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Interview with Lt. Colonel Derek Duke,
ret. USAF

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  February 16, 2004

Tybeebomb.com Webmaster interview with Derek Duke, USAF Retired Lt Colonel.

This is about Colonel Duke's knowledge of Top Secret classified documents now declassified concerning the missing nuclear bomb off Savannah, now popularly known as the Tybee Bomb.


Colonel Duke, you forwarded me these declassified documents for posting on the website.


Colonel Duke (CD)

We have been on the trail of this missing Hydrogen bomb loss near Tybee Island for some years. Your website www.tybeebomb.com has been a flagship for presenting real information about this bomb, whatever this old nuke is…Big threat, little threat, or no threat.


Thank you. I live on Tybee and I am closest to the action, good, bad, or ugly. These documents are incredible of themselves. Why have they ever been declassified? To the layman, they are alarming!


They are and they should be. President Clinton ordered lots of important things declassified. And these documents might say that was a great thing. Without these docs, important questions would not have been asked.

Let’s take the Aircraft Commander’s (AC’s) receipt for his Mark 15 Mod 0 Hydrogen bomb. Look at it with me. The form is very clear if you are familiar with it. Since none of us are, let’s just look at it with face value.

It is a typed form, perhaps a form letter. When I first saw it, I thought whoever presented the document to the AC for his signature had grabbed the wrong form. There are items lined out, some with initials, others not. There is handwriting where everything else is type. The most critical item: the nuclear capsule is that item with the handwriting reading “Simulated” with no initials.


Are you suggesting this form has been altered?


I am not suggesting anything. But I am pointing out that a very, very important form…receipt of a nuclear weapon for aerial maneuvers…that this form is very sloppy… and altered with very shoddy details. Its appearance had concerned me deeply from the first second I saw it.


Ok, I see that, but let’s just assume the form is correct. What does it say?


That the AC is signing for a nuclear bomb and must return it after the flight. The most important item is the handwritten work “Simulated”. What is that word pertaining to… simulated…

As you know, I have interviewed hundreds of airmen who dealt with nuclear weapons. In regard to a nuke. It either IS or IS NOT. The word simulated is NEVER used because of the confusion it can create, just like here. Yet here we see it on a form the Air Force places its case that the Tybee Bomb is not capable of a nuclear explosion. One of a handful of lost nuclear weapons, and this one just happens to “look funny”.


OK, let’s lay that aside for a minute and look at this 2nd document (Page 1, Page 2). This is a letter from the Assistant Secretary of Defense to Congress regarding lost nuclear bombs. Tell me about this letter.


Letter is a BAD label for this memo of record. This is sworn testimony, an affidavit. It clearly states that as it opens. Apparently at some recent past time this Congressional Committee has asked the Secretary of Defense for a detail of lost nukes. In actuality, this was an investigation into nuclear military operations after the famous Spain accident in January 1966. Notice this is April 1966 following that accident and its clean up.


Wait a minute. This letter (Page 1, Page 2), sworn testimony, is incredible because it clearly identifies the nuclear bomb lost near Savannah in Feb 58 as a complete weapon. Is this a mistake as they now claim?



If it is real, we have a colossal problem of not only a dangerous nuke capable of 100 times more power than the Hiroshima bomb…that wipes out Savannah, Hilton Head, Ft Stewart, etc…but because it is buried in the ocean seabed, it could produce enough vaporized particles to cover the Eastern Seaboard of the US in radiation fallout.

And we have the problem of who and why HAVE they been covering this up all these years.


Do you have a clue?


All I know is what happened when these same government people from 1958 found themselves in the 1960 world crisis caused by the Soviet shoot down of the U-2 spy plane with Frances Gary Powers.

With the debacle of that embarrassment came the disclosure of secret authorization for Air Force flights made directly by the President who also authorized “plausible deniability”.

That is very, very important in regard to the Tybee Bomb.


What is … how do you say it, “plausible deniability”???


Please listen carefully, this is astounding. When the President, who has ultimate authority to release nuclear weapons, issues a secret Executive Order (EO) for an action, that order contains the authorization for anyone who has knowledge of the EO to use plausible deniability to keep its secrecy intact. Plain language, I can lie if I can make it plausible…believable…not get caught…not give it away…as lying is a trap in of itself. Somewhere you will cross yourself up. So, you must maintain plausible deniability.

