Lockerbie visit emotional, poignant for area woman

July 04, 2019 07:08 PM

DELMAR - Kim Wickham refers to her recent trip to Scotland as an "epic journey" that just fell into place.

"For 30 years, none of us discussed this," Wickham said. "We just went about our lives."

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Thirty years ago, in the fall of 1988, Wickham was a foreign exchange student studying abroad in London. On December 21, 1988, she had a ticket to return the United States onboard Pan Am Flight 103, however at the last minute she accepted an invitation to spend Christmas with friends in Germany.

While she was in Germany, Libyan terrorists planted a bomb on the airliner that blew it out of the sky over Lockerbie, killing 270 people, including 37 of Wickham's classmates from Syracuse University.

The survivor's guilt, she says, began almost immediately.

"I don't know that it is necessarily subsided," she said.

Visiting Lockerbie all these years later, after finally building up the courage, was a mission of emotional necessity, not to mention a long overdue opportunity to visit the final resting place of her friends and honor their cherished memories.

"I guess now I'm really on path of remembering them and acting forward in their memory," she said. "I'm trying to be the best person I can be."

Seeing the town, touching the memorial, and getting to understand how the people of Lockerbie have kept the memory of the victims alive was powerful and poignant.

"Honestly, one of the main things I learned over there is how much they suffered, how much they went through," Wickham pointed out. "Having a big, giant plane crash into your town and all they did was want to help, all they could do was pick up the wreckage, and all they could do was, some of them actually laid with the bodies in the fields overnight so they wouldn't be alone. That's what they did. They took it personally."

Wickham's personal tour guide, Colin Dorrance, a young police officer at the time who witnessed the crash, reassured her that her friends never suffered.

From Lockerbie, Wickham headed to Germany to be with the family she credits with saving her life.

"They were there with me when I was learning of Pan Am," she recalled. "They were all right there with me and they've been there with me too every step of the way."

For Wickham, the summer of 2019 was about healing and introspection.

"We're one big community separated by giant seas, but we're one big family Lockerbie and Syracuse and all of us really," she stated. "It was a great experience and I never thought I would say it, but I would go back."


Dan Levy

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