Saturday, December 22, 2007

Remembering the Pan Am Flight 103 Bombing Victims

On December 21, 1988, 259 souls aboard Pan Am Flight 103 from 21 countries and 11 residents of the town of Lockerbie, Scotland, were killed when a bomb planted in the cargo hold of the plane exploded mid-air at 31,000 feet. One hundred eighty-nine of the victims were Americans, including 15 active-duty military service members, 10 military veterans, 35 students of Syracuse University, four from Brown University, and two from SUNY — all returning home to their families for Christmas. Some of the victims were conscious at the time of the crash, according to forensic experts, as some were clutching religious items when their bodies were found. At least two victims, one flight attendant and one male passenger, were still alive when discovered.

Eight Pan Am 103 victims were from Ohio:
  • John David Akerstrom, 34, of Medina;

  • Om Dixit, 54, and Shanti Dixit, 54, of Fairborn;

  • Douglas Eugene Malicote, 22, and Wendy Gay Malicote, 21, of Lebanon (Douglas was an Army Specialist stationed at the US Army Base in Mannheim, Germany);

  • Peter Raymond Peirce, 40, of Perrysburg;

  • Michael Pescatore, 33, of Solon;

  • and Peter Vulcu, 21, of Alliance.
The bombing was organized by Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal in coordination with the intelligence service of Libyan dictator Mummar Ghaddafi. After international indictments were served, Abu Nidal fled to Iraq, where he lived under the protection of Saddam Hussein.

A memorial cairn was erected in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery in honor of all 270 victims. Syracuse University built an on-campus memorial to the students murdered, and also maintains a website on the terrorist attack. Syracuse also hosts an annual memorial service and offers the prestigious Remembrance Scholars program.

Syracuse University Remembrance Wall (from

Arlington Lockerbie Cairn pictures by Ron Williams (from