Company A, 2nd Battalion, 505th fired three volleys honoring the dead. The ceremony ended when Sgt. Travis Anderson, a bugler with the 82nd band, played taps.

Col. Karl R. Horst, chief of staff of the 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, gave the commander‘s remarks. He said that after the accident, Green Ramp became sacred ground.

‘‘There is not a single time I make a trip to Green Ramp that I don‘t think of the accident," he said.

Horst was commander of 2nd Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at the time of the accident. He said it was a typical spring day in North Carolina.

Horst was on the range training with his troops when the crash occurred. He remembers seeing the dark smoke plume. A few minutes later, Horst got word of the accident and sent his medics to the scene.

He said the paratroopers responded like it was a combat situation, and their superb training saved a lot of lives.

A sudden fireball

‘‘This accident could have been a lot worse," he said.

Wanovich was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He said once the fighter crashed, there was little reaction time. The fireball ‘‘was on us so quickly," Wanovich said.

After the crash, the soldiers did not run from the fire. Instead, they ran into it to save their comrades, Wanovich said. He remembers seeing paratroopers breaking apart a sign to use as a makeshift backboard to transport the wounded.

Like a lot of the survivors, Wanovich said he makes a point of remembering his fallen comrades every year. When he can, he tries to go out to Green Ramp around 2 p.m., when the accident happened.

While he will never forget what happened, the accident did not make it harder for him to jump.

‘‘It was a very unique thing. The plane could have come down anywhere. You don‘t expect that it will happen again," Wanovich said.

Staff photo by Marc Hall
An 82nd Airborne paratrooper cries during Tuesday's memorial service at the 82nd Airborne Memorial Chapel Tuesday for the 1994 Green Ramp disaster.  

Staff photo by Marc Hall
Sgt. Travis Anderson plays taps during Tuesday's memorial service at the 82nd Airborne Memorial Chapel for the 1994 Green Ramp disaster.  

Pope Crash Deaths

Soldiers who died as a result of an airplane crash at Pope Air Force Base on March 23, 1994:

Capt. Christopher D. Dunaway, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Capt. Kenneth J. Golla, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Charles W. Elliott, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Daniel Camargo, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Price, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Harry L. Momoa Jr., Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Mark G. Gibson, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Waddington Sanchez, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. Alan D. Miller, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff Sgt. James C. Howard, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Sgt. Alexander P. Bolz, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Sgt. James M. Walters Jr., Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Sgt Gregory D. Nunes, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Sgt. Vincent S. Strayhorn, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Sgt. Gustavo Gallardo, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Spc. Martin R. Lumbert, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Spc. Matthew J. Zegan, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Spc. Sean M. Dixon, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Spc. Bee Jay Cearley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Pfc. Andrew J. Jones, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Pfc. Paul B. Finnegan, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Pfc. Tommy Caldwell, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Pvt. Mark E. Fritsch, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Pvt. Phillip J. Harvey, Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

Staff writer Kevin Maurer can be reached at maurerk@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3587.
Junior officers and NCOs who neglect to guide the thinking of their men are shirking a command responsibility.
-Feb 1955 Cbt Forces Journal
Those who appreciate true valour should in their daily intercourse set gentleness first and aim to win the love and esteem of others. If you affect valour and act with violence, the world will in the end detest you and look upon you as wild beasts. Of this you should take heed.
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