On the morning of December 12, 1985, a DC-8 charter carrying 248 passengers and a crew of eight, crashed just after takeoff form Gander International Airport, Gander, Newfoundland, Canada.
Most of passengers were members of the 3d Battalion, 502d Infantry, 101st Airborne Division returning from a 6 month deployment in the Sinai. All on board perished as a result of the impact or the post-crash fire.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) performed the majority of the initial recovery work. They were assisted by a Gander Response Team composed of various Army agencies.
Late on the evening of December 12, seventeen graves registration specialists from Fort Lee, Virginia, joined the Gander Response Team. They assisted the RCMP by tagging and inventorying all remains, placing the remains in remains pouches and transfer cases, and helping to process personal effects and military equipment.
A second search and recovery effort at Gander was carried out by 5 four-man teams composed of Army graves registration specialists from Fort Lee and Fort Bragg, who arrived at Gander on January 8, 1986.
Perhaps no other event in its peacetime history has so wrenched the soul and torn at the heart of the US Army as the Gander tragedy. But in spite of its grief, the Army moved quickly and professionally in responding to this tragedy.
For more information on this topic go to: Tragedy at Gander
Compiled by Dr. Steven Anders, former Quartermaster School historian
Event: Gander Crash Recovery Operations
Date: December 1985
"There is no more effective way of creating bitter enemies for the Army than by failing to do everything we can possibly do at a time of bereavement. Nor is there a more effective way of making friends for the Army than by showing we are personally interested in every fatality which occurs."
- Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshall