air force

Wayback Wednesday: Tybee Island Bomb Accident 1958

Posted on

Tybee Bomb Image One
Image Credit: cafepress.com
Silkscreen Image For T-shirts

America lost a bomb. I’m not kidding. Sixty-two years ago, today, the United States Air Force dropped a nuclear bomb in the water off the coast of Tybee Island, very close to Savannah, Georgia. A North American Aviation F-86 Sabrejet fighter plane and a Boeing B-47 Stratojet strategic bomber collided during practicing exercises and, in fear of a detonation in the event of a crash, the crew jettisoned the bomb. They still haven’t found it and it is assumed to be somewhere at the bottom of Wassaw Sound.

Midair Collision:

The B-47 bomber was on a simulated combat mission from Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. It was carrying a single 7,600-pound bomb. At about 2:00am EST, an F-86 fighter collided with the B-47. The F-86 crashed after the pilot ejected from the plane. The damaged B-47 remained airborne, plummeting 18,000 feet from 38,000 feet when [the pilot] regained flight control. The crew requested permission to [drop] the bomb in order to reduce weight and prevent the bomb from exploding during an emergency landing. Permission was granted and the bomb was jettisoned at 7,200 feet […]. The crew did not see an explosion when the bomb struck the sea. They managed to land the B-47 safely at […] Hunter Air Force Base. The pilot, a Colonel Howard Richardson, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after this incident.

Tybee Bomb Image Two
Image Credit: npr.org

The Bomb:

Some sources describe the bomb as a functional nuclear weapon but, others describe it as disabled. If it had a plutonium nuclear core installed, it was a fully functional weapon. If it had a dummy core installed, it was incapable of producing a nuclear explosion but, could still produce a conventional explosion. […] The Air Force maintains that its nuclear capsule, used to initiate the nuclear reaction, was removed before its flight aboard B-47. […] the bomb contained a simulated 150-pound cap made of lead. However, according to 1966 Congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary of Defense W.J. Howard, the Tybee Island bomb was a “complete weapon, a bomb with a nuclear capsule” and one of two weapons lost that contained a plutonium trigger. Nevertheless, a study of the Strategic Air Command documents indicates that Alert Force test flights in February 1958 with the older Mark 15 payloads were not authorized to fly with nuclear capsules on board.

The collision, and its aftermath, also drives the plot of the novel Three Chords & The Truth by Craig McDonald, published in November 2016.

Missing For 50 Years (BBC News)
This Day In Aviation (This site claims the bomber was from MacDill Air Force Base)
Lost H-Bomb: RIP (Savannah Now Archive)
The Case of the Missing H-Bomb (Counterpunch Archive)
The Colonel and the Bomb (The Atlantic)

Throwback Thursday: Flatwoods Monster 1952

Posted on Updated on

Flatwoods Monster Image One
Image Credit: ESP Realm Blog

Sixty-seven years ago, today, Flatwoods, WV, in Braxton County, was the site of a reported encounter with a scary entity. At 7:15pm:

[May] brothers Ed, 13, and Freddie, 12, had been playing in their schoolyard with their 10-year-old friend Tommy Hyer. After noticing a pulsing red light streak across the sky and crash on a nearby farm, the three youngsters ran to grab the Mays boys’ mother, then high-tailed it up that hill to check out where the light had landed. A few other boys, one with a dog, showed up, too.

Flatwoods Monster Image Two
Image Credit: history.com
Original drawing by a New York sketch artist.

They ran back down, in sheer and credible terror.

“Seven Braxton County residents on Saturday reported seeing a 10-foot Frankenstein-like monster in the hills above Flatwoods,” a local newspaper reported afterward. “A National Guard member, [17-year-old] Gene Lemon, was leading the group when he saw what appeared to be a pair of bright eyes in a tree.”

Lemon screamed and fell backward, the news account said, “when he saw a 10-foot monster with a blood-red body and a green face that seemed to glow.” It may have had claws for hands. It was hard to tell because of the dense mist.

