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1988 Ramstein crash marked

Maj. Gen. James Hunt, the director of Air and Space Operations, Headquarters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe [right] and Col. Donald Bacon, the commander of Ramstein's 435th Air Base Wing, pay respects during a ceremony Thursday in remembrance of those who died 20 years prior in a devastating air show crash at Ramstein Air Base. Three aircraft from Italy's precision-flying team Frecce Tricolori collided during an aerial maneuver killing 67 bystanders and injuring more than 500 others.

BEN BLOKER/S&S

By KEVIN DOUGHERTY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 29, 2008

RAMSTEIN, Germany — The site was flooded with flowers. In German, dignitaries spoke of the catastrophe, of lives lost, and of angels in their midst.

Survivors and family members of those injured or killed in one of the world’s worst air show disasters visited Ramstein Air Base on Thursday to pay their respects 20 years on. Seventy people — including 60 Germans and four Americans — died Aug. 28, 1988, when three planes of an Italian precision-flying team crashed during an aerobatic maneuver.

Several Italian and American officers attended the memorials.

"It’s very emotional for me," said Thomas Wenzel, who lost his fiancee. "It’s a hard topic [to talk about]. It is good to see how the others are doing."

Wenzel was referring to the survivors. They included mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, children and spouses, friends and colleagues. Several were actually at "Flugtag ’88," and some bore the scars of that fateful day.

"For us, it is a story that is still here," Ramstein Mayor Klaus Layes said following one of the ceremonies. "Nearly everyone in Ramstein remembers this day."

The day of remembrance included several events, some public and some private. Layes and Wenzel spoke after the first official ceremony, held just outside the air base’s west gate. Situated amid a cluster of trees is a memorial bearing the names of those who perished. On base, two events were held, including a private gathering at the actual crash site.

Through Oct. 5, the museum in Ramstein village is displaying a special exhibit dedicated to the events of that day.

"It is a part of our life and history now," Layes said.
 


A man takes in the moment after the conclusion of a ceremony Thursday in remembrance of those who died 20 years prior in an air show crash at Ramstein Air Base. Three aircraft from Italy's precision-flying team Frecce Tricolori collided during an aerial maneuver killing 67 bystanders and injuring more than 500 others. The three Italian pilots also died in the disaster.
BEN BLOKER/S&S