The afternoon of the 17th, I was flying home in a Navy aircraft. As the pilot descended to land at McChord Air Force Base, we were on the east side of the mountain, and the pilot banked the plane so we could have a good view of the bulge.
My wife picked me up at McChord, and driving home she said: Let’s drive up to Spirit Lake. I looked at the time and said: Maybe some other day, as it would be getting dark by the time we get there – of course, not knowing the road was closed.
The next morning, I had just retrieved the paper when the phone rang and a friend yelled that the mountain had blown up. I went out in the back yard, and it was unbelievable seeing the ash blowing out of the mountain and the purple lighting flashing.
When I went back to my ship ten days later, I took a number of the ash filled pens they were selling and handed them out. I will never forget the sight of the size of the ash cloud blowing out of the mountain.