Friday, March 25, 2016

The Last Train Out

Memories...
The Last Train Out

I recently came across some pictures of the 1980 Bologna, Italy train station bombing.  The last time I saw a picture about this was on the front page of the Stars and Stripes newspaper shortly after the incident occurred... One might ask, "So why are you bringing this up now?"  I'll tell you why... I was there!

I was on my way back from Sicily on my way to Germany and had just flown from there to Naples, Italy.  Opting to take the train from Naples I called my friend and cousin Phil who was stationed at Aviano Air Base in northern Italy.  Phil told me to go to Venezia Mestre (Venice for short) where he would pick me up.
The train from Naples was uneventful with one stop in Rome and then onto Bologna where I have to change trains. 
While waiting for my next train...by the way, I'm traveling with my three children...I bumped into some college students from back in the United States.  After chatting with these adventurous guys I left them there when my train arrived...their train wasn't due in for some time later.
I tried to get some sleep on this last leg of my journey to Venice but it was difficult in a crowded train noted for high theft rates of foreigner's baggage.
Eventually I arrived in Venice where Phil was no where to be found...but I waited none the less.
After what seemed to be a longer wait than I anticipated Phil drives up front and waves to me and the children waiting on the raised sidewalk.  Immediately upon getting out of his car, Phil had the expression on his face that some would describe as 'seeing a ghost'...he yelled out at me, "I thought you didn't make it...I thought you were dead!"  I'm totally dumbfounded, "Why?"  "What happened?"  Have you seen the papers?  "It's all over the news!" "They blew up the train station in Bologna!"
You know, I never found out about those college students...and I often prayed that they were safe.  All that I knew was that I was on the last train out. ~ Norman E. Hooben
Bologna, Italy Train Station August 1980
Bologna, Italy Train Station August 1980
Bologna, Italy Train Station August 1980

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