On Sept. 1, 1983, we learned a Soviet Union fighter jet had fired on a civilian airplane off the coast of Siberia. The attack reportedly killed all 269 passengers and crew, including a good friend, U.S. Representative Larry McDonald of Georgia.
At the time, McDonald was known as one of the most active anti-Communists in Congress. He was chairman of the John Birch Society, and he served in many national and international organizations.
Four days after the attack on Korean Airlines Flight 007, President Ronald Reagan delivered a strongly worded speech on national television, calling the attack “a crime against humanity.” Reagan used the word “massacre” six times describing the assault and declared: “This was the Soviet Union against the world.”
Despite the President’s tough talk, the U.S. took no meaningful action against the Soviets — not even when Soviet ships and planes harassed Japanese and American search-and-rescue efforts in the Sea of Japan.
Twenty-eight years after the attack on KAL 007, mystery still surrounds the event and the fate of the passengers. If the plane, instead of plummeting into the sea, took 10 to 12 minutes to descend — did it land safely in Soviet territory? Were there any survivors? If so, what happened to them? Why did the plane stray off course in the first place? And why did the Soviets react so furiously, even murderously, to it? We still do not know the answers.