A beautiful memorial for Flight 232 can be found in Sioux City along the banks of the Missouri River
If you were anywhere within the Sioux City media market radius and of a certain age to comprehend what was transpiring, there's a very good chance you vividly remember what transpired on July 19, 1989.
On that day, United Flight 232, a DC-10, was heading from Denver to Chicago when it suffered catastrophic damage to an engine. That, in turn, caused the aircraft to lose many of it's flight controls. As a result, the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Sioux City (SUX). Captain Al Haynes, his co-pilot William Records, and off-duty pilot Dennis Fitch were able to crash land the jet. The crew and 180 on board survived yet 112 perished from either smoke inhalation or traumatic injury. Emergency responders and ambulances were summoned from a huge tri-state radius (Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota) to swiftly aid as many on board as possible.
Despite the incredible loss of life, the crew was credited with taking actions that ultimately saved a lot of lives. If you are interested in digging deeper into the story behind all of this, there's a lot of information on the web. There's even been a movie made about it.
I was only 3 1/2 years old and so I don't think I remember the day, but I do remember, as the years went, seeing news coverage of subsequent anniversaries or reunions held in Sioux City. Al Haynes would come back to Sioux City regularly and became a speaker about aviation safety. It was big news in Sioux City in August of 2019 when it was announced that he had passed away in Seattle at the age of 87.
Flight 232 is now a major part of Sioux City's history and they have erected a beautiful memorial on a beautiful and peaceful section of land along the banks of the Missouri River.
Iowa Adventurer and a couple of friends stopped by and I found it to be quite lovely. It's literally just a few steps away from the river.
There's ample parking nearby.
There's a walk way with a series of rocks that include engravings that help tell the story through the words of those involved.
Each rock has it's own unique engraving and many are quotations.
Eventually you reach a rounded area with a partial pergola, rocks, plants, lighting, benches, a statue, and some other rocks with inscriptions.
That statue depicts Iowa National Guard Lt. Col. Dennis Nielson carrying three-year-old Spencer Bailey to safety. It was a famous picture captured by a photographer with the Sioux City Journal at the time. It sort of became THE image of the day.
There's a small monument which gives a little more information about the statue.
On the other side of it is another red stone with a plaque on it.
This is a very peaceful and beautiful location, though I know that it is sometimes prone to flooding concerns. The crash landing occurred near the Sioux Gateway Airport, a few miles to the south, but this is a lovely spot near the river for the memorial.
July of 2021 marks the 31st anniversary of this noteworthy event and I've read where there is an effort to make some repairs to the monument. They hope to have the repairs done in time for the July anniversary date.
Despite growing up in Northwest Iowa, this was my first visit to the memorial and I'm glad I was able to stop by. If you were around the Siouxland area on that day in 1989 and old enough, I'm pretty confident you remember it all quite vividly. You or someone you know might have been part of the emergency response and therefore this memorial might have extra special meaning for you. But even if not, it's a powerful site to remember and honor both the lives lost but also to the heroic actions of countless others that saved many more.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Woodbury County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.