Episode 318:

One Spiritual Moment

The Shooting of Nicholas Green


The 1971 Nashville Plane Hijacking


Episode 318: One Spiritual Moment

On today's episode, Georgia and Karen cover the shooting of Nicholas Green and the 1971 Nashville plane hijacking.

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The Shooting of Nicholas Green

The Shooting of Nicholas Green Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Luca Micheli on Unsplash

Other Images:

Nicholas Green (via BBC)

Nicholas Green memorial in Bodega Bay (Lynndonner via Wikipedia)


"Criminals in Italy rarely kill children, Green says, because it makes the police so determined to catch the killers. This is what happened in Nicholas's case. A no-holds-barred police investigation resulted in the arrest and conviction of two men, Francesco Mesiano and Michele Iannello.

It's still unclear whether the men were robbers, or hitmen who attacked the wrong car in a case of mistaken identity, but the fact that one of them employs one of Italy's top lawyers suggests to Green that they have mafia connections.

"The killing of a seven-year-old American boy in a country where violent death is commonplace has plunged Italy into national soul-searching," the Times reported. Green says that the idea of an innocent child being shot while on holiday in the country made many Italians feel ashamed - and led them to embrace the idea of organ donation as a way of making amends.

"The work we have done to remind them of how much good could come out of this has had this quite astonishing effect which we couldn't possibly have foreseen. A country that was almost at the bottom for organ donation in Europe could immediately move almost to the top. No other country has tripled organ donation."

In 1993, the year before Nicholas was shot, 6.2 people per million donated an organ, while by 2006 the figure had reached 20 per million. During that period, in 1999, Italy moved to an opt-out system, where when someone dies it is presumed they are willing for their organs to be donated unless they have specified otherwise.

France, Greece, Portugal and Spain also use an opt-out system, while the US and UK (with the exception of Wales) continue to operate an opt-in system.

"Nicholas was a kindly boy who always looked for the best in things so, when you were with him, you always wanted to be your best," explains his father.

"I know that at seven years old he probably wouldn't have been able to comprehend but, I know, as he grew up this is just what he would have wanted us to do - there's no doubt about that.

"If the choice was between being angry at the people who did it and wanting to help somebody else as the first priority, he would have undoubtedly chosen helping somebody out."

Green, who worked as a journalist on Fleet Street for many years before moving to the US, says his son taught him a lot about tolerance. "I'm impatient and when things go wrong, I get het up about it," he says. "Nicholas had a calmness about it all and a forgivingness that made you want to be the same."

Nothing could have prepared Green for the moment he came face-to-face with those people whose lives were saved by Nicholas's organs..."

 — Source: BBC article by Harry Low

The 1971 Nashville Plane Hijacking

The 1971 Nashville Plane Hijacking Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Other Images:

Twin-engine plane (via StoryCorps.org)

Bobby Wayne Wallace (via Murfeesboropost.com)


"Susan Germaine Giffe, 25, spills out of a Cadillac and onto the tarmac in a mod-flower-print dress. It's 1:30 a.m. at the Nashville airport. Susan, a head-turner with dark, wide-set eyes and straight chestnut hair, is screaming at the pilots who are talking to her estranged husband less than 100 feet away.

"I'm being kidnapped! Help!"

The pilots and her estranged husband, George Giffe, Jr., 35, a 6-foot-2-inch, 250-pound former college biology professor, approach the hysterical woman. Giffe's associate—a burly nightclub owner named Bobby Wayne Wallace—follows behind her.

The tarmac is black save for the lights tracing the runway borders and the floodlights from the nearby hangar of Big Brother Aircraft.

Giffe explains that he's a doctor; the screaming woman is his patient. He's taking her to Atlanta for treatment. Pilot Randall G. Crump wonders if she should fly in this condition.

"I'm being kidnapped! Don't believe what they say!"

Pilot Brent Downs, 29, asks Giffe for his credentials. Giffe pulls a 9mm pistol concealed by a tiger-stripe camouflage shirt and points it at the pilot. This is his credential. He orders Wallace—who allegedly thought he was just giving his friend a ride to the airport—to pull the 9mm Giffe handed him earlier.

"Everybody on the plane," Giffe shouts. Wallace will later claim that he too was forced to board at gunpoint.  

A Big Brother Aircraft employee sees the guns from a distance and phones airport security.

Inside the plane, Wallace sits behind the pilot. Giffe and Susan sit on a bench seat in the rear of the cabin. Giffe asks for a flask from the plane's mini-bar, then informs all aboard that the gray metal box on his lap contains plastic explosives. He claims to be working for the CIA. If the pilots interfere with his mission, he'll kill them.

The pilots are ordered to take off as Susan alternately screams and sobs. The aircraft taxis toward the runway.

Airport police have been notified and are radioing the control tower: Pilot Downs' aircraft, call sign 58 November, has been hijacked..."

— Source: Nashville Scene article by Brantley Hargrove