A one kilometre stretch of highway in Gander, Newfoundland is being renamed Remembrance Way to commemorate the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division and eight crew who died in Canada’s deadliest air disaster on December 12, 1985.
Bob Smith was a military police officer in 1985 and was a first responder to the tragedy.
He explains, “While attending the 2017 commemoration ceremony, I suggested to Mayor Farwell that the Trans-Canada Highway near the crash site should be renamed in honour of the fallen 248 soldiers and eight aircrew. He agreed it was a good suggestion.”
Gander mayor Percy Farwell says, “First, we had to decide what name, what distance, and collaborate with the different parties involved.”
Though at first the name Screaming Eagles, the name of the division, was suggested, Farwell and Smith quickly agreed that the scope of the project should be broadened.Gander citizens request highway rename to honour soldiers killed in Canada’s deadliest air disaster
Farwell explains, “The highway stretches between two points of interest: the area where the crash occurred, and the nearby Commonwealth War Graves cemetery where soldiers and air force personnel are buried from the Second World War. We would probably be remiss if we focused on the Screaming Eagles soldiers and not include those of the Commonwealth across the road. These sites strengthen our appreciation of the sacrifices we should be thankful for. There is a special feeling when you’re there.”
Farwell set to work officially requesting the provincial government’s approval for the renaming.
“There is quite a bit of homework to be done to get these things changed. We are appreciative of the provincial government agreeing to do this. They didn’t have to do it, but they did, and we appreciate that.”
The signage will have the poppy on it and the logo of the 101st Screaming Eagles on it.
Farwell says the project was important to him.
“Each November 11th, we remember those who sacrificed for us. As those who participated in major wars pass on, there’s a danger that they’re no longer remembered. Hopefully, this will be a daily reminder as people travel, as opposed to a yearly reminder of the sacrifice.”
The signs will be in place by November 11 and will be covered until then.
They will be unveiled on Remembrance Day. The ceremony will take place in the parking lot of the North Atlantic Aviation Museum at 2 p.m. on Nov. 11th.
Smith and Farwell hope the renaming will be a constant reminder of those who made the sacrifice for freedoms we enjoy every day.