The story made the local news, then got picked up by national radio and big papers all over the country […]. Mrs. May and the National Guard kid ended up going to New York to talk to CBS […].

But, rattled eyewitnesses weren’t the only reason the story took off. Americans were truly frightened in 1952, made anxious by atomic bombs and what seemed like a new world made by mad scientists. Even LIFE magazine, probably the most popular publication in the nation at the time, had, just a few months earlier, published a seemingly credible trend story about flying saucers. Spook stories sprout best when the seed lands in a bed fertile with anxiety and that was 1952 Cold War America […]. [I]t prompted a U.S. Air Force UFO inquiry, part of a project called Project Blue Book that dispatched a handful of investigators around the country to look into such claims.

Flatwoods Monster Image Three
Photo Credit: history.com &
Flatwoods Monster Museum

One writer who stoked the story (a lot) was Gray Barker, a Braxton County native who investigated the monster and, then, became one of the more prominent UFO myth makers, ever. It was Barker who wrote about Flatwoods, then introduced the mythology of government “Men in Black” after he heard that two Air Force investigators had “reportedly” shown up in Flatwoods, posing as magazine writers.

Flatwoods Monster Image Four
Photo Credit: wikipedia.org & wikimedia.org
Flatwoods Monster Chair

People grin about it now and take Monster souvenir money from hundreds of Monster tourists every week. But, it scared people plenty back then […]. “One of the boys peed his pants,” said John Gibson, a high-school freshman at the time, who knew them all. “Their dog (Rickie) ran with his tail between his legs.”

To this day, tourists come out of their way to Flatwoods to visit its monster museum and buy Green Monsters and t-shirts. Freddie and Ed are still alive and, still standing by their story. They are in their late 70s now. They are no longer talking to reporters. They got tired after 100,000 interviews […]. [T]he brothers did appear in a recent documentary about the Flatwoods Phantom.

[The Air Force] concluded that bright, but common, meteors had streaked across the eastern U.S. at dusk that night, seen by many in Baltimore, among other places. And, the monster with the claw-like arms? Likely an owl, they said.

And, so, the Flatwoods Monster, also known as the Green Monster, [or] the Phantom of Flatwoods, who was reportedly seven feet tall, or 10 feet tall, or 13 feet tall, or 17 feet tall, became that most peculiar American invention…a legend emblazoned on t-shirts. [Source]

Flatwoods Monster Episode on The History Channel’s Project Blue Book

Shutterbug Saturday: The Wall That Heals

Posted on Updated on

The Wall That Heals Image One
All Photos Are Personal Collection 10-19-2018

Yesterday, my friend Ray and I went to see The Wall That Heals. It came to Wake Forest, NC, over the weekend, sponsored by the Wake Forest Purple Heart Foundation and held at the E. Carroll Joyner Park.

In a previous post, I talked about nearly being an Army brat. I also could have potentially been fatherless as 2nd Lieutenants had short life spans in Vietnam, but…that was not my fate…nor, the fate of my father.

I do not personally know anyone that died in Vietnam. I have no names to scratch for my own memories but, my partner, my ‘significant other’ knew many that perished as he was in country 1967-1968 with the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 (PDF) at Camp Haskins-South, Red Beach, Da Nang . There will be a future post on him.

Veteran Dave Image Two
A veteran named Dave. He was grieving and I gave him a copy of this.
Travis & Mark Image Three
A veteran named Travis (left). A veteran named Mark. Each received a copy.
Mother & Daughter Image Four
Mother and daughter. I tried to share to the daughter but, I messed up the phone number.


Ray Image Five
Ray scanning names.

Little Ones Image Six
The little ones with their Mom. She wanted them to understand.
Cover Image Seven
Veteran Travis left a ball cap/cover for his USS Oriskany shipmates that perished in a fire in 10-26-1966. The two reflections are me & veteran Travis.
Dale R Buis Image Eight
Dale R. Buis, the first casualty.
Van De Geer Image Nine
Richard Van De Geer, the last ‘known’ casualty.
Flags Image Ten
Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines & Coast Guard (right to left).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~Never Forget~