Long-lost nuke…

14 years ago Comments Off on Long-lost nuke…

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (AP) – For the first time in 46 years, the Air Force last week led a team of experts to investigate reports of radiation traces that might reveal the bomb’s location.

“I thought it was over here, and then I kept hearing it was over there,” said handyman Harold Michael, wildly pointing in several directions from his seat at the bar at Cafe Loco. “You listen about and there’s probably a thousand stories out here.”

Islanders remain divided over whether the Air Force should recover the bomb or leave it. The government says the Mark-15 nuke is incapable of an atomic explosion, though it still contains about 400 pounds of conventional explosives.

Some residents have responded to the search with humor. Financial adviser Joe Rochefort said he’s conspiring with friends to form a “volunteer bomb squad” to spoof the search.

“We’re going to wrap up in blankets with divining rods and inner tubes and go out there and find the damn thing,” Rochefort said. “We like the notoriety. It’s just something to talk about.”

Others, like technical writer Ernie Love, see a more serious side to the search.

“It’s good that they’re looking for it and taking care of business, which they probably should have done 50 years ago,” Love said over a cold beer at Doc’s Bar. “Just think if it would fall into terrorists’ hands.”

Three years ago, island Mayor Walter Parker and the City Council sent a resolution to the Air Force, asking that the bomb be located before the military declared it non-threatening. Five months later, the Air Force rejected a renewed search.

Now, Derek Duke, a retired Air Force pilot who has privately sought the lost bomb for five years, says he has detected radiation patterns that likely mark the bomb’s resting place near the southern tip of uninhabited Little Tybee Island, about four miles south of the Tybee beach community.

So the military sent a team of 20 experts to gather water and soil samples Thursday. A final report will not be ready for several weeks.

Glenn Smith said he has been tempted to fetch the nuke himself.

“I asked a friend, ‘Can I borrow your boat?’ I said, ‘I think I can go get it,”’ he said, pointing on a navigational chart to the spot where his father believes he snared the bomb _ about two miles from where the Air Force investigated.

Smith’s father, who says he let the mystery drop after retrieving his net, sees no need for anyone to hunt for the lost bomb.

“My thought is, no. It’s been there all these years,” he said. “I see no reason. Let sleeping dogs lie.”