The LaGuardia Airport Christmas bomb of 1975

It was mostly forgotten in time and overshadowed by 9/11. Thirty-five years later, the case remains unsolved.

It happened on December 29, 1975. A bomb with an equivalent force of 25 sticks of dynamite had been placed in a locker adjacent to a luggage carousel.

At 6:30 pm, as LaGuardia bustled with travelers, the bomb went off, collapsing the floor and ceiling and hurling shrapnel from the lockers into the air.

Eleven people were killed, mostly by shrapnel wounds, and 79 injured.

So who could have been responsible? Investigators initially suspected the Puerto Rican separatist group FALN, which took credit for the lethal bombing at Fraunces Tavern earlier that year.

The PLO and JDL were also on the short list. But nothing led police back to these groups.

Then in 1976, after a hijacking from LaGuardia by a Croatian nationalist, investigators thought they finally had a suspect.

But after the hijacker was arrested in Paris, he didn’t take responsibility. Law enforcement officials consider him the strongest possible suspect, but to this day, he maintains his innocence.

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26 Responses to “The LaGuardia Airport Christmas bomb of 1975”

  1. Richard LaLoge Says:

    I was flying from West Germany to Lexington KY that day. I was at a bar close to the TWA Terminal that morning then flew to Pittsburg and on to Lexington. I cannot remember the carrier, maybe Allegheny, regardless I was wondering if you had access to what time of day my flight left? I am pretty sure it was morning. Never heard from any Law Enforcement about it either.
    This has always bothered me and I hope it is still being investigated. I don’t remember anything now and could not place anything out of the ordinary that morning right after I heard of it.
    I did run into a fellow soldier from my hometown of Campbellsville KY at that terminal and had also met my Army room mate flying back to Germany earlier at Charles De Gaulle Airport. Those 2 incidents were weird coincidences but understandable.
    Trying to remember my life and experiences and never was able to figure this one out.
    Anyone else there that sad day?

  2. Kevin Says:

    I was at the 75 Bombing, I was shooting spot news at the time, I think that we were actually in route to a babysitter homicide at the time of the job. I can remember the FDNY box 37 being transmitted and we were there. A photo of myself wound up in either the Post or Daily News I was helping someone into th eback of an ambulance had a new swade jacket on at the time and it was covered in blood. I would guess the Post used the photo… I still can not find it. Kevin D

  3. TSA Conducts Car Search at SRQ - Page 3 - FlyerTalk Forums Says:

    […] years ago that killed 11 & injured 79 at LGA (and, mostly forgotten & seldom mentioned):…-bomb-of-1975/ This morning, coming out of our nearby Home Depot and into the nearly empty parking lot, […]

  4. bud navero Says:

    I too was there. I had just arrived on a flight from Buffalo and was on the stairwell down to the lower concourse when I felt a huge thud.
    When I got to the bottom of the stairs a wild eyed employee was hustling everyone outside and away from the building. He kept yelling ‘Bomba!” Unbelievably, when I stepped outside into the panicky crowd and frigid night I ran into a dear friend who’d just arrived at the airport to take a flight out. We wound up walking out of the airport on the overpass to the other side of the expressway and found ourselves at the bar of the Travelers Inn watching it all on television.

  5. J Says:

    I’m one of those people that have premonitions and felt immensely uncomfortable prior to our departure from CA. I felt like something was going to happen. My husband and co-workers and spouses all met at the TWA baggage claim area, I think it was around 4:30 or 5:00 ? We were driven to Sterling Forrest Conference Center and shortly after the announcement of the bombing came on the news.
    It was horrible. We were re-routed back through JFK airport when we departed NY. I have never forgotten what happened and always wondered if they ever got the culprit. I guess not.

  6. William Says:

    I had just got on the highway home, heard the news on the radio. Had just been there! Missed me by only a few minutes.

  7. Karen Webb Says:

    To this day, I will never forget the Laguardia bombing. I was 16 at the time the bomb went off. My great-aunt, Edythe Bull was one of the 11 people killed that fateful day. Even though we may never find the culprit who set off the bomb, God will. And then watch out!

