Old bomb gets new location in Longview museum

History of LETU and Bomb Making

LONGVIEW, Texas (KLTV) - There is a bomb in a Longview museum, but don’t worry, it was put there with the museum’s permission, and it doesn’t contain any explosives. It’s part of a new exhibit opening next week at the Gregg County Historical Museum. It was manufactured in Longview.

It’s not every day you see a 750 pound bomb being taken off a trailer in an alley in Longview. As far as anyone knows, it’s always been in town. It was discovered by Dale Hardy when he was working at LeTourneau Technologies, which is now Komatsu.

“I found it in the weeds. Yes, years ago,” Hardy said.

He said it was on LeTourneau property near the steel mill, and was only mildly surprised since he knew they had a government contract and manufactured over two million bombs in the late sixties.

“Well, I knew about the bombs and so when I found that, I didn’t know the details so I had to do some research to determine: is this one that we made?” Hardy said.

It was. Hardy found the model number matched LeTourneau records. And it wasn’t the only one he found.

“There was probably five or six,” Hardy said.

Dale says the rest of them disappeared, but one was recovered.

“And over time we sand blasted it and painted it and now we have it on display,” Hardy said.

It’s on display at Komatsu for employees, not the public. But the bomb didn’t have a tailfin. Komatsu doesn’t have one, but Marc Welch does.

“I have a feeling it’s probably one of one,” Welch said.

Actually it belongs to Marc’s wife Karla who inherited it from her dad who worked at LeTourneau around their bomb-making era, but he saw the tail’s true purpose.

“He decided to take this bomb tail, turn it over and he made an outside table out of it,” Welch said.

Marc is on the museum board and put two and two together. Dale did the math too, and they agree, if the tailfin fits, wear it.

Of course the bomb will eventually go back to Komatsu, and the tail section will take its predestined place holding up cool drinks in the hot summer.

The Vietnam War era bomb is just part of the R.G. LeTourneau exhibit that runs from April 13 to June 12 at the Gregg County Historical Museum. They’re still trying to loosen the bolts so it can be viewed as a complete bomb, minus anything explosive of course. The bombs were originally shipped to other facilities to be armed before going to Vietnam.

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