Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 13 in San Antonio history...

1905
The original Majestic Theater holds its grand opening. It will be renamed the State Theater in 1929 when the current Majestic Theater opens.

1914
In one of the most sensational crimes in San Antonio history, Otto Koehler, the president and manager of the San Antonio Brewing Association, was murdered by his mistress, Emma Burgemeister.

1963
A massive explosion at Medina Air Base shatters windows throughout San Antonio and is felt as far as Castroville, 17 miles away.

1 comment:

  1. I was fairly close to the blast that occured on 13 Nov 1963 at the AEC facility at Medina Base. Below is my account of what I witnessed.
    Sincerely,
    Gerald H. Tonnell
    Lt Colonel, USAF (Retired)

    TESTIMONY by Gerald H. Tonnell, Captain, USAF (in 1963):

    I was a flight commander on duty in my Officer Training School (OTS) office on Medina Base (Lackland AFB Annex) very near where the explosion occurred on November 13, 1963. I would guess my office, which was on the east side of our north/south oriented building, was about a third of a mile or so from the storage igloo that blew up. I was conducting the initial interview on a new officer trainee at the time of the explosion. My office chair was on wheels and when the blast came, it rolled my chair backward (east) several inches. The officer trainee facing me was thrown forward out of his chair. He was bewildered, and, not knowing exactly what happened, all I could muster in the way of an explanation was that some flight jockey must have broken the sound barrier in his fighter right over the school.

    I could look through my open door and into the offices across the hall (to the west) and see out the windows in the direction of the explosion. As I recall, some of those windows were broken – this was unusual because our office windows were fairly thick, having been reinforced with something akin to chicken wire which had been sandwiched in-between the layers of glass. There were some glass shards stuck in the back of a few, thankfully empty, office chairs - there was also a lot of glass on the floor. All of the Flight Commanders on that side (west) of the building were out of their offices and either on the drill pad or the sports fields with their officer trainees. (One of my fellow flight commanders, who was on one of our sports fields, later said that the concussion knocked some of the people off of their feet.)

    A few moments after the blast, I excused myself and rushed across the hall and looked west out the windows. I could only see what appeared to be a solid light overcast left to right out of the window. On the other hand, when I turned and looked out my window on the east side of the building, I could see a partly cloudy sky with plenty of blue. Later, I read that the blast took the rough form of an atomic mushroom. I could not see a distinct blast cloud because I was too close to the explosion. The next day in the San Antonio Express newspaper, it was reported that some windows were broken downtown and in neighboring communities – some 15 or more miles from the blast. Scuttlebutt in the office was that Randolph AFB even had some light damage. I guess our building didn’t suffer more damage because we were so close -- the blast went more or less straight up because the shape of the igloo in which the explosives were stored forced the concussion to go in that direction. I do not believe any of the 600 or so faculty, staff or students at OTS on the Medina facility were injured. But all of us were surprised to say the least.

    All in all, it was an interesting day.

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