  8. Greg Miller Says:

    My Dad and I were there that day and had arrived on Delta whose lockers were back to back with TWA. We had just left the airport and it left quite an impression on a 16 year old kid. What a difference a few minutes makes….

  9. Kabooms At The Boston Marathon - Page 9 Says:

    […] There has been a number of these bombings in recent years. The 9/11 disaster was so horrific it over shadowed that news. In 1975 the New York Laquardia Airport bombing was worse than todays incident. That was almost 40 years ago and has never been solved. […]

  10. John A Says:

    LaGuardia Bombing of 1975

    Christmas of ’75 my Dad & i traveled to the Canary Islands via a TWA charter plane, I was 16. We returned the evening of Dec 29 at LaGuardia, cleared customs without incident and made our way though the terminal to a yellow cab. The cab had no more than pulled away from the curb when the bomb went off behind us. Father encouraged the driver to move on, I don’t think it took too much to get the cabby out of there. We listened to chatter on the cabby’s radio the whole drive to the city. The bombing put a damper on our New Year in NYC, as it did for so many families. Its amazing its still unsolved. May Peace be with all those who suffer.

  11. Keith Says:

    My family and I were there 24 hours before the bombing.
    The waiting area was small. I remember the lockers facing a short stairway a short distance from the seating area.

  12. Richard LaLoge Says:

    The NRA lobbied to not add taggants to gunpowder and ammonium nitrate. The technology became available right after this bombing. Maybe it could be used now in Boston. In Texas we see what fertilizer will do. A pity.

  13. New York’s other deadly September 11 bombing | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Their act of terrorism and the death that resulted from it seems like a footnote of 1970s terrorism history. […]

  14. Ira Presslaff Says:

    Ira Presslaff

    December 29, 2012.

    Thinking of my brother Ronnie

    37 years ago on this date December 29, 1975 a bomb went off at the bag’s department at LaGuardia Airport. The bomb was placed in a baggage locker it had the power of 25 sticks of dynamite. My brother and 10 other good souls were murdered that night. My mother who was with my brother received five pieces of flying metal into her body. Mom in her mid-70s at the time did survive however with life lasting injuries.

    I became very friendly with one of the investigators a New York City policeman who kept me up on what was happening pertaining to the investigation of this terrible and foolish event. Pete, the Sgt., told me that they were investigating a Croatian national by the name of Busic. Busic was being held concerning another bomb that went off at that time while it was being discharged. Bosic had placed that bomb in a locker at Grand Central Station New York City. When they were discharging the bomb it exploded killing a policeman at a bomb range. Pete informed me that during their investigation and interrogation of Busic that he was ready to break. The FBI rushed in taking him away from the New York City police. Bosnic served more than 30 years in a federal prison and was released 2008. He was serving time for the Grand Central station bombing, not the LaGuardia airport bombing. Bosic is now a free man living someplace in his homeland where he is considered a hero.

    Now 37 years later America has forgotten about those 11 souls who were murdered at LaGuardia Airport that terrible evening on December 29, 1975. It is the only case of its kind in our history that has gone unsolved. Ronnie your brother has not forgotten.

    Post note: Aug. 20th 2013
    More time is past the coward Busic as well as his wife I imagine are enjoying their lives. Our nation has long forgotten the terrible terrorist attack that took place at LaGuardia airport in 1975 where 11 good souls were murdered as well as 79 good folks were damaged. This is not to mention the many family members and friends of those who were killed or harmed at LaGuardia airport that dreadful night who suffer from losses of that night.

    Over the last number of years I have contacted many concerning this tragedy. I tried to get information and help from various sources such as “America’s Most Wanted”and received a cold shoulder. A New York City high profile detective by the name of Coffee who possibly could have aided me in my search would not even return my phone calls. There were others in the New York City media, written and radio, who were quite helpful, however no one has been held responsible for this terrible act as of today. The federal government has done little to solve this terrible crime, and seems to have little interest in doing so.

    • Dan DElaney Says:

      Hello Ira,
      I walked out of the Terminal 7 minutes before the blast. I was picking up a friend. I am sorry for your loss and the injustice of this case.

