A Reporter Remembers Flight 103, 20 Years Later

(AP)
CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston is based in New York

There are some stories that are seared in a reporter's memory --images that never fade.

The release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison today reminded me of one of those stories.

It happened December 21, 1988 - covering the families and friends of Pan Am flight 103. Dozens of people rushed to JFK airport after learning the aircraft carrying their loved ones had crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland.

At the time, I was a correspondent at CBS's flagship TV station, WCBS in New York. The assignment desk sent me and my camera crew to the arrival terminal. Relatives and friends of Flight 103 were already there. It seemed that most knew what had happened.

There were tears, muffled screams, sobs, as husbands and wives, fathers, mothers and siblings learned the awful truth.

One woman collapsed on the terminal floor. I heard her before I saw her. As I watched her companions attempt to offer assistance, not for the first time, I felt awkward about the intrusive nature of my job.

One instinct said 'find the cameraman, get pictures'. But my personal sense of sadness, seeing so many grieving people, made me pause.

As I stood there, my photographer walked up. We talked about it and decided we had more than enough images of pain and angst.

Our competitors got the pictures of the lady on the floor.

We didn't.

We didn't miss them.

There was enough sadness in that terminal to last a life time.
  • Randall Pinkston

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