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Tour Bus Ambush


Today we are accustomed to hearing stories of terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Europe, and even closer to home. Forty-five years ago, such tales were not so common, but there were terrorist incidents. In February, 1970, a Swissair plane bound for Israel crashed in Switzerland after an explosion on board. Everyone on board was killed. Another European plane bound for Israel was also brought down by an explosion. It was widely believed that Arab terrorists were to blame.

Despite those events, two Turtle Lake residents embarked on a trip of a lifetime that would take them to the Middle East. After visiting Rome and Athens, they arrived in Tel Aviv where they joined a bus tour with other members of the Baptist Life Association.

On this date in 1970, the Bismarck Tribune reported that the two North Dakotans, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Schlichenmeyer, were involved in a terrorist ambush. The bus was near Hebron on the West Bank in Israel when it came under attack. One woman was killed, and three others, including the Israeli guide, were wounded. A similar tour bus had been the target of an attack in the same area the previous year. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine took credit for those attacks, and for the downed airplanes.

The couple’s daughter, a Minot resident, reported learning of the attack on television, but she hadn’t connected it with her parents. Her parents had assured her that the tour was only going to places that were completely safe. While they were shaken, her parents were unharmed. She said she wanted her parents to come home immediately, but they stuck with the tour, determined to see it through.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Bismarck Tribune, 24 February, 1970:

“Turtle Lake Couple Sees Woman Die”

“Arab Condemnation Grows”