The downing of Flight 007: 30 years later, a Cold War tragedy still seems surreal
CNN ^ | August 31, 2013 | Thom Patterson
Posted on Saturday, August 31, 2013 9:24:05 AM by cunning_fish
(CNN) — The idea that Soviet fighter jets would shoot down a Boeing 747 airliner seems shockingly unbelievable. Two-hundred sixty-nine innocent people died in a largely forgotten Cold War attack that took place exactly 30 years ago this weekend.
On a sultry August night in 1983 at New York’s JFK airport, Alice Ephraimson-Abt, a brilliant, 23-year-old, blue-eyed blonde, was about to board Korean Air Lines Flight 007 for Seoul, South Korea, halfway around the world. For one last time, she held her father, New Jersey businessman Hans Ephraimson-Abt, before saying goodbye. “There were hugs and I-love-yous,” her father, now 91, told CNN.
Alice — who was excited about heading Beijing to teach English and study — could have been a diplomat — a contributor to peace, her father said. “Her death was a great loss to her generation.”
The ramifications of the shoot-down of Flight 007 reverberated far beyond the lives lost. It sparked global outrage, conspiracy theories and an activist movement that continues today. It also joined a list of disturbing developments that made 1983 one of the scariest years of the Cold War. Not since 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis had the world teetered so close to the unthinkable, according to declassified documents released last May.
It seemed like each month brought with it new and troubling headlines.
President Ronald Reagan, in March, said the Soviet Union amounted to an “evil empire.” A few weeks later Washington announced it was working on a new space-based weapon. The press dubbed it “Star Wars.”
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