Iran marks anniversary of US missile attack on Iran Air Flight 655

July 2, 2016 2:00 pm

In this file photo, an Iranian
soldier checks the bodies of the victims of the Air Flight 655
crash, which came after it was shot down by the Navy guided missile
cruiser USS Vincennes over the Persian Gulf, July 3, 1988.

Iran is marking the 28th
anniversary of the downing of its commercial airliner by a
Navy guided-missile cruiser back in 1988 as the aircraft was flying in
Iranian airspace, and over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian
Gulf.

The plane, an Airbus A300B2 of Iran’s flag carrier,
Iran Air, had just taken off from the southern Iranian coastal city of
Bandar Abbas at 10:17 a.m. local time (UTC 0330) with 274 passengers and
16 crew members on board, and was climbing inside an internationally
recognized route to Dubai when the US cruiser, the USS Vincennes, fired
two SM-2MR surface-to-air missiles at it, one of which hit the plane.
US
officials claimed their warship had mistaken the airliner for a
supersonic and variable-sweep wing Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter jet.
The
allegation was made even as the warship was equipped with highly
sophisticated radar systems and electronic battle gear, and the
passenger plane was transmitting Mode III 6760 squawk code, typical of a
civilian aircraft, and maintained radio contact in English with
appropriate air traffic control facilities.

This
file photo shows pieces of wreckage from the Iran Air Airbus A300B2
passenger plane shot down by the US Navy guided missile cruiser USS
Vincennes over the Persian Gulf, July 3, 1988. The
USS Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its
helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within
Iranian territorial limits.
Washington later paid some 95 million dollars in compensation for the Iranian victims and the aircraft.
The
money, however, failed to placate the anti-US sentiments in Iran, where
people expected the USS Vincennes’ captain, William Rogers, to be held
responsible for his criminal act.
Rogers was instead awarded the prestigious medal of Legion of Merit for his so-called outstanding service.
Every
year, Iranians throw stalks of flowers in the Persian Gulf to mark the
anniversary and pay tribute to the victims of the terrible human
tragedy, which retains the record for highest death toll of any aviation
incident in the body of water.

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