Remembrance From Muffy Harmar
The morning after the bomb, I went into the Flight Service office and helped set up a small briefing room where crew members going out on flights could come in and have a cup of coffee and look at informal photos of the 103 crew. It was a place where they could feel free to cry, have a hug, and talk about their friends and former crew colleagues. They could also read the telegrams sent by The Queen, the Prime Minister, etc.
Herewith one of the many telegrams we received at the London base to share with the crews flying over Christmas:
“We were both so terribly shocked and profoundly saddened to learn of the dreadful accident in Scotland and wanted to send our most heartfelt sympathy to the loved ones, relatives and friends of those who so tragically lost their lives. They are ever in our thoughts and prayers.”
Charles and Diana/Prince and Princess of Wales
The first week was particularly difficult as it was over Christmas and it was mainly junior crews flying. It was during that first week that the Press were speculating that the aircraft had suffered from metal fatigue, which added to the fears of the crews flying out of London. Although it was obvious that 103 has been brought down by a bomb, this could not be announced until absolute proof had been obtained, which took a full week. When Pan Am flew the families up to Lockerbie for the first memorial service, I worked on the flight up to Glasgow and then we went on a three hour bus trip. It was very difficult working on that flight and then returning to London. The next day Pan Am had their own memorial service with over one thousand Pan Am people present. The US ambassador, the Bishop of London and the top Pan Am hierarchy were there. I was persuaded, very reluctantly, to do the memorial speech. It was the most frightening thing that I have ever done, especially since my best friend, Gerry Murphy was the senior Purser, working first class. It seems so hard to believe that it will be 26 years this year. It never seems to get any easier.
On a trip later in January to Lockerbie with a sister of Gerry Murphy, I met some of the police and security people who were dealing with the aftermath of Flight 103. They told me that at dawn on the 22nd of December it was obvious a bomb had caused this devastation. Yet, unfortunately, this could not be announced until they had absolute proof, which took a full week. It was during this period that the media started to write stories trying to claim that the aircraft had suffered from metal fatigue and that probably most of Pan Am’s 747 aircraft had the same problem. It was so awful for the crews who had to fly out of London during this seven day period over Christmas.
It seems as if the Lockerbie disaster is never out of the news. Ironically, one year ago I met a man who told me that he was six years old and was from Lockerbie. Apparently, his father was returning from work on the 21st December and actually saw Flight 103 blow up. He telephoned 999 and all the hospitals in the area were alerted and called in off duty staff. Sadly, they were not needed, just the fire crews.
EULOGY GIVEN BY MUFFY HARMAR
a friend and colleague
Three years ago, at my father’s funeral, a passage was read which moved me deeply. I found it particularly comforting then and I feel that it is appropriate today.
It was written by Canon Henry Scott Holland. He was one of the Canons of St. Paul’s Cathedral from 1884 to 1910; He then became Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford until his death in 1918. The horrors of the First World War affected him deeply. It was probably for the Memorial service of a close friend who had been killed in the trenches that he wrote the following:
DEATH Is nothing at all;
I have only slipped away into the next room.
I am I and you are you;
Whatever we were to each other that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no difference into your tone;
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort, without the ghost of a shadow on it.
LIFE means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was;
There is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is this death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just around the corner.
ALL IS WELL.
Finally, may I say to all of the passengers on that Flight 103 and to the cockpit crew, in seniority order:
Jim, Ray and Jerry
and especially to the cabin crew:
Gerry, Milutin, Siv, Babette, Noelle, Elke, Nieves, Irja, Paul, Lilibeth,
Jocelyn, Myra and Stacie
Thank you for all the Happy memories
Ann Hawthorne Bouras (Anderson) Purser 1961-1964: My family moved to Lockerbie, Scotland when I was nine years old. We lived in a small village called Bankshill. I attended the local school across the street from my house. When I turned eleven years old I went to Lockerbie Academy. My friends, the Wilsons, the Armstrongs and the Howatsons lived on farms just outside the town of Lockerbie. My father owned a business in Lockerbie, just off the main street. By the time I turned 15, I was asked to play the organ on Sundays, at Tundergarth Church which is located between Bankshill and Lockerbie. Two years later my family moved back to England. I was hired by Pan American in 1960 and was flown to New York to start my training.
Yes, I remember that fateful day when it was announced over national television that Flight 103 had exploded over Lockerbie, and that there were no survivors. I was sitting with my mother in her living room listening to the details and we were both in a state of shock. We cried, we prayed for the families whose loved ones were lost. As the TV stations began to show pictures of the total devastation and turmoil I began to recognize the areas where parts of the plane landed. The cockpit landed in the field opposite the Tundergarth Church, where I played the organ and next to the Wilson’s farm.
