Veteran radio broadcaster, Alistair Cooke’s weekly, ‘Letter From America’, was listened to by audiences from around the world for more than fifty years, before his death on 30th March 2004,
His last broadcast for 1996 focussed on the usual media round up of the year’s outstanding news images, including the ocean recovery of bodies and wreckage from the doomed TWA Flight 800, that crashed into the Atlantic, in 37-metres of water, shortly after take-off from New York’s, John F Kennedy International Airport while en-route to Rome on July 17th 1996. All 230 people on board the ‘plane died in the crash, at that time one of the deadliest aviation crashes in U.S. history.
Describing, in detail, the harrowing incident and the horrors of the recovery (one that continued, day after day, for ten months until all of the victims’ remains had been recovered as well as a majority of the crashed aircraft) “No one”, Cooke lamented, “spoke about the divers” in any of the media reports covering the incident and the subsequent enquiries into the cause of the crash. Referring to the divers in uncharacteristic fashion as, “unsung heroes”, he continued by saying that, “if anyone, during 1996, was deserving of the Medal Of Honour then they’re the ones.”