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History and Heritage

Hold Fast - Part 2

The Darkest Day

The pistol's barrel pressed firmly against his head. Tony Watson knew he was about to die. "This is it," he thought as the adrenaline began to rush. "You diplomat?" screamed the hijacker holding Tony's passport.

WARNING: Contains explicit language.

Only hours earlier he and his shipmates Stuart Dahl, Ken Bowen, Jeff Ingalls, Clint Suggs and Bobby Stethem were waiting at the crowded Athens airport. The sewer outfall line they had been dispatched to repair in Nea Makri, Greece was complete. With the exception of a short layover in Rome, they were heading home.

The flight was unusually crowded - seats were randomly assigned to the team. Tony took his seat in coach as Clint and Bobby got settled two rows behind him. Time for a nap, he thought.

The plane was still climbing to cruising altitude when two men ran screaming to the front of the cabin. One had a gun, the other a hand grenade.

Jeff Ingalls was reaching into his briefcase for a book when he received a kick to the head as the hijackers ran past. The terrorists, visibly armed, demanded everyone turn in their passports. Jeff only carried his military identification card. Something inside told him to hide it. Seconds before the terrorists reached his row, he slipped his card between the seats. That decision changed everything.
Hold Fast pt.1 Link

Hold Fast pt.1 Link

Click here for Part One.
"Passenger Ken Bowen please come to the front of the cabin," crackled the plane's intercom.
This can't be good, Ken thought from his window seat in coach. He, like the rest of the stunned passengers aboard TWA Flight 847, was still trying to come to grips with what had just happened. All of the passengers sat heads bowed as if bracing for a crash-landing. How many of them were there, Ken wondered. Through thick middle-eastern accents and broken, crude English, he could make out at least two of them. He slowly raised his head to get a better look. A pistol's butt to the back of his skull sent a sharp pain through his whole body. "Head down!" shrieked the thug, forcing Ken lower with a forceful push from behind.

"Passenger Ken Bowen come forward please."

Ken slowly raised his hands and began to stand. He was only in the first class cabin a moment before he felt the Beretta 9mm's muzzle pressed firmly against his forehead. "You Marine! We kill Marine," the thug hissed. Ken stared into the terrorist's eyes searching for any sign of humanity. He only saw blackness. Another hit to the back of the head and he was led back to his seat.

Stuart, like everyone else, found himself trying to process the screaming that erupted. He sat up, electrified with a familiar and terrible feeling: Dread. Fear. Terror.

It was at that moment that he saw Clint and Bobby getting pushed forward to the first class cabin. Bound and blindfolded, the two brothers were forced into the seats. Everyone else was cleared out and hustled back to coach. Then the beatings began. It was at this time the world became aware. Televisions across the globe carried footage of the taken plane as it crisscrossed the Mediterranean. Hour after hour the beatings continued on Bobby and Clint - they were singled out as "Marines." They silently urged each other to hang on. Clint bit down on his lip - there was no way in hell he would give these dogs the satisfaction of a reaction. Bloodied and bruised, Bobby was hustled to the back of the plane for a head call. Stuart, Ken and Jeff each tried to make eye contact with him - give him some encouragement.

He was forced back to the front as the plane approached the Beirut runway. Once landed, Clint could hear the door open. With the engines still running, he heard the shots. Bobby's murderers made the announcement: one more in five minutes. Clint knew he would be next. It was at this moment that TWA Flight Attendant Uli Derickson stepped in and pleaded for Clint's life. The terrorists stopped and led him back to coach.

Hold Fast Part 3 Link

Hold Fast Part 3 Link