The crash landing of United Flight 232 unfolded in Sioux City, Iowa in 1989 - 25 years ago on July 19, 2014. A commemorative weekend was held on July 18, 19, and 20 reuniting the crew, survivors, families, and responders. The three days were designed to reflect on United 232’s crash-landing, to learn from and thank the Siouxland responders, and to honor those lost. A committee of 50 community leaders planned the events for a year that was free and open to the public.
Incredibly, 184 survived a fiery landing, 138 of them walked away, 112 of the 296 passengers and crew died. Over 400 Siouxland first responders from 50 surrounding communities were ready to help and 100’s more in the area continued with random acts of kindness. The tragedy still remains one of the most gripping stories in aviation history.
On Friday, July 18 at the Orpheum Theatre Jim Wharton lead a discussion with United Airlines Captain Al Haynes, Head Flight Attendant Jan Brown, Retired SC Fire Chief Bob Hamilton, Woodbury County Emergency Director Gary Brown, retired President of Briar Cliff Sr. Margaret Wick, St. Luke’s Surgeon Dr. Larry Foster, Mercy ER Physician Dr. David Greco, and Retired 185th Commander Dennis Swanstrom. Pierce Street hosted many area responders who brought their emergency vehicles.
Saturday, July 19 was host to open houses at The Security Institute, Briar Cliff University, Mid America Museum of Aviation and Transportation, and the 232 Memorial at the Riverfront. LifeServe Blood Center and the Mayor’s Youth Commission collected over 200 pints of blood and Laurence Gonzales, was on hand to release his new book Flight 232: A Story of Disaster and Survival will be on hand for book signings. The air museum opened the new Flight 232 exhibit and reflection garden.
An afternoon ceremony was held at the museum. Reverend Greg Clapper, retired chaplain of the 185th Air National Guard, lead the afternoon ceremony. Iowa’s Governor Terry Branstad who was also governor in 1989, Mayor Bob Scott who served on the city council in 1989, Woodbury County Board of Supervisors chair George Boykin, retired Captain Al Haynes currently residing in Seattle, and survivor Jerry Schemmel of Denver all spoke. Kevin Keane, Ron DeMars, Sioux City Police Sergeant Mike Manthorne provided special music. A joint color guard from the Sioux City Police, Sioux City Fire, Woodbury County Sheriff, and 185th ARW presented and retired the colors. President John Reynders of Morningside College and President Bev Wharton of Briar Cliff University did a tribute to the 112 lives lost by reading their names. It was the first time in 25 years that the names were read. The ceremony closed by the crew laying a wreath in the new outdoors 232 Reflection Garden at the threshold of Runway 22.
On Sunday morning, Morningside Lutheran Church and Pastor Darrin Vick will host an ecumenical service on the riverfront at the Anderson Dance Pavilion. Reverend Greg Clapper will preach and Reverend Marvin Boes will do the readings. Guests are asked to park at Bev’s on the River and use a shuttle that will be on hand. The service will conclude by walking over to the 232 Memorial. Artist Dale Lamphere of Sturgis, SD was present.