With dreaded phone calls and knocks on the door, military authorities Friday notified families of soldiers killed in the crash of an Army charter jet in Newfoundland, including relatives of one sergeant who "wanted to make the world a better place."
"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 a passenger manifest of the plane returning soldiers from peacekeeping 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."
Most of the 256 people killed in the crash Thursday were members of the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky., which dispatched an honor guard to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Friday, to help receive bodies being returned from the crash site in Gander in the Canadian province of Newfoundland.
The names of five Californians appeared on a partial list of passengers aboard the ill-fated Arrow Air DC-8 plane. The list, compiled from information supplied by the Pentagon and from information provided by relatives, included Spec. 4 Gregory T. Carter of Covina, Pvt., Adrian Jackson of Los Angeles, Sgt. John Millett of Idyllwild, Spec. 4 Terry R. Pevey of Port Hueneme, and Pvt. 1 Brian Wallace of Canoga Park.
In Odell, Tex., the news that 19-year-old Spec. 4 Frank C. Wheeler was aboard the plane was the latest blow to his parents 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 Texas family, that of Pfc. Troy Cupples, clung to what his stepfather, David Spear of Porter, called "a far off hope" that, while Cupples' name was on the passenger manifest, he may not have been on the plane. Other families voiced resignation or sought comfort in memories.
Sgt. Ronald Mayhew, 24, of Indianapolis, who planned a career in the Army, told his family last July he "wanted to make the world a better place for my two kids to grow up in," said his aunt, Janet Lewellyn.
That's why he volunteered for a multinational force stationed in Egypt to enforce the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian accord, she said. "He wanted to do his part to keep the peace in the world."
Marilyn Shipley, mother of Cpl. Michael Shipley, 27, of North Huntingdon, Pa., said that her son enlisted in the Army in February because he couldn't find a job after his discharge from the Marine Corps.
'He Wanted That Beret'
"So, he said, 'Mom, I can't find anything out here. I might as well go back in. At least it will be a paycheck.' He wanted that beret, so he joined the airborne. He was really thrilled with the airborne," his mother said.
Spec. 4 Darnell Andrews, 22, of Detroit, was eager to return home to see his 4-month-old daughter, Angela, for the first time, said his wife, Sandra.
"He kept saying he wanted to see his daughter," Sandra Andrews said, adding that memories of her husband were happy. "They were all good. He was the type of person everybody liked."
Another Detroit family was among the lucky ones. Spec. 4 Michael D. Thomas of Detroit was listed on the manifest, but his sister, Karen Thomas, said Friday that an official at Ft. Campbell reported her brother did not get on the plane.
"We don't know why he didn't get on," she said, adding that her brother is still expected home for Christmas.
Hours of Waiting
In East Providence, R.I., the family of Spec. 4 John Proffitt, fearing he was on the plane, waited for hours that "were like three years" before he called to say he was safe, said his father, Richard Proffitt.
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 that her son, 19-year-old Pfc. Keith Mitchell Schultz, was on the passenger list.