Remembering the day an atomic bomb fell on SC - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Remembering the day an atomic bomb fell on SC

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FLORENCE, SC (WIS) - It's easy to miss as you drive through Florence: a historic marker on the side of highway 301, letting you know that an atomic bomb was mistakenly dropped nearby.

It happened in 1958.  But witnesses say it seems like it happened yesterday.

It was about 3 in the afternoon when the sky fell on Walter Gregg.

"I was in the back yard," said Gregg.  "And I heard this explosion, boom!"

A little more than 60 yards away from Gregg's home, what he thought was a plane crashing, was the impact of a 7,000-pound atomic bomb.

It was dropped when the crew of a B-47 flying miles above pushed the wrong bottom.

"There was smoke and dust, you couldn't see 15 feet," said Gregg. "There was so much smoke."

Luckily the bomb was being moved without it's plutonium core.  If it had been fully assembled, the outcome would have been a lot different.

"There would have been nothing within 10 miles of the hole," said  Gregg. 

The accident drew worldwide attention.

Gregg became a local celebrity who got used to the questions.

"How did it feel to have that bomb drop on you, what'd you do? Did it knock you down?" Gregg said he was asked.  

"It is neat to come back here to the crater site every so often," he said.

Walter's nephew, Clyde Gregg, still lives nearby.

Pictures and a life-sized plywood bomb stand near the crater.

"When it detonated, it felt like the whole house raised up," said Clyde Gregg, who was 6 at the time.

Clyde still has a piece of the bomb he found weeks later in a nearby field.

"Not many people can say we had a bomb fall in our back yard,"  said Clyde.

You might say that makes Walter, at 92, one of the luckiest unlucky guys in the state.

"I'm still here," said Walter.  "I must've been lucky."

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