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There is a Scholarship under his name in his native State of Texas at Rosebud-Lott High School. A member of the Multinational Peace Keeping Force from Fort Campbell, Kentucky killed in the crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 in Gander, Newfoundland.
Haslund Ora(Jerry) Black, By Melissa Mollohan: He was named after his aunt. Most people couldn’t pronounce or even spell his name correctly. And what kind of Texas man could live with being called Haslund Ora? It was understandable that he hated the name. And so he became Jerry.
Jerry was a soldier. He was in the 101st Airborne Division and served in Vietnam and Korea. Jerry was injured in Vietnam in February 1966 by small arms and grenade fire. He was shot in the shoulder. His fellow squad member, Staff Sgt. Steven Mollohan, was killed during the same incident. When he returned to Fort Campbell from Vietnam, he checked up on Mollohan’s widow, Goldie, and later they were married. He gained three stepchildren, Steve, Jeff and Susan, and the couple had a son of their own, David.
“He was good to us kids,” said Jeff, the second oldest child. “He was our stepdad, but he was our dad.” Jerry was strict, but loving. He had good family values and morals. “He made sure we had everything we needed,” Jeff said. Jerry was a soldier, and a soldier’s life includes many travels. The family made a home on Ginger Drive in Hopkinsville. But Jerry went to Korea and the family moved from Fort Jackson, S.C., to El Paso, Texas, back to Fort Campbell, then to West Point, N.Y., back to Fort Campbell, then Panama, and finally back home to Kentucky.
Jerry was a soldier. You could tell by the way he ate. He would put ketchup and hot sauce on almost everything. “He even put it on his salads,” Jeff said. “And he loved chicken. We’d always go eat fried chicken.” Jeff said that when the family ate chicken, Jerry usually got stuck eating the wings or the fat or anything the children didn’t eat. “He used to say that we would do that when we have kids,” Jeff said. “I told him, ‘No way.’” He planned to retire after a six-month peacekeeping mission in the Sinai peninsula.
With all the moving the family had done, Jerry and Goldie acquired many properties in the Hopkinsville area. He would use real estate as a way to earn money for his family in retirement. By 1985, Jerry’s family had grown. There was the oldest child, Steve, and his wife, Janice; Jeff had one child, Joseph, and his wife, Carol, was pregnant; Susan, the third child, had two children, Waylon and Jessica; and the youngest child, David, was reaching the end of high school. So in June of that year, Jerry set out to Egypt.
He wrote letters home to his wife and was excited about the new grandchild, who would arrive in December. With Christmas coming soon, Jerry bought souvenirs and presents for his family while he was in the desert. Dec. 12, 1985, was supposed to be a happy day. There was a new baby in the family, a healthy 6-pound, 2-ounce girl, and they were all supposed to welcome Jerry home on that day. But Jerry didn’t return. And Dec. 12, 1985, wasn’t a happy day.
Jerry was a soldier, a command sergeant major and one of the 248 soldiers who died in a plane crash shortly after takeoff in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. The plane had just fueled up for the final leg of the trip and crashed less than a mile from the runway after take-off. Goldie found out about the crash on the television; she notified family members by phone. “There wasn’t any closure for awhile until the remains were positively identified,” Jeff said. Initial reports blamed the crash on the accumulation of ice on the wings. But Islamic Jihad terrorists said they blew up the plane. Conspiracy theories abound about an explosion that happened before the crash. The crash was even featured on an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Haslund Ora “Jerry” Black was my grandfather. I was the baby girl he was going to see when he came home. He was a soldier, and I am a writer. Today, 25 years after the plane crash, I get to tell his story. My dad is Jeff, and I call a human disposal, just as Jerry predicted. I yearn to know the man who loved yard sales, pushed his grandchildren around in a wheelbarrow for fun and drove like an elderly woman. I’ll give anything to find the tin cup Jerry bought for me as a Christmas gift in 1985. I channel Jerry by putting ketchup on my scrambled eggs. And I wonder what would’ve happened if the 248 soldiers and eight crew members had come home that December morning.
REACH MELISSA MOLLOHAN at 270-887-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quick Info: Gander ceremonies Sunday
1 p.m. - Task Force 3-502nd Memorial Tree Park, between Normandy and Screaming Eagle boulevards at Fort Campbell. Speakers will be retired Maj. Gen. John Herring, former commander of the 2nd Brigade, and Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, the Army’s chief of chaplains.
3 p.m. - Fort Campbell Memorial Park in Hopkinsville. The park, on Fort Campbell Boulevard at Pennyrile Parkway, has limited parking. Shuttles will be available from the James E. Bruce Convention Center to the park. Following the Hopkinsville service, there will be a reception for family members at the convention center.
Haslund Ora Black was a(n) Sergeant Major for the United States Army. Haslund was born on April 19, 1938 and was from Dallas, Texas. On December 12, 1985, he died in a non-hostile incident in Canada at the age of 48.