Atomic Bomb Falls on Florence, SC
A B-47 Stratojet Bomber
An atomic bomb fell on Florence, SC, just miles from where I live. This shocking event happened in March of 1958, a time when our country feared the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. But how could an accident like this have happened and what does it say about the average American citizens’ safety?
The atomic bomb was carried aboard one of four B-47 “Stratojet” aircraft which had departed Hunter Air Force Base in Savannah, Georgia. It was part of “Operation Snow Flurry” and heading to an overseas base.
Fortunately, the nuclear weapon didn’t contain the removable core of fissionable uranium and plutonium. That was securely contained elsewhere on the bomber. But the bombs’ 7,600 lbs of high explosive TNT material still caused major property damage and a few minor physical injuries to Mr. Greggs’ family when it detonated.
According to a few of my neighbors whose parents were around when the accident occurred, the bomb, a Mark 6, fell on property belonging to a Mr. Walter Gregg living in the Mars Bluff community, where I live. They say the explosion created a mushroom cloud and a crater about 75 feet wide and 25-30 feet deep. Mr. Greggs’ home was said to be practically destroyed. There was also damage to a nearby church and 5 other homes in the immediate vicinity reported.
I recall my brother-in-laws’ father commenting about it. “I didn’t know what had happened”, he said. “But it sure rattled the rafters in my house and broke a few dishes that fell out of the kitchen cabinets. It also took a few days for me to fix some of the cracks in my walls.” Similar damage to other homes in the immediate area suffered like damage.
There’s a marker on the way into town which points to the location of the crater, but I haven’t gone to visit the site yet, but I plan to.
The Florence museum has a display commemorating the fateful day which I have been to see. I learned the cleanup efforts took several days and Air Force personnel had to recover hundreds of the bomb fragments which had been carried off by local souvenir hunters. Residents in the area also had to be examined for radiation exposure.
Amazingly, my community doesn’t have the singular distinction of being the only American city to have been bombed with a nuclear weapon by the United States Air Force. In 1961, a B-52 bomber exploded over Goldsboro and Faro, NC. You can read about that at
The Mars Bluff crater has been preserved as a local historical site, lest anyone forget .