The Palomares Incident, 1966
Between the years of 1963 – 1966, Joe Henderson was an active duty Navy Seal assigned to the Naval Special Warfare unit.
He was among those called to find one of the “missing” hydrogen bombs, accidently dropped off the coast of Spain near the small fishing village of Palomares. The Palomares Incident, as it was called, occurred on January 17, 1966 when a US Air force B-52G bomber collided in mid-air with a refueling tanker. The B-52G was carrying four hydrogen bombs.
Three of the bombs were found on land. The fourth, which fell into the Mediterranean, was located on March 17, 1966, using Alvin, the US Navy’s manned deep-ocean research submersible. The bomb, found resting nearly 910 meters (2,990 ft) deep, was raised intact on April 7. (The next generation Alvin found the Titanic).
Although Joe’s unit was not the one to find the missing bomb, he played an important role in discovering its whereabouts.
Between the years of 1975 – 1988, he was again on active duty, this time with the US Navy Medical Corps, as a Submarine and Diving Medical Officer.
In 1975 Joe received his M.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo. And in 1994, he received his Master of Philosophy degree from Yale University in Epidemiology.
In 1981 he received a Navy Commendation Medal.
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