September 27, 2016

First-Hand Account – Dorothy Monak

Charles had so many ways of not being at Thiokol on that fateful day. He had taken a new position with the Railroad and was content. But, Thiokol wanted him to come back. A little over a month before the disaster he returned to Thiokol after they offered him a higher salary and a new position. Even on that day, I thought that he would not go into work. Charles had two teeth extracted the day before and didn’t get any sleep that night. But, there he was bright and early getting dressed – he said he would go in and check on things and come home early. We had always worked opposite shifts but, on the morning of February 3, 1971 we both were scheduled to work day-shift. We arrived at work together and went our separate ways. He was an engineer and the Safety Department Chief. I worked in building M-142. My job was to pack and prepare the trip flares for shipping. At the end of the 10:30 AM break, Charles came by, gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he felt bad and was going home but, had to check one more thing in the timid building. Off he went and I went back to work. A few minutes later, a bad fire brought out in building M-132. Charles left timid and went to evacuate building M-132. I thought the fire was in my building. Then an explosion occurred and I tripped over some pallets and had to crawl out the building. Once outside, it was complete chaos. I was injured. My co-workers had to assist me walking. We looked around and found someone’s station wagon with the keys in the ignition. As we drove away, I glimpsed the shoes of a person under the bus and I knew it was my Charles. We were both hospitalized at the same hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. Charles died later that night around 8:00pm. I was 28 and Charles was 30 and we had two young children on the day the Thiokol Plant exploded.
Dorothy Monak

Thiokol Employee, Building M-142, Explosion Survivor