Steve Sung: Port Kaituma Airstrip Survivor Now Leads a Quiet Life

As a documentary series living up to its title in every way conceivable, Hulu’s ‘Cult Massacre: One Day in Jonestown’ can honestly only be described as baffling and haunting. That’s because it comprises not just archival footage but also exclusive interviews to really shine a light upon the largest mass murder-suicide in American history, taking a total of 918 lives. At one point, Stephen “Steve” Sung did believe he’d lose his life too, yet he fortunately managed to survive with the help of acquaintances, alcohol, plus the quick actions of US military officials.

Steve Sung Was Shot in the Arm

It was November 18, 1978, when the entire world turned upside down for Steve Sung as the gunmen of the Peoples Temple cult opened fire at him as a part of the Jonestown massacre in the Port Kaituma airstrip shootings. Congressman Leo Ryan, San Francisco Examiner photographer Greg Robinson, NBC cameraman Bob Brown, NBC reporter Don Harris, plus Temple defector Patricia Parks had lost their lives that day, but several more were injured. Amongst them was Steve, who was serving as a sound technician for NBC at the time and had already witnessed his partner Bob Brown being shot.

According to Steve’s own account, a leather shoulder strap attached to his equipment saved his life by deflecting a bullet fired into his shoulder, but he was also wounded in the forearm. As a result, he tried to play dead when the gunmen made rounds before returning to their base, following which he found shelter at an open bar space nearby and was made to drink alcohol by his fellow survivors so as to avoid internal infections. Hours later, the Temple’s leader, Jim Jones, also led his followers to commit mass murder-suicide, yet neither he nor anyone knew about it until later – the airstrip victims had been rescued and flown to an air force base in Maryland.

Steve Sung is Now Retired

Although Steve managed to survive Jonestown, the emotional trauma of it is something that hangs over his head like a dark cloud to this day, not only because he can still remember his pain and the feeling of nearly dying away from his loved ones, but also because of the 912 other lives lost. As if that’s not enough, he still carries the physical scars from that fateful day, too – the bullet wounds had been from a rifle, so they’d torn his skin apart, and the scars of it, despite treatment, do remain. Coming to Steve’s personal standing, it appears as if the sound professional had eventually evolved into a freelance video editor prior to retiring, meaning he’s now simply leading a quiet life in Glendale, California, where he built a family of his own to be surrounded by them to this day.

Read More: Tim Reiterman: Jonestown Airstrip Survivor is Still a Proud Journalist Today