September 27, 2016

First-Hand Account – Don Wellons

On February 3, 1971 I was living in Jesup, Georgia and was the Assistant Chief of the Jesup/Wayne County Civil Defense Unit. I received a call from the Camden County Sheriff’s department around noon that day requesting help and that we bring equipment and personnel as soon as possible. By 1 PM we had assembled our teams and we left Jesup with three Civil Defense rescue vehicles. We went to the Camden Sheriff’s office and from there we were escorted to the main gate at Thiokol. There we were issued rain gear and protective gear and then went to the site of the explosion. I have never seen anything like that in my life. Everything except the back wall was gone. There was so much debris blown over the paved road that you could not see the asphalt. The fire hydrants were leaning at a 45% angle away from the explosion. The woods were on fire for miles around. We stayed on scene performing requested tasks until after dark. The Army relieved us shortly after dark and we were released to return to Jesup. It was a sight I will never forget.

Don Wellons

Wayne County Civil Defense Unit – Jesup, Georgia