For example, "the Air Force is not authorized" "the President was unaware" "it was withheld in the interest of national security."

I know that is confusing. But this type of argument you have already seen. Let me point it out specifically. We say it is Day…the Russian say it is night. (that is what I call the 180 degree rule…the exact opposite of the truth is sometimes easier to support because it can become confusing. And confusion leads to indecision, doubt, and inaction.

Plausible deniability is a close cousin. In the case of the Tybee Bomb, it is no danger because its receipt form says it did not contain a capsule and the AF will point out that flying live nuclear bombs was not authorized in Feb 1958. (The AF authorized such flights later in 1958).

But what if there existed and still exists an EO that authorized such flights and PD…plausible deniability. Now that is scary. The flight with live nuclear weapons was authorized, but I cannot confirm that, nor can I confirm that a nuclear capsule may have been involved. It was not authorized by current AF doctrine. And the receipt shows it was in fact a simulated capsule in a real bomb, if it had a real nuclear capsule."

Excuse me. I made up that last sentence above to demonstrate the mockery of wording this can become if we are not careful. I mean, we have to trust our President. We have to follow orders. Otherwise, chaos becomes present.


Are you suggesting that this is all an authorized cover up.


Not at all. What I have been trying to do is explain why one of the SHARPEST men on the planet, ASST Sec of Defense W J Howard, would ever make a mistake like that…particularly when his boss had to have reviewed that paper/testimony before it was submitted. That boss was a meticulous micro manager, thought to be the smartest ever. Never missed a detail. He was of course the infamous Robert McNamara of JFK fame. What I am suggesting is that they were following orders. When sworn testimony to Congress was required, THEY HAD TO TELL THE TRUTH. It has something to do with the Constitution and the Executive and Congressional and Judicial branches.

All I know is that sworn testimony to a Congressional Investigation is where EVERYBODY tells the truth. If not, you swing. Now, go figure. Did WJ Howard, with Robert McNamara looking over his shoulder, lie about the Tybee Bomb?


So what are you saying…that WJ Howard was right!


They say he was wrong. They called him on the phone or visited him. Because he could not remember at 80+ years old he agreed he must have been wrong.

Now remember, this was after he told reporters who called about the testimony, “If I said it, it was right as I knew it”.

And this is where I come in full circle to “Plausible deniability”.

It could all be a lie or it could be truth. But the US Government has such a bad record on truth for national security matters that I say they owe Tybee. The bomb should be located, made safe, and removed. As far as I am concerned, I would rather not know.

It would be more dirty laundry for no reason. And, believe it or not, we have foretold this and supported this out since August 2000 when we first presented this to Congressman Kingston.


You wanted to give the AF an out?


Absolutely. Only if they had one could they find and recover the Tybee Bomb.

They said they could find it. Just a question of a few million dollars. But, OOPS, that would be dangerous and we really recommend letting it lie as it is wherever it is...and, oh by the way, stay at least a 1000 feet away from it.

I am not kidding...that is really what they said in so many words.

But let me add: an important insider I interviewed warned me that this was not about the money. It is all politics. They are worried about bad news from the bomb and how they might have to explain what they have done for 46 years.

Let me put this a way the average American can understand...like the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE end of your assignment should you accept, we will deny any knowledge of your mission should you be caught.

To that I might add the title from a recent hit movie where a nobody runs circles around the establishment, CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.

"I am not referring to me but to this donnybrook of a lost nuke at Tybee."

Let me close with a note of caution - Everyone may very well be telling the truth at the Government. Let me repeat that. They may be telling the TRUTH. It may be just an old bomb still intact and buried near Wassau Sound. And there may be very little potential for harm, environmentally or otherwise. BUT, I do not like relying on hope for the best IF there is something that can be done to safely find it and remove it. Tybee and the citizens here deserve that.

We at ASSURE feel it can be found safely. The original search commander and other experts in salvage have advised that we can safely isolate it, safety it, and then remove it. There would be no additional risk because there is some risk in just leaving it there.

We also feel the water is so shallow where it is located, all this can be done inside a dry, open air, walled off location where it lies buried. Makes for a much easier job.

We do not know where it is but we do have an area where we have high interest. And this is one of the areas of the original search. Frankly, with the technology available to the US Navy now for finding mines in harbors that are embedded in the seabed for stealth, they should be able to find this safely and fairly quickly. Then a decision can be made about what to do.

Thank you.


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