Remembering Korean Airline 007

Intended flight path and actual flight path of KAL 007.

Intended flight path and actual flight path of KAL 007.

On September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines Flight 007 (KAL 007) was tragically shot down by the former Soviet Union. All 269 passengers and crew members were killed, including Congressmen Larry McDonald who was on his way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the U.S.- Republic of Korea Defense Treaty.

Senator Helms arrived in Anchorage, Alaska aboard KAL 015 for the plane to refuel aspart of the delegation on route to South Korea. KAL 007 was also refueling in Anchorage and Helms suggested to Senator Steve Symms, also part of the delegation, that they switch flights to arrive earlier. Fortunately for Helms, Symms convinced him to stay and wait for the later flight.

For the remainder of the layover Helms talked to the other delegate members and a family with two small girls, ages 3 and 5.  Helms said he “played a little game with their children that I used to play with my grandchildren.”

Sadly, KAL 007 drifted into Soviet airspace and was shot down. All 269 people on board were killed. Senator Helms spoke at Congressman Larry McDonald’s memorial service on September 11, 1983 and at other services held for the victims of KAL 007.

It’s important to remember those lost on Korean Air Lines flight 007. Listen to the audio recording of a speech given by Senator Helms ten days after the incident.