Where is the nuclear weapon off the coast of Georgia?
In the 50 years since a nuclear weapon splashed into Wassaw Sound, it has become a local legend, a 7,600-pound good ol’ bomb that has dodged all efforts to detect it even as its draws enormous attention on the Web.
Its profile seems certain to grow even larger since a novel that revolves around its presence was released last week during the Savannah Book Festival.
This new burst of publicity comes as a disappointment to retired Air Force Col. Howard Richardson, the man who actually dropped the bomb in the early hours of Feb. 5, 1958.
“Once and for all, I just want to put this thing to rest,” said Richardson, the sigh in his voice easily discernible as he spoke from his home in Brandon, Miss.
Now 86, Richardson served for 31 years, a sterling career that included 35 missions as a B-17 pilot in World War II. He also put in thousands of hours as a Strategic Air Command pilot, shepherding B-47s and B-52s on globe-circling flights during the peak of the Cold War, an era when SAC bombers and crewmen were the tip of America’s nuclear spear.
The story that does not die contains this nugget.
“Wassaw Sound” is just the latest in a lengthy series of books and other publicized accounts of the incidents surrounding the dropping of the bomb and the searches for it.
The Washington Post has covered it, as has The Times of London. Magazine stories have been done by Atlantic Monthly and Boating, which declared in its July 2007 edition that you should “pray that we find it.”
In spite of, or perhaps due to, all this publicity, the bomb has become a hot fashion item on Tybee.
Joe Inglesby, the daytime bartender at Doc’s Bar on Tybrisia Street, has put together a line of hats and shirts that bear the logo “Tybee Island Bomb Squad.”