Today, the remarkable Reba McEntire is celebrating her 68th birthday, a milestone that highlights the countless accolades she has earned throughout her illustrious career. For me, her music has been a constant companion, and I still find myself listening to her songs several times a week.

However, Reba’s journey hasn’t been free of hardship. This year marks the 32nd anniversary of a devastating plane crash that took the lives of several of her friends and band members.

After making her mark in country music in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Reba McEntire was named “best singer” by the Country Music Association for four consecutive years. She also earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Despite her incredible career and numerous achievements, Reba has faced significant personal challenges. In 2022, her mother, Jacqueline, passed away at the age of 93 after battling cancer.

“She had a wonderful, full, healthy life and was absolutely ready to go. The cancer might think it won the battle, but we’re giving God all the credit on selecting the time for her to go home to Him,” Reba shared on social media.

Jacqueline McEntire had always dreamed of being a professional country singer and passed her passion for music to Reba, helping her realize that dream.

“She left knowing how much she is loved, and we all know how much she loved us. We’re all going to miss her, but we have so many wonderful memories,” Reba said.

Reba is no stranger to sorrow and loss. Thirty-two years ago, on March 16, 1991, she lost seven of her band members and her tour manager in a tragic plane crash after a concert.

I remember that day vividly. I was driving to work when I heard about the crash on the radio. My heart sank, fearing that Reba was on the plane.

Fortunately, she wasn’t.

Reba and her band had performed in San Diego and were set to fly to Fort Wayne, Indiana, for their next concert. Two planes were at the San Diego airport—one for the band members and tour manager, who flew ahead, while Reba, her husband, and manager stayed behind.

Tragically, the first aircraft crashed just ten miles east of the airport.

Reba has often paid tribute to her lost friends over the years. In a poignant interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2012, she recalled the tragic day.

“The tip of the wing of the airplane hit a rock on the side of Otay Mountain, and it killed everyone on the plane,” Reba recounted to Winfrey.

“When we received the notification, Narvel (Reba’s manager) went to meet with our pilot, and he informed us about what had happened. Narvel returned to the hotel room where I was—it was two or three o’clock in the morning—and he said one of the planes had crashed. I asked, ‘Are they OK?’ He replied, ‘I don’t think so.’ I said, ‘But you’re not sure?’ He said, ‘I don’t think so.’”

Reba had tears in her eyes as she remembered the tragic event.

“Narvel was going room to room with a phone and calling…” she paused, tears welling up. “I’m sorry—it’s been 20 years, but it’s just like—I don’t guess it ever quits hurting. But I can see that room. I can see Narvel walking back and forth.”

Now, 32 years have passed since the crash. Recently, she shared a photo of her band on Instagram, reflecting on the tragic events of that day.

In 2020, she posted another tribute to her friends. “29 years ago today, I lost my friends in a plane crash. The timing of Mama’s passing with that anniversary seems appropriate,” she wrote. “I know they’re all in Heaven together and taking care of each other. Let’s keep finding ways to take care of each other down here on earth and never take one moment with our loved ones for granted.”

Reba’s fans have always shown their support, sending her positive thoughts and prayers.

“Reba, I’ve always loved your music, our shared horse background, and now following you on Insta. Prayers for you and your mother,” one fan wrote.

In 2023, Reba continues to honor her friends’ memory, never forgetting their tragic loss.

“Their love for music and the stage gives us all the strength to go on,” she wrote, sharing a video of the group performing together.