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  • We were in drydock at the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. It was one of only two drydocks in the United States big enough to hold the Enterprise, or any other Nuclear Aircraft Carrier.

    The strange part is Rod Van Wort and I had just come from breakfast and were about to begin our daily safety walkdown. Standard procedure, really, we routinely began a top to bottom walk of the areas where welding and other 'hot' was being done, and even though it was Sunday, there would still be some work crews coming aboard later that day.

    We had barely started the walkdown, and I remember saying something to Rod about how strange it was to walk along the flight deck without any planes. We were just past the tower and I was looking south when I saw it. A mushroom cloud far in the distance, growing fast.

    Later on, about 20 minutes, we found out Mt. Saint Helens had erupted. But in those few moments, Rod and I looked at the cloud, then each other, and we were both speechless.

    You see, it was 1980. There was still a Soviet Union. There was still the threat of nuclear war.

    For 20 minutes, I thought the world was about to end. When someone told us it was just a volcano, we were actually relieved.
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