Tuesday, July 22, 2014

TOP STORY >> Her niece one plane ahead of fatal flight

Leader Editor

Hedy Wuelling, who runs the Jacksonville Animal Shelter, follows the news of the downed Malaysian airliner on Dutch websites because she’s from Holland.

She’s appalled that two-thirds of the 298 victims were from her native country and it’s taken almost a week for the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine to release the bodies. The rebels are suspected of shooting down the plane with a surface-to-air missile that Russia probably gave them in their fight with the Ukrainian government.

Wuelling was telling a visitor to the shelter Monday that her niece had flown back to Holland on Malaysian Airlines just a few days before Flight 17 was shot down last Thursday.

“She came back on Flight 16,” Wuelling said, speaking with a Dutch accent.

Flight 17 was carrying 193 Dutch passengers. The rest were Malaysians, including the crew, as well as Australians, Indonesians, Britons, Belgians, Germans, Filipinos, a Canadian and a New Zealander.

Wuelling is upset about the way the Ukrainian rebels have collected bodies onto refrigerated trains, stolen the victims’ wallets and credit cards and refused to allow investigators to enter the crash scene until early this week.

“It’s disgusting how they’re holding up personal belongings like teddy bears as if they were trophies,” she said. “No respect. They’ve got their own war, but they should respect other people.

“If they’re innocent, they should let other people in to investigate,” she added.

Wuelling, who moved to Jacksonville 11 years ago, said Dutch people like to travel to Malaysia because of its resorts and its natural beauty. Many of the victims were vacationers. Others were prominent AIDS researchers flying to a conference.

The Ukrainian rebels stalled for almost a week, hiding pieces of the Russian missile they used to shoot down the plane and stealing valuables from the passengers, who lay in a wheat field for days in the oppressive heat while their bodies decomposed.

Some were thrown on stretchers like cordwood reminiscent of previous massacres in the region. The historian Timothy Snyder, in his book “Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin,” recounts the atrocities that took place there before and during the Second World War.

Ukraine is where the Nazis and Soviets took turns killing millions of their victims, depending on who was in control of the area. Their descendants and collaborators are still committing atrocities there almost 70 years later.

Alexander Borodai, the rat-faced commander of the rebel forces, looks like someone who comes from a long line of thugs. His grandfather could have been a Nazi collaborator, and his father a communist enforcer.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian strongman who supplied the rebels with the missile, must be proud of his Ukrainian stooge.

Putin, a former KGB official who continues to arm the separatists, has finally given into international pressure and ordered the rebels to release the plane’s black box and allow foreign monitors into the area.

The Dutch are in mourning. They want the culprits punished.

The Dutch military is sending its C-130s to Ukraine to pick up the victims and fly them home for identification.

Wuelling can see the C-130s from her home on Hwy. 107 near Little Rock Air Force Base. That’s where all C-130 crews do their training, including foreign allies like the Dutch.

She brought her parents here from Holland a few years ago. They’re a long way from home, but, when they see the C-130s flying overhead, they feel a little closer to the victims who perished.