Now, on the church grounds, stands a memorial to the passengers and flight crew of Pan Am Flight 103 which is open to the public at all times. As you enter there is a remembrance book in which you can write your condolences to the families. On one wall is a plaque which contains the following words:
THERE ARE THREE THINGS THAT LAST,
FAITH, HOPE and LOVE
and the GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE
I travel to Lockerbie every year to visit this wonderful memorial and to write a message in the book. I talk to my friends, the Wilsons, the Armstrongs, and the Howatsons and we talk about Pan Am 103 and how several lives were changed forever because of this tragedy.
Kay Odenwald: Difficult memories….Linda Notti and I were sent from In Flight and were on the first flight out of JFK to assist in London. On that flight were families of the victims, Milutin Velimirovich’s wife, Dr. John P. McCann , the corporate Medical Director of Pan Am, mechanics, ground personnel and corporate. Our job (Linda and I) was to coordinate with the family’s of the crew on flight 103. We had the unpleasant job of getting dental records and coordinating all the details needed during that very emotional time. I remember we had a white board in the office with each crew members name on it and once they were identified, we coordinated all the details to get the remains back to each family. It became personal for Linda and me. Some of the crew were able to have open caskets and families wanted them buried in a Pam Am Uniform. Linda and I took care of all that stuff. There was also a Pan Am employee assigned to each passenger and crew member and they would travel with the remains to the final destination.
Lisa Schwenk: I flew as Purser for Pan Am out of San Francisco. I was on this airplane many, many times. I loved how Pan Am would name their airplanes. I remember one flight getting ready for departure. There were always two pursers on a 747. I was up in the First Class cabin coordinating services with the other Purser. I can’t remember her name… As we were talking “The Maid of the Seas” pulled in to the gate beside us. We watched it slowly pull in along the left side of our aircraft and block in. My fellow Purser looked at me and said “Lisa, I just got chill bumps all over my body. Something terrible is going to happen to that airplane one day. I don’t know what it is, but something terrible is going to happen.” It was such an odd experience – I remembered it. Who wouldn’t? I also told my friend Michele Burdick who asked me to recount this story. I remember coming home from Frankfurt the day before 103, and going through security in Frankfurt where there was supposedly a “high alert” for security in place. No one even wanted to look at my luggage – which was the norm. Dear Michele was the first one to call me to make sure I was okay and home and not on that flight. But Pan Am was like a family, and we knew almost every crew member on 103. May God bless all the families who hurt today in remembrance of their lost ones along with all those innocent victims on the ground. Hans Vollmer: I was flying London’s out of JFK during that December and after Flight 103 we took family members over to London to identify remains. It was awful. The entire First Class section was full with them. One father kept on banging his head on the tray table all night long. While everyone else was sleeping all you could hear was the thud of his head against the tray table. Truly my saddest flight. Walking into the crew lounge in London the next day was very emotional. London based flight attendants were camping out there comforting each other. So senseless, so many beautiful lives lost.
Peter J. Ashford: Though I was not cabin crew I worked for Pan Am for five years in Alaska. In 1999 I visited Scotland on a business trip and made sure I visited the memorial in Lockerbie. It was a very moving visit; I was the only person in the cemetery on rain-soaked windy day. A tragedy for all concerned on that awful night en route to JFK.
Brenda Anne Dymock: Thank you to all who contributed .
I was one of the LAX flt att representatives ,along with Danny Valdez and Steve Priskie. We were in London , Frankfurt and Lockerbie at
all of the Memorial services . This was ,and still is one of the most difficult trajedies I have ever dealt with . Our thoughts today are with all involved . We will always remember,with great sadness. Our floral wreath was delivered to the Memorial Garden today as we have for all of the 26 yrs. In our hearts forever, as the tears still fall .
Natalie Bertini-Johnson I was a LHR based flight attendant in 1988 and took flight 103 on Dec 20th to celebrate my 21st birthday in New York. My roommate worked the flight. It was a devastating day for all of us to hear we had lost family and friends.
8 thoughts on “
Dear All, so many years now having elapsed, 33 it appears, it’s beyond words still to articulate feelings about the tragedy of December 20/21 st 1988 in the skies over lowland Scotland. I hope you understand l do not wish to intrude in any way in the long-standing loss, grief and sorrow all co-workers and families have experienced, and no doubt still are. However, l was a passenger on a 727 flight from Berlin that day, which landed in Frankfurt ( the then air-corridor protocols still extant, pre-Perestroika ) and then London Heathrow, this latter being my destination. As it had been my first ever trip to West Berlin, still the front-line in the Cold-War, my head was still spinning as l made my way to my domicile in the gathering London December gloom that early evening.
