Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BOMARC Broken Arrow Witness Checks In

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BOMARC Nuke Missle Broken Arrow Witness Checks In

When I first discovered the White Deer an old Piney told me that they were contaminated by radiation from the BOMARC missle meltdown. While I know that is now a Piney Myth, I looked into the BOMARC story and found that on June 7, 1960, a fire errputed at the BOMARC base on the far northeast side of Fort Dix/McGuire AFB, now Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst - JBMDL.

I learned what happned from news reports, but couldn't locate any witnesses who were actually there at the time, and wrote up what I learned in an article posted here:
WMD - Weapons of Mass Destruction In My Backyard, that as far as I know, noone has ever read.

In any case, the 60th anniversary of the event came and went on June 7, 2010, with scant notice in the media, but I did attend a public briefing of the clean up efforts then still being undertaken at the Cookstown Municiple building.

I think I was the only reporter present among the dozen there, and I sat next to Col. Grasso, now General Grasso and the Commander of JBMDL on one side, and a young, twenty something guy on my other side, who I later learned was actually responsible for the cleanup of the contamination itself.

The fire that consumed one of the missles totally destroyed the missle itself, and melted the nuke tipped bomb, which everyone would have known about if it exploded.

The local New Egypt Volunteer Fire Department and others put out the fire the best way they knew how - by pouring water on it, which then dissipitated through the sandy soil or flowed out in concrete drainage ditches and under the highway 557 to the Colliers Wildlife Refuage across the street.

As was explained in the briefing and slide show, much of the debree and top soil was removed and trucked away, by pineys to who knows where, but the recent effort focused on the radioactive contamination in the remaining soil that they said was easy to locate and remove - which they did with paint brushes and spoons. The radioactive elements were very heavey, and large, so they could be recognized and scooped up by the brushes into the spoons and then combined so they knew exactly how much they retreived and how much was still missing.

In the end, the most disturbing aspect of the whole briefing was the fact that they acknowledged they didn't know what became of the large, metal rocket launcher, a 47 foot long metal girder that weighed a ton, or a large water drainage pipe that ran under the road and was removed sometime after the incident, but who knows where?

Well now, thanks to Jim Fridley, we know where the rocket launcher went - to a Trenton junk yard.

According to an Editoral in the (Sunday, May 1, 2011) Trentonian newspaper (By Dave Neese), Jim Fridley, who now lives in Nixa, Mo., in the Ozark Mountains, looked up the BOMARC meltdown on the internet, and came across some articles published in The Trentonian and contacted them.

Fridley, at the time of the incident, was an 18 year old in the Air Force, who was working very close to the missle that exploded.

According to the offical report, "The missle launcher is believed to have been moved...shorlty after the accident. However, its location remains unknown, and no verified record indicating the method of disposal is known to exist."

Well Fridley recalls that they placed the launcher on the back of a truck and he escourted it to a scrapyard in West Trenton.

It shouldn't be hard to find a 1960 junk yard in West Trenton where it was taken and see if they have any records.

And now, with that mystery solved, the Army Corp of Engineers or the Ocean County Roads Department should be able to determine what became of the missing dranage pipe that ran under the road.

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