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Witnesses, survivor gather to remember B-52 crash

Posted February 8, 2011

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— Eyewitnesses, firefighters and a survivor of a 1961 crash in Wayne County involving a plane equipped with nuclear weapons gathered Tuesday to remember the day.

"No one knew what was happening outside," said Adam Mattocks, who was among the Air Force crew members in the B-52 plane. 

At the time, the plane was carrying two nuclear weapons, each one containing more than 200 times the power of the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Military officials have since said the weapons came close to detonating during the crash.

In flight, the fuel tank burst and a wing fell off. The plane went down in a Pikeville field outside of Goldsboro. 

Billy Reeves, who was 18-year-old then, remembers the seeing a fireball in the sky and hearing a loud noise. 

Later, Reeves found three out of eight crew members did not survive. He also remembers the exhaustive search by the Air Force. 

The military later admitted they could not find one of the nuclear bombs the plane had carried.

"It is still in the field buried in the ground," Reeves said at the gathering on Tuesday. 

Witnesses, survivor gather to remember B-52 crash Witnesses, survivor remember B-52 plane crash

The field was a swamp when the plane crashed. Many residents believe the bomb sank deep into the earth and remains there. 

The crash happened so long ago, many residents said they are are not afraid the bomb will explode. Reeves said some are worried nuclear material might one day affect ground water.

13 Comments

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  • reneejernigan Feb 9, 6:53 p.m.

    That bomb might have broken up in that area, but the core is located somewhere else, approximately 6 to 7 miles south of Newton Grove, NC, alot of unanswered questions and confusion for instant, reports say the plane crashed around 2:00 am, while in the Kennedy White House diary it states that President Kennedy and his staff went underground around 2:00 pm on January 24, 1961.

  • roadman Feb 9, 6:20 p.m.

    My dad took us kids there to see the site. Its just up the road from an elementary school on Bid Daddy Rd near NC 111.

  • TheDude abides... Feb 9, 1:37 p.m.

    Fact-checked and confirmed.

    Geesh.

  • bgibson3 Feb 9, 11:48 a.m.

    The Government is just better at hiding things rather than finding things. They lost one off of Tybee Island, near Savannah, GA also, and haven't found that one either.

    Anyone seen the recent Public Service Announcement regarding what to do if you're in a city and a nuclear bomb goes off?

  • johnsod27330 Feb 9, 10:58 a.m.

    Here is another link to the crash. It says the second bomb disintegrated and that the only pieces not recovered was the plutonium. It is supposedly buried deep in the ground. The AF purchased the site.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1961_Goldsboro_B-52_crash

  • Bill Brasky Feb 9, 10:36 a.m.

    Guess that would explain why the tobacco in Pikesville use to grow 100 feet high.

  • mrbigt032j Feb 9, 10:33 a.m.

    iLIVE ABOUT 8 MILES FROM THIS SITE THEY DUG FOR THE BOMB BUT IT WAS LIKE QUICK SAND AND THE MORE THEY DUG THE DEPPER IN WENT AND THEY GAVE UP AFTER ABOUT 3 MONTHS

  • r77s Feb 9, 9:58 a.m.

    @Ol Forrester, there have been many "broken arrow" incidents over the years. I can assure you that there is indeed a bomb there http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/ops/broken-arrow.htm

  • jamesebyerly Feb 9, 9:57 a.m.

    http://www.ibiblio.org/bomb/
    here is an additional account of the events of that day

  • Let-it-be-said Feb 9, 9:47 a.m.

    I would think its pretty important to find that bomb before someone else does. That doesn't need to stay there. We have the technology to find it.

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