On that flight there was a stewardess/ flight attendant who looked after me in such a kind and caring manner, giving me a blanket to keep warm as l was sat in the last seat at the rear, close to the plane’s rear-exit and catering station. What was really extraordinary for me was she had been on my flight out from London 12 days before, and l’ll never, ever forget her beautiful smile and voice as she invited me, on landing in Hamburg for passport checks and the geo-political necessities, to ” take a nose-full of ‘ Hamburger Luft.’ ” Something again one never forgets on a cold, clear, bright day replete with blue-sky as far as one could see.
.. thus, on two separate flights to and from Berlin from London, with 12 days in between l was cared for by a most wonderful human being on my Pan Am 727 flights. Unless l’m mistaken with regard to the return flight on the 20/12/1988 ( ie. where the interim landing was ) l have never found the strength to enquire whether this beautiful soul, whom l’m sure many of you would know, then after we landed in London then went onto the fateful Locherbie 747, or then, mercifully, returned to Germany with that 727.
If anyone can shed light on this mystery after such a passage of time l would be eternally grateful to you.
With thanks and deep respect, SB.
Darlene Carver Laster – I had already taken early retirement when Pan Am sold our Pacific routes to UA because we knew they would close the HNL station. When I heard about PA 103
I knew it would be the end of our Pan Am.
When I read Paula & Becky’s FLYING book, I was greatly moved
by the ending and we read it at her celebration of life at the beach at Waikiki. It seemed so fitting because about a year earlier she and I were logging her donation items for the Pan Am collection at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. Here was a photo of the last flight Pan Am flight out of HNL and we both had chicken skin when we saw the aircraft was the Maif of the Seas. We miss Paula so much as she was an excellent historian on our beloved Pan Am.
I was home the night of Lockerbie. My neighbor, who was an American airlines flight attendant heard the news first and called up to see where I was. Complete and total shock sent in. It was the Christmas season and we had a Christmas pageant rehearsal that night at church. All I could think of with all of our little angels dressed for the pageant was the Angels that we had lost on 103. It was a nightmare that continued to unfold!
Thank you all! I was a flight attendant seeing the world because of PAA. It was a honor to be part of the PAA family and still is. Will never forget this experience ever. Prayers to all the families who lost their loved ones and friends that sad day in Scotland.
I was not flying during that time. I had taken a personal leave & I was away at a retreat when I heard the news. I’ll never forget how a certain stillness & numbness overcame me with disbelief. My mind raced with so many passing thoughts as to what happened? I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of an airplane breaking up into pieces at 31,000 ft. When the news broke a week later that it was a terrorist act numbness turned into anger & fear for my colleagues “ask at PAA. I am honored to have been part of the PAA family & will always hold them dear to my heart.
Finding Resource in Friends, Family and our Aviation Community
Today is a sad anniversary in the world of aviation, especially for those of us who are part of the Pan Am family. I suspect that for many of us, it is still too painful to address it directly. It is then a great resource to know that we are part of a larger family. I am today especially thankful for the kind support that comes from so many within the aviation community. It is a great resource at a time of sorrow. Sending hugs to all of you out there.
Thank you to all who contributed. I was one of the LAX flt att representatives
along with Danny Valdez and Steve Priskie. We were in London,Frankfurt and Lockerbie at
all of the Memorial services. This was,and still is one of the most difficult tragedies I have ever dealt with.
Our thoughts today are with all involved. We will always remember,with great sadness.
Our floral wreath delivered to the Memorial Garden today as we have for all of the 26 yrs.
In our hearts forever, as the tears still fall .
I’d been out to dinner with a friend. When we got back to my flat- my answering machine was full which was odd. I rewound it. The first message was from my father- I will never forget his voice- then with each message it got worse. Elke K. had spent the previous Xmas eve with me in my flat at one of the most special evenings for all who were there.
The next morning I went to the airport. Pan Am wasn’t equipped to handle what had happened. Some of us answered phones and gave out a number to call to people who were “searching” for their loved ones. Hank Auerbach was right there with us. We were like robots in shock.
I went to my mailbox before heading home and grabbed my mail and headed for the tube. My heart hurt. I would be flying out on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with my girlfriend in Miami. When I got on the train I opened a Christmas card. It said, Dearest Ann, Let’s live it up in ’89! Love Elke. I crumbled on the train. A complete stranger- helped me.
I recently ran into someone who knew Nieves as I was voting in November. Their sweet faces never fade from any of our memories. They never ever will.