Air Force bombs South Carolina
By Joseph Parish
Picture yourselfas Captain Earl Koehler, a young military pilot of a B-52 and you have been tasked to fly a special mission. This special mission involves transporting two nuclear bombs in support of “Operation Snow Flurry” to some unknown North African location. Your home station is Hunter Air Force Base just outside of Savannah, Georgia. You begin this mission as you would any other by carefully reviewing your aircraft pre-flight checklist. As you conclude your flight checks you deem all system are a go and cast a quick glance skyward. All seems well with the weather and you are blessed with a clear and bright sky so you anticipate no particular problems.
Your aircraft, number 876 is scheduled for departure at a little before 3 PM on the 11th of March and as you taxi down the runway you look forward to your twelve hour flight with a bit of excitement. You proceed to trim your six jet engines to a smooth roar and level your aircraft off at fifteen thousand feet above the ground, than its time to lean back and relax a bit.
As you approach a small community known as Mars Bluff you notice one of your warning lights flashing like crazy on the cockpit instrument panel. This particular indicator light is informing you that your payload of bombs is not properly secured in the aircraft bomb bay. You mention this to your co-pilot and he indicates that it is nothing serious but only an uncooperative bulb and there is nothing to fear. In an effort to correct the situation as well as to appease you the co-pilot strikes the red warning light with the butt from his 45 service revolver. As you glance back at the light on the panel you notice it goes off momentarily. At that point you start to suspect that perhaps something is drastically wrong.
As a precaution you instruct your navigator, Captain Bruce Kulka to physically check the bomb bay and when he returns he informs you that the small bomb was not properly locked into place. No sooner does he make his discovery known to you he than returns to the bay to attempts repositioning the bomb and engaging the harness locking pin. Unfortunately as fate would have it Captain Kulka inadvertently grabs the bombs emergency release pin instead.
You immediately hear the rumble of the bomb bay doors start to open and feel your 6-kiloton nuclear bomb descending towards the earth below. Does this sound like an active imagination? No I am afraid it isn’t. This exact scenario took place in Georgia in 1958.
Supposedly the accident could not have resulted from in a nuclear explosion since during transport of the bombs the nuclear rods are kept separate from the actual Mark 6 nuclear bomb. There are however still enough explosive force to create havoc wherever they may be dropped.
Little is mentioned of this incident as the government as well as the Air Force would prefer it to be forgotten. Nuclear mishaps occurred regularly during our cold war stand offs with the Soviet Union but these particular bombs just happened to be dropped on our own soil.
In view of the fact that there was 76,000 pounds of TNT enclosed in each of the dropped 2,000 pound bombs, it could still contribute a great amount of conventional damage upon impact. Once the blast has taken place it not only creates a tremendous amount of smoke and whirlwinds of dust but is powerful enough to create craters as much as 75 foot wide and at least 30 feet deep. The bomb’s forces will catapult hundred pound chunks of earth skyward which in themselves are capable of destroying homes and surrounding structures.
Naturally as soon as the military authorities were notified, proper personal were dispatched from both Myrtle Beach and Shaw Air Force bases in order to secure the area. Nuclear experts were ordered into the location to ensure that no nuclear contamination was present while the citizens of this normally quit community were routinely provided radiation exposure tests.
The nuclear bomb which exploded on solid ground was quickly neutralized by the Air Force however the bomb’s twin was more difficult to locate. Since the area was excessively swampy only small parts of the bomb were retrieved. The portion which contained the nuclear material is supposedly still one hundred and fifty feet down in the swamp. It is believed that the government purchased the property where the second bomb landed so no one could attempt to retrieve it.
Copyright @2011 Joseph Parish