Lod Airport Massacre, Tel Aviv Israel

The largest Airport Terrorist Attack in History

I was a teenager living in St. Louis in 1972 when my family moved to Israel. We were not a religious family and definitely not Jewish. My dad is a research scientist and was a major player in the plastics development of the time that we all benefit from now. He took a gig with the UN that took us to the Holy Land to oversee a classified plastics project for the Israeli Government/Military.

Our first stop was Austria. We spent several days exploring Vienna while My dad attended a briefing with the UN at their world headquarters there. Vienna rocks! If you ever find yourself in Europe go there.

From there we flew on May 30th with EL AL into Tel Aviv. El Al is Hebrew for friendly skies. While in the air we learned all the commotion on board was due to reports of a terrorist attack at Lod Airport where we were headed. 26 dead and 80 injured. The passengers weren't speaking english so we were the last to know.

We touched down after a long waiting pattern and taxied to the end of an unused runway far from the terminal. There we sat while military personal gathered around the plane. This was back before the jetway walkouts from the terminal. Back then a set of stairs rolled up and you exited to the tarmac and walked or rode a bus to the terminal. You still see this practice with Air force One.

Once the soldiers had secured the perimeter the stairs were rolled up and the plane's exit door opened. At that point the stewardesses (this was before the liberals had the PC police) were removed and a team of elite Israeli special forces took command of the airplane.

This was a team of no bull shit alpha men on full alert armed with full auto UZIs with the safeties off. This was not a drill and they meant business. They took strategic positions about the plane and secured the zone.

We were moved to the door of the airplane one at a time by two soldiers who then turned us over to the commands of a soldier standing on the deck of the stairway. He commanded me to step forward to him. It wasn't until I was several steps out on the platform that I realized there was a nervous soldier on each side of the doorway pressed flat against the plane's fuselage with UZIs pointed at my head and two more on the ground with M-16 rifles doing the same.

I was walked down the stairs to a waiting army truck where I was loaded into the back with other passengers. Eventually my whole family were reunited in the truck. On three sides were Duece and a half troop trucks full of soldiers while in front of us was a jeep with a Browning 50 cal keeping the peace.

The whole circus slowly made it's way to the terminal. It was a hot sunny day and this Missouri boy wasn't adapted to the desert yet. Once we finally got to the air conditioned buildings we were led single file inside then around propped up sheets of plywood separating us from the victims of the attack in the baggage pick-up area.

The terrorists had waited patently for their checked luggage full of sawed off AKs and hand grenades at the carousel. Then they mowed down mostly Puerto Rican men, women and children on a religious pilgrimage. To this day you rarely see me check luggage and when I have to I stand well off from the carousel until I see my bag.

The next stop was customs. There we were required to turn, flip and push every switch and button on everything we had. Cameras, radios etc. They watch your eyes for any sign of stress because something is a bomb and about to go off when a button is pushed.

My dad pointed out that we were flying under UN Blue passports that made us exempt from searches and customs. The agent smiled and politely acknowledged the VIP documents but calmly completed the task of searching us.

The Airport was under Marshal Law and everyone was a suspect. We arranged for our baggage, and a lot of it... to be shipped to our hotel in Haifa.

Once we made it through the line and was free to go we found our way to the front doors of the Airport. I will always remember seeing the maintenance crews patching and painting the holes in the drywall from the machine gun fire and hand grenades, readying for the next day's flights and business as usual.

We finally broke loose into the blazing Israeli sun and was free. Our friends Moshe and Nava were waiting to pick us up and take us to our hotel in Haifa an hour north along the Mediterranean coast. They opened the car door, dresses to a tee as always and with a big smile welcomed us to our new home, Israel.

The terrorist were from the Japanese Red Army terror group guided by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They knew well dress Japanese men posing as symphony musicians would not raise any flags and be able to fly in with violin cases full of weapons.

The system of profiling failed to catch the terrorists that day. The Israelis took this lesson and using it as a model of what went bad created a new security system second to none in the world. That system is now used world wide. A system born on this tragic day.

Remember this when someone whines about the TSA searching a nice little old lady. If they don't search everyone equally like kids and nice little old ladies, the next bomb will be carried onto your flight by a kid or a nice little old lady. No one gets a pass or it will be used against us.

Two of the three terrorists were killed in the attack and one injured. He received life in prison yet was released in 1985 in a prisoner swap for captured soldiers with Lebanon and has since returned to the fight.

Now whenever I fly, I always sit neck deep in those memories, smile and order another Gin and Tonic.

Fatalities

A total of 26 people were killed during the attack:

US citizens of Puerto Rico

Israeli citizens
Canadian citizen