  15. Tom Bender Says:

    Many in the Slavic community felt that it was a Croatian Terrorist. I was on my way to LaGuardia. If I did not listen to that little voice in the back of our heads that pesters us from time to time, I would not have gone back to New Haven to finish my vacation. Instead, I would have been walking into the terminal when it went.

  16. frank Says:

    i believe i was scheduled to travel from laguardia the day after the events. If I recall I didn’t get out for at least two days after that. I remember this as I was trying to figure out how old i was when I flew alone for my first time. I was 8 yrs old. Do you remember those days when your parents would put you on a flight trusting that another family member picks you up when you land?

  17. Tom Says:

    Had arrived there on a trip home from college just prior to the blast after arriving on a TWA from St. Louis. I was one of the first off the plane and to get my bag off the carousel. I caught a shuttle to Grand Central, then the subway home to Brooklyn. I arrived at my folk’s places to a hysterical mother who had seen the news and needless to say was overwhelmed when she met me at the door. Ten years later was telling this story to a workmate back in Missouri. She broke into tears. She told me that one of her best friends was no as lucky as me.

  18. Uncurrent Events 12.29.13 | YouViewed/Editorial Says:

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  19. Michael Wormley Says:

    I was on the TWA flight scheduled to land at LaGuardia but we got held up in the air circling the airport, we were later told had we landed on time we would have been picking up our bags as the bomb exploded and most of us would have also been injured or killed.

  20. Jim B Says:

    We were on final approach from a family vacation visiting grandparents/Disney in Orlando when the bomb went off. All of a sudden we went from our normal speed and glide-path to accelerating and regaining altitude. The captain came over the loudspeaker and announced that the main terminal at LaGuardia had just been bombed and we were being rerouted to JFK. The family members we had picking us up pulled in, luckily, just seconds after the explosion and before emergency crews arrived. They quickly turned and assumed we would be routed to JFK and met us there. Needless to say we were all quite scared until we connected at JFK and saw that we were all ok. Tragedy for the 11 who perished, though.

  21. Ron Lewis Says:

    I was there that horrible evening just arrived from Queens to catch a flight back to Greensboro, NC. I had just got out of the car to get my luggage when the bomb exploded. i got to experienced all the bodies laying on the ground that were killed and also got to see the ones that was injured. I had to catch a flight back home the next day fro JFK to Greensboro, NC. Because of this horrible tradegy, I now have PTSD and Have been on medication for panic attacks since the bombing. I will never forget that horrible night.
    Ron Lewis

  22. Kevin T. Kroencke Says:

    was there waiting for a flight back to my duty station -Ft. Riley Kansas. I was upstairs waiting for a boarding announcement for my flight when the bomb went off. My basic training must of paid off because I dove to the floor and covered up when I heard the explosion. Or at least I think that is what happened all I remember really was my father kicking me with his shoe yelling get up get up there are people hurt ( I was a medic) so I jumped up and starting trying to help those I could. What was really surreal was that there were still planes departing initially and they even made an announcement for my plane. Of course when we got downstairs it was a disaster and we got sent back upstairs. I was interviewed by the ABC station and the interview was even carried on national news where my unit saw me – thankfully didn’t want them to think I was AWOL. Kevin T. Kroencke

    • Michael Wormley Says:

      I was on that TWA flight and landed at Kennedy and was transported to LaGuardia where we saw the carnage and was told if we had landed on time the bomb would have killed most of us getting our bags

  23. Uncurrent Events 12.29.14 | YouViewed/Editorial Says:

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  24. Madeline Says:

    I was there also and I have never felt such fear. We were herded outside and across the highway to motels or hotels. I had a small poodle me which was given to me for Christmas in North Carolina. I was on my way back to Toronto. All the people around me were so helpful and caring, but it felt like we were in another world. All the years after I have felt so fortunate to have escaped the tragedy of all those poor innocent victims. When the explosion happened I was walking to a bar(with my little dog in his crate) and I felt like something had given me a huge push. It was all to terrible!!

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