Hell Week Continues...
***Miss Paul has asked that her face not be shown to protect her identity***
Someone sneezed on my camera!!!>>>
I love this picture...Friday after the horrifying shooting. Lori and Ralph Villela, two friends from work, were leaving Fairchild, and had a going-away luncheon. Miimii and I went and it was nice. There was still life on the other side of death. We all laughed and shook off the horrible events of the week. Lori asked to take this picture of Miimii and I (I'm wearing my brand-new shoes!).After this I drove Miimii back to our house on base.
Goodbye to you all>>>
There was a B-52 practicing for the airshow. The base commander had decided to go ahead with the annual airshow on June 25th, despite the shooting on the 20th. I guess he thought it would lift our spirits. Miimii, being superstitious, didn't want to be on base for the airshow. She had a feeling something bad was going to happen, and so we planned to be out of town.
Lieutenant Colonel Holland, known for being able to fly the wings off the B-52 (he'd do rolls and vertical climbs!) was practicing for the airshow at low-level, buzzing the base and showing off. Most base personnel would stand outside their buildings to watch him practice. Miimii and I were both concerned over how dangerous it was for a B-52 to be flown in such a way so close to the ground. As we drove past the base Miimii became upset over it.
We'll never forget you>>>
After I dropped Miimii off at the house I drove back to work and observed the huge bomber flying directly overhead...and thought how easily I could be killed if something were to fall off that airplane onto my car.
I went to work while most of my office was watching the B-52 perform out on the porch. Then the building shook a little and my friend Ron Doerr ran into the office and screamed,"The B-52 just crashed!"
But this moment we will not want to remember>>>
I ran outside and there was a huge cloud of black smoke rising from, what looked like base housing, where we lived. I ran into the office as fast as I could and called Miimii...I couldn't get through at first and then she answered.
She was okay...my sense of direction was off. She didn't know anything had happened, but when I told her there had been a crash, the fuel in the wreckage started exploding, shaking the house and she got very scared and started crying. I couldn't break loose from work so I asked her to go see our priest, Father Rompa, until I could get home. I phoned him and told him she was on her way.
In the darkest hour of our time>>>
My co-workers and I sat on the outside steps, watching the wreckage burn...not a word was said. We'd lost three of our friends. We worked very closely with the B-52's and aircrews, and knew most of them personally.

It was dead silent. The black smoke rose and settled in the still evening air and expanded into an ominous mushroom cloud, hovering over Fairchild, gripping us for the rest of the afternoon. We were sitting in the hand of death.
The bomber had crashed in the Fairchild Survival School next to a dangerous turn on one of my cycling routes. Months earlier I'd observed oncoming traffic on this fast, sweeping turn, leaning dangerously close to me on my tiny little bicycle. I phoned the base safety office and explained to them that vehicles on this turn were going way too fast and they needed to re-check their posted speed limit. They discovered it was 10 miles an hour too fast, reduced it, and to my surprise, Colonel Pellerin presented me an award for that and two other safety changes I proposed. He called me "Mr. Fix-it" and for a week my office thought he and I were buddies.

Torn from our lives in a cruel and savage hacking of the heart>>>
He was later court-martialed for negligence in the B-52 crash that occured on that same turn. He was the only officer prosecuted as a result of the crash for not removing a dangerous, arrogant pilot, Colonel Holland. The speed limit didn't apply to bombers.
These are the four men killed in the crash. Colonel Houston was an awfully nice man whom I worked with daily and was deployed to Roswell with in 1993. He was the navigator in the aircraft when it crashed. I'd known him for four years.
I'd worked with Colonel McGeehan too, and briefly met Colonel Wolff, who was famous for his briefings on the bombing campaigns of the Vietnam War. I'd never met the dangerous pilot, Colonel Holland, but his reputation was well known.

The next day I drove to the crash site. I needed closure, and seeing the crash site with the four neon-orange cones marking where the charred bodies lay was the only way. I'd had dreams about airplane crashes since I was a child, and to see one was surreal. Knowing the dead made it one of those times that will silence your soul. The base television station, which had been quiet since Monday, running bulletins about the shooting at the Mental Health Clinic, had just been re-started Friday, the press cleared away from the back gate, we were able to get off the base without hassle finally and life was back to normal for a few hours, and then the crash...

Silence, only silence fills our minds...>>>
I was in my office one day, and using a large wall map of Fairchild, I placed a compass point on my base house and drew a line to the point where there had been a fatal car accident in May, just outside the main gate. Using that radius, I drew a circle and was amazed to find the circle intersected the point where the B-52 had crashed, and the line from my house to the auto accident ran through the Mental Health Clinic, not only the building, but the room in which the shooting had started. My house was exactly in the center...it was as if death encircled us.Click here for map>
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June 24, 1994

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