Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Breaking News

Local News

April 1, 2013

Former cop pens Grissom-themed novel

Kokomo — Back in 1975, when a 20-year-old Tom Kelley was stationed at Grissom Air Force Base as a security police officer, rumors began circulating that a B-58 Hustler, armed with nuclear weapons, had crashed, burned and been buried at the base years earlier.

Kelley said he and his friends at the base believed it was just an urban legend. Even so, Kelley thought it would make a great story for a novel.

After leaving the Air Force in 1978, he worked briefly as a deputy sheriff in Miami County, then landed a job as a patrol officer with the Kokomo Police Department, where he worked for the next 32 years.

But through all his time in law enforcement, Kelley never forgot about the B-58.

“The story had been floating around in my head for years,” he said during a recent interview.

About 12 years ago, while working as a patrolman, he said he decided it was time to put the story on paper, and earlier this month his new novel, “Guardmount”, hit bookshelves across the country.

The bomber crash at Grissom sets the background for the novel, which Kelley described as a humorous crime drama.

“I like to think of it as a ‘Rockford Files’ kind of funny,” he said. “I hope the characters are believable enough that readers will see humor in recognizing how they react to things.”

The plot runs like this: The year is 1975. The place is Grissom Air Force Base. A bomber is unearthed with a body inside. A female security police investigator and state police detective are assigned to solve the cold case.

Kelley said he invented a colorful cast of characters for his 350-page novel, including a pair of federal agents with an uncertain pedigree, an ex-staff sergeant unsure of what he wants to do with his life, and a cunning, wily ex-stripper.

He said all the characters are composites of people he’s known and worked with over the last 40 years.

“I hope the reader will love the characters as much as I do,” he said.

But while Kelley was writing the book, a stunning discovery was made — the bomber crash wasn’t an urban legend.

Officials at Grissom unearthed a buried B-58 Hustler in 2007. Just as the story went, the plane had crashed armed with nuclear weapons.

Kelley said 18 bombers were cocked and ready to go as part of a “doomsday plan” during the Cold War. On Dec. 8, 1964, military personnel took one of the bombers on a high-speed taxi to simulate a take off. The plane slid on a patch of ice, the landing gear snapped off and the fuel tank caught fire.

Two of the operators inside survived the crash, but one was killed when he tried to eject.

The consequence of the accident was a fire and destruction of five nuclear weapons on board. The explosives in the weapons did not detonate, but melted and burned, leaving some residual radioactive contamination in soils adjacent to the runway.

The contaminated area was excavated and buried, along with the aircraft wreckage, at a different location on base.

As it turned out, what Kelley thought was the fictional backdrop to his novel was, in fact, a fact.

“The plot of the book is complete fiction, but there’s historical facts in the background that I think anyone who lived at the time would recognize and everyone will find interesting,” he said.

That also includes the culture, politics and issues of 1970s America.

“I tried to get as much culture pounded into it as I could. There’s a lot of subtle references to ’70s music,” he said with a laugh. “... But the ’70s culture was more than just beads and shag rugs. There was a lot of important social issues that were being considered in those days.”  

Some of the issues Kelley wrote of include pollution, women’s growing roles in the military and a changing America that returning war veterans couldn’t recognize.

“It’s a fun story, but I like to think people will learn a little something from it, too,” he said. “I think the book will be of particular interest to people who live here and the Peru area.”

“Guardmount” can be found at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • North split restrictions on Monday The Indiana Department of Transportation will restrict traffic at the single-lane ramp that connects U.S. 31 to southbound Ind. 931 on the north side of Kokomo — weather permitting — on Monday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Remedial repairs along the 200-

    April 16, 2014

  • BK rebuild 04 Peru restaurant B-K West rebuilding after tornado

    PERU -- B-K West is more than just a drive-in restaurant to its owner, J.D. Hann. It's a piece of his childhood, a historic Peru landmark, and it's his baby. "I grew up with this place," the 57-year-old Peru native said. "We used to walk the tracks o

    April 16, 2014 7 Photos

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks backs manufacturing training efforts Congresswoman Susan Brooks' own personal manufacturing experience may have been limited to three months in a Kendallville caramel factory as a college student, but in her congressional roles, she's having an impact on the skills debate. In Kokomo Tue

    April 16, 2014

  • Superintendent of Ind Ed 01 State Superintendent Glenda Ritz visits Peru, discusses new standards

    PERU -- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz said Tuesday she is comfortable with the quick pace at which new academic standards are moving from concept to classroom. The Indiana Department of Education released a final draft of new

    April 16, 2014 4 Photos

  • Chrysler CEO will headline Tipton plant opening Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will preside over the grand opening of the company's fifth north central Indiana plant, the Tipton Transmission Plant, at a ceremony May 13, company officials announced Tuesday. In February 2013, Chrysler announced it w

    April 16, 2014

  • More than 70 businesses participate in annual job fair More than 70 local businesses got a look at the workforce of tomorrow during Tuesday's Kokomo Area Job Fair at the Ivy Tech Kokomo Event & Conference Center. The event, put on as a partnership between Indiana University Kokomo and Ivy Tech Community

    April 16, 2014

  • Kokomo episode of 'My First Home' airs Saturday A cautious cat-lover will search for the perfect house in Kokomo on Saturday's episode of "My First Home" on TLC. The episode airs at