Reading the article about the Texas City disaster brought back memories of one of those heroes, my amazing brother, Bob.
At the time of the disaster, I was 8 years old, living in Houston with my family. My brother volunteered to go to Texas City to help. He was 17 years old. After he left, we couldn’t communicate with him and my parents got worried. I missed him and looked forward to his return. One day I saw him go home.
Later I learned that he took care of the remains of those who had died, matching and fitting the body parts as much as possible.
He had come back exhausted, dazed and emotionally drained. The 17-year-old boy had given his all to help others in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Born Rush, EC of Guadalupe Valley | Kingsbury
Thank you for the article and the memory of the anniversary of the Texas City disaster. I was an eyewitness to the explosion, standing in the driveway behind our house, watching the smoke from the fire. My sisters were at school.
As the smoke changed color, there was an explosion and a blinding flash. Shrapnel screamed through the air and the ground heaved beneath my feet. The force of the explosion propelled me across the driveway into the neighbour’s picket fence. My mom and aunt were screaming for me and when they found them, they carried me down the street to the corner of Ninth Avenue and Sixth Street next to the hospital so we could check on my sisters. This place would intersect with either route they were taking.
They were safe other than the pieces of glass embedded in their backs by the school windows blowing. The glass was there for the rest of their lives.
Few people had phones, and people panicked trying to get information about loved ones. There were few families that would remain intact. The injured flooded the hospital and there were so many dead that the school gymnasium, icehouse and a car dealership became temporary morgues.
My father, my grandfather and my uncle were on the quays to fight the fire. No one lived there after the “explosion”. I went to school with many orphans. My family was blessed because no one was killed.
The structure in the photo was located inside the Monsanto chemical plant. The Grandcamp had been moored just beyond. Until a few years ago, it served as a memorial. As an adult, I worked in heavy equipment and unearthed many twisted pieces of steel and relics of that horrible day.
I turn 80 this year, and this day is as vivid in my mind as if it had happened yesterday.
John McCool, Central Texas EC