GANDER, Newfoundland -- The Stars and Stripes emblem on the blackened, twisted fuselage was the only clue Friday that the passengers aboard the doomed DC-8 jetliner were U.S. soldiers.
The 40-foot hunk with the flag was the largest visible piece of the plane that carried 256 people to their deaths a day earlier.
Charred pieces of wreckage, clothing and personal effects lay about the crash site near Gander International Airport. It covered an area three-fourths of a mile long and several hundred yards wide.
The smell of jet fuel hung over the area as three busloads of reporters were given a one-hour tour of the crash site. Burned fir trees looked as though they had been ravaged by a forest fire instead of a plane crash.
Mostly it was the small, personal things -- a boot, a helmet, a pair of faded blue jeans -- that caught the eye.
Pieces of insulation and clothing hung from tree branches. A piece of carpet from the aircraft rested next to a duffel bag. Several pressurized oxygen cannisters from the plane lay in a small area cordoned off by white rope.
No bodies were visible, although rescue workers bundled up in parkas were still searching for the remains of about 56 victims.
The plane crashed within a stone's throw of Lake Gander, which is 20 miles long and a mile wide. A red boom lay 70 yards just offshore to contain any fuel that had leaked from the crash site. Three white rowboats rested upside down on the border of the lake.
For a moment, it was hard to imagine the horror that this rustic, sun-drenched spot had experienced in the dank morning air 33 hours earlier.
But on a sign nearby, an arrow pointed to the crash site. And the area was strewn with orange tags attached to metal pegs, each marking the spot where a body of one of the American servicemen from the 101st Airborne Division had fallen.