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Sat Dec 29, 2018, 07:25 AM

43 years ago today: the LGA Bombing


On December 29, 1975, a bomb was detonated near the TWA baggage reclaim terminal at LaGuardia Airport, New York City. The blast killed 11 people and seriously injured 74. The perpetrators were never identified, although investigators and historians believe that Croatian nationalists were the most likely. The attack occurred during a four-year period of heightened terrorist attacks within the United States. 1975 was especially volatile, with bombings in New York City and Washington D.C. early that year and two assassination attempts on US President Gerald Ford.

The LaGuardia Airport bomb, at the time, was the single most deadly attack by a non-state actor to occur on American soil since the Bath School bombings, which killed 44 people in 1927. It was the deadliest attack in New York City since the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which killed 38, until the September 11 attacks in 2001.

The bomb exploded at approximately 6:33 p.m. in the TWA baggage claim area in the central terminal. The equivalent of 25 sticks of dynamite was believed by investigators to have been placed in a coin-operated locker located next to the carousels in the baggage reclaim area. The bomb blew the lockers apart, causing shrapnel to fly across the room; the shrapnel was responsible for all 11 deaths and injuring several others. Others were injured by shards of glass broken off the terminal's plate glass windows. The force of the bomb ripped a 10-by-15-foot (3.0 by 4.6 m) hole in the 8-inch (20 cm) reinforced concrete ceiling of the baggage claim area. The subsequent fire in the terminal took over an hour to get under control.

The death toll could have been much worse if the area had not been largely clear of passengers at the time; two flights from Cincinnati and Indianapolis had arrived at 6 p.m. and most of the passengers on these flights had already left the area. Most of the dead and injured were airport employees, people waiting for transportation, and limo drivers.

One witness, H. Patrick Callahan, a 27-year-old lawyer from Indianapolis, was with his law partner at the time of the bombing. "My law partner and I had gone outside to see where the limo was...We had just gone back and we were leaning against one of those big columns. The people who died were standing next to us." said Callahan. When Callahan awakened all he could see was dust, and he could not even see his companion, who was two feet away at the time. The blast damaged Callahan's hearing, which did not return for a week. "The bomb appeared to have been placed in the lockers directly adjacent to the carousel that the luggage was on...It was evil." said Callahan.

The bombing was condemned by Pope Paul VI and President Ford, who said that he was "deeply grieved at the loss of life and injuries." Ford cut short his vacation in Vail, Colorado and ordered John McLucas, head of the FAA, to look into ways of tightening airport security. The Mayor of New York City Abraham Beame said that the bombing "was the work of maniacs. We will hunt them down."

Airports in Washington, Cleveland and St, Louis were evacuated following hoax bomb calls and several other airports around the country received similar calls.

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Reply 43 years ago today: the LGA Bombing (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Dec 2018 OP
calimary Dec 2018 #1
akraven Dec 2018 #2
PoindexterOglethorpe Dec 2018 #3
PJMcK Dec 2018 #4
PoindexterOglethorpe Dec 2018 #5

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2018, 08:20 AM

1. Thanks for this, Dennis!

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2018, 08:21 AM

2. I remember it. I was 21.

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2018, 08:24 AM

3. And then, because one person always ruins it for everyone else,

you could no longer use lockers inside airports.

Just like one person does something stupid with his shoes and now we all have to take off our shoes and walk barefoot across floors our mothers would have told us to avoid.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #3)

Sat Dec 29, 2018, 08:54 AM

4. It's all fake security, anyway

If the TSA had caught anyone for real, the Right Wing would trumpet the news for months to prove we need to tighten the police state.

It's all a sham to divert money to Republican-owned security firms.

I hate flying today because of this nonsense and I'll only fly if the destination exceeds 1,000 miles. Otherwise, I'll drive or take a train.

By the way, the airlines themselves are no better, in my view.

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Response to PJMcK (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 29, 2018, 09:36 AM

5. Oh, don't I know it.

I was an airline ticket agent at DCA for ten years starting almost exactly fifty years ago now. I started before any of the security and I'm very aware of why it was put in place and how very, very good it actually was.

I was also working the night the LGA bombing occurred, and I can tell you that the attitude we had (at least at DCA) was that it was tragic, but a one-off. Not something that necessitated removing all airport lockers.

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