Mount St Helens Disaster

[Notes from Ben Johnson]
Det 6, 602nd TAIRCW, Ft. Lewis. activated (volunteers only) to the Mt St Helens disaster on May 24 1981 to aid in the rescue effort and provide communications throughout the area. 1 cubic mile of earth disappeared. Three times over national television it was reported that there had been a lava flow. Fact is there never was! One report was triggered by an unnamed airman. It happened just outside the Sherrifs Rasmussen Sherrif office/Realty office. SrA Alan Brogan was monitoring the radios and someone else transmitted the code words “Hot Flash”. This airman assigned the wrong meaning and came out running and yelling “Lava flow, Lava flow!” At which point the press ran for the only phone booth in town to call it in. It turned out that the transmission initiator, another unidentified SSgt type person saw the sun rising over the hole on top of the mountain. Unit stayed deployed for 13 days. Until 59 bodies were recovered. Myself and A1C/SrA John Stierl went back for 3 days about two weeks after returning to sift thru a traier for body parts. Is true that the unit got an AFOUA. Tis also true that at the time we were the smallest unit in AF history to have received one. I believe the unit manning was 26 at the time. CMSgt Kemper would know better. Name of people I remember being there/working with:
myself, URA
John Stierl
Alan Brogan
Robert Hill
Schultz
Kemper
Tim Bonge
Glen Galati