Cycle to Syracuse - The Lockerbie Memorial Tour 2018

Thirty years later, ‘Cycle to Syracuse’ (C2S) completes the journey on behalf of all those on Pan Am Flight 103

Colin Dorrance joined Police Scotland in August 1988. By coincidence, he was driving near Lockerbie on the evening of Dec. 21, 1988, and thus became one of the first police officers to respond to the crash. He was assigned to work in Lockerbie for the next several months. Afterward, and for the next 24 years, he tried not to dwell on his memories of the disaster. But then his daughter, Claire, was selected to spend one year at Syracuse University as a visiting Lockerbie-Syracuse Scholar. Five years later, his son, Andrew, also was chosen as a Lockerbie-Syracuse Scholar. He gained a new perspective on Pan Am 103 through their experiences.

In 2017, as his planned retirement from the police force approached, he realized that the end of his 30-year career coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Pan Am Flight 103 disaster. An avid bicyclist who had already organized several charitable rides, Dorrance thought about ways to combine his love of cycling with an event to honor those who had been lost and those who come to Lockerbie during that dark time to try and help. Cycle to Syracuse was born.

Cycle to Syracuse—or C2S—was a three- part initiative to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am 103/ Lockerbie Air Disaster by remembering those lost in the air and on the ground, the work of the members of the emergency services and the response of the townspeople in the aftermath of the bombing. A team of five cyclists formed the core group of cyclists, comprising:

  • Colin Dorrance: A former pupil of Lockerbie Academy and the father of two Lockerbie- Syracuse Scholars. Colin represented the police first responders.
  • David Whalley: David led the Royal Air Force search and rescue team on the night of Dec. 21, 1988.
  • Paul Rae: Paul was an 18-year-old Lockerbie resident in 1988. On that night he volunteered to help search the hills. He is now a firefighter in Lockerbie and represented the Scottish Fire Service on the team.
  • David Walpole: David is now a paramedic in the Lockerbie/Annan area, and represented the Scottish Ambulance Service on the team. In 1988 he was a bank manager in Dumfries.
  • Brian Asher: Brian is the head teacher at Lockerbie Academy and responsible for building the school’s links with Syracuse.

Cycle to Syracuse aimed to remember those lost, raise awareness of the impact of terrorism and raise funds for mental health services at Lockerbie Academy. In addition, Cycle to Syracuse highlighted and strengthened the ongoing links between Lockerbie and the United States, especially at Syracuse University, by forging multiple bonds and friendships between families on both sides of the Atlantic.

Part 1—The Children of Lockerbie
In the first stage of the journey, the core group of cyclists visited all of the primary schools surrounding the town of Lockerbie during September and October 2018. At each school, the cyclists explained the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing and hosted bike rides. “Our journey to Syracuse started in the primary schools around Lockerbie. ... It has encouraged them to speak to their parents about the bombing, learning something of how it affected the older generation in 1988. We are all reminded of just how selfless and heroic so many people were, and how widely it is still talked about today. Of course, for some, the journey will never end,” said Dorrance.

Over 1,600 pupils from Lockerbie Academy and the primary schools “crossed” the Atlantic by riding on either exercise bikes or their own bikes at school.

Part 2—Lockerbie to Edinburgh Castle
For the second stage of the trip, the team organized a ride from Lockerbie to Edinburgh Castle, followed by a reception in the castle’s Great Hall. On Oct. 10, 2018, the five core cyclists and approximately 75 friends and supporters biked the nearly 70 miles from Lockerbie to Edinburgh. Scottish Secretary David Mundell was on hand to welcome the group to the castle. “I was brought up in Lockerbie, and know how deeply the air disaster has impacted on the town,” Mundell said. “But I have also seen the very positive links which have grown between Lockerbie and Syracuse University over the years since. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the bombing, it is fitting that five local men are making the journey to Syracuse to remember those lost, and to raise money for a local youth mental health charity.”

Part 3—Completing the Journey
As well as marking the anniversary, C2S celebrated the strong links between the town of Lockerbie and the U.S. The final leg of C2S started in Washington D.C. and ended at Syracuse University, which lost 35 students in the bombing, during Remembrance Week 2018.

The cyclists and their support team—Cathy and Jeff Plinke, Colleen Chambers, Miles Ross and Judith Dorrance—left the Lockerbie Memorial Cairn in Washington, D.C.’s Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Oct. 26. The cycled more than 600 miles through Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and upstate New York, stopping to see some historical sites and meet family members who lost loved ones on Pan Am 103.

Some visits were planned, others were not. The Monetti family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Richard ‘Rick’ Monetti) and the Hudson family in Kinderhook, New York (Melina Hudson) hosted the cyclists during their journey. About 15 family and friends, including Jane Davis (mother of Shannon Davis), Kathy Tedeschi and Brice Daniels (wife and son of William Daniels), and Nancy “Ann” McLaughlin (sister of Bernard McLaughlin), met the cyclists when they arrived at Central Park in New York City. Kelly Halsch Dubé and her father, Paul Halsch (who lost numerous family members) as well as Margaret Otenasek and her family (Anne Lindsey Otenasek), flagged down the cyclers as they biked through Maryland. The cyclists met a construction worker in a Washington, D.C. hotel who had a relative on Pan Am Flight 103. On the final day, the five cyclists received a send off with bagpipes and a police escort from the home of Anna Maria Miazga (mother of Suzanne Miazga) in Marcy, New York.

After seven days, they arrived at the Einhorn Family Walk on the Syracuse University campus. They walked through a light rain to the end point of the journey, where they were greeted by nearly 200 supporters. After a short ceremony of welcome, Chancellor Kent Syverud spoke to the crowd, followed by Oliver Mundell, member of Scottish Parliament for Dumfriesshire, and Colin Dorrance.

The next day, Nov. 2, the cycle team participated in Syracuse’s annual Rose-Laying Ceremony, where they each lay a rose in memory of those who were lost. Dorrance wore his police uniform for the last time, as the day marked the official end of his police career. “I felt content and at peace. Just like the leaves are falling from the trees here, there’s a time for a different season,” he said. “And I feel that I am going into a different season.”