Author’s note: In response to letters like this one, we are making a final drive before July 17 to pressure the government to reopen the investigation. This will include a special petition for pilots and others in the aviation community soon to be found at If this anniversary goes by without justice, or at least an attempt to seek it, the forces of injustice will have prevailed.

Dear Mr. Cashill,

I read your book, “First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America,” and found it not only very well written, but also very enlightening and educational. I have wanted to write to you, but given the topic and the very personal impact TWA800 had on my life, it is more than difficult. Let me start by saying that when I follow my gut instincts, I find I am usually right. You may ask what this has to do with your book or the tragic event of July 17, 1996, and the downing of TWA800. Allow me to try and explain.

On July 17, 1996, my son, Yonatan Rojany, was scheduled to be on TWA Flight 841 bound for Rome, Italy. That evening, when I returned from work, I went about my normal routine of turning on the television to watch the news while preparing dinner. On the news, I saw a television screen filled with night and a black ocean consumed by fire.

As I was listening to the report and heard that it was TWA800, I knew my son was on that flight even though he was scheduled to be on another. I won’t go through all the details of what occurred and how I found out that he in fact was on TWA800, but my gut feelings were correct, and he was on that flight.

Soon thereafter, I traveled to New York to join the other family members of TWA800 and to await the recovery of our loved ones. Everyday, I knew that my son would not be found, and everyday I was right. When I woke up on the morning of July 30, 1996, my first thoughts were … “Today! Today, Yon will be found!” In the late morning, I was driven out to Smith Point to put flowers in the ocean and to be as close as possible to my son.

Never having been to that area before, I had no idea where it was or how long the trip would take. As soon as we parked and I started to get out of the car, I looked at my watch to see the time. It was 12:35 p.m. At that moment I said, “Yon, you can’t just lay there! You have to move or shout or do something so they’ll find you!” Soon after I returned to the hotel, I was beckoned to the 6th floor where the New York Police Department was coordinating recoveries. There I was told that my son had been found. My gut feeling that morning proved correct. I don’t know why, but I asked the officer what time Yon was found. He told me, “12:35 p.m.” Again, my gut feelings were correct.

During the entire time I was in New York, I knew that TWA800 was taken down by a terrorist organization. While at the hotel, I frequently spoke to James Kallstrom, the head of the FBI in New York, and he told me he too felt it was an act of terrorism.

During the entire time of the investigation, I called the National Transportation Safety Board almost daily and spoke to [then public affairs director, later managing director] Peter Goelz or his assistant, Betty. They did their best to assure me that it was mechanical failure and not a terrorist attack. I am not able to explain to you specifically why I didn’t believe them, but I didn’t. Too many things I was told just didn’t make sense. When I am told to blindly believe something because an “official” tells me it is so, it doesn’t generally work for me. I require concrete facts, not hypotheses.

Now after reading your book, “First Strike,” it has become clear that again my gut feeling was right – TWA800 was not brought down by mechanical failure.

Shortly after the crash, President Clinton came to the hotel and visited with the families. He personally told me he would do everything to find the exact cause of the crash. Now that I have learned that (presumably under President Clinton’s command) not only did the government not work to uncover the truth, but, quite the opposite. They worked to cover it! How can I, or anyone, trust our government? How could the president be so mendacious? How can I trust that the NTSB is really investigating any incident when they were not even allowed to investigate this one, and yet somehow they miraculously came up with a cause of the crash? How can I trust our FBI when James Kallstrom, who was their chief investigator in New York, lied to me?

I realize that knowing the facts of what really happened will not change the final outcome. However, dealing with what happened would be somewhat more manageable if I were dealing with the truth and not fabrications.

After all of this time, and given the fact that we are now at war with terrorism, it would be reassuring to know that our government has developed a conscience and would want to right a clear wrong. A full, complete and impartial investigation needs to be done so that the TWA 800 families and all Americans know exactly what happened on that horrific night of July 17, 1996.

I personally want to thank you for taking so much time and energy to seek the truth and make it available to all. Finally. I hope and pray that that there will be a public outcry for the truth!

Lisa Michelson

Los Angeles, Calif.

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