Malaysian plane crash brings back memories of downed flight for metro family

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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ATLANTA - Images from Ukraine of the downed Malaysian Air Flight 17 are bringing back a metro Atlanta woman's memories of similar air disaster 31 years ago.
 

In September 1983, a Soviet fighter jet shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007 after it inadvertently strayed over Russian air space. 
 
A total of 269 passengers aboard the 747 bound for Seoul died when the plane crashed into the sea off the coast of Japan. 
 
Cobb County's U.S. Rep. Larry McDonald was on board.  So was Billy Hong, Sr.
 
"He was a golfer," said Hong's daughter, Eunice Hong Carter.  "He was going back to Korea to defend his title in a golf tournament.  He had won the Korean Open the year prior."
 
Carter spoke from her home in Johns Creek.  She was just 7 years old when the tragedy happened.  Her brother, Billy Jr., was just 5.
 
She said watching news about the Malaysian Air tragedy just brought back a lot of old memories.
 
"So many similarities," said Carter.  "Hearing the words 'restricted air space' or 'shot down' or 'Russian', all of that came back, and it was just too familiar, and so heartbreaking, and so saddening.  I cried."
 
Unlike Thursday, it took weeks after KAL 007 disappeared before they learned the Soviets shot it down after they suspected it was a spy plane. 
 
It took almost 10 full years before they learned all the details about the crash and they were never able to recover their father's body.
 
"With a plane crash, it's devastating, no matter what," said Carter.  "But you never get closure because you don't have a body to bury. There's any empty grave."
 
Now, Carter said it's amazing how much information is available via social media and news apps. She also watched video taken by amateurs on the ground of the crash and the crash site. 

She thinks, in the long run, that could help grieving families.
 
"So if there's anything for these families who have loved ones on this flight is that they've got proof," Carter said.  "They've got a much more productive healing in their future because they have proof."



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