A military career of cleaning up nuclear accidents may have cut short the life of Dr. Jack ReVelle, the hero of the Goldsboro Broken Arrow nuclear incident.
In January 1961, Dr. ReVelle climbed out of a muddy hole in the ground outside of Goldsboro, North Carolina, holding the rough, gray sphere of a hydrogen bomb the size of a volleyball against his chest. Almost immediately, he flew to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he defused two nuclear bombs that accidentally fell out of a B-52 bomber. That volleyball-sized orb was the primary core of a hydrogen bomb, with enough uranium and plutonium inside to create a huge crater, kill tens of thousands of people instantly, and leave parts of Eastern North Carolina permanently uninhabitable. A military career of responding to radioactive accidents brought on the disease that killed him in 2020. Dr. ReVelle’s widow said by the time he sought recognition and help from the government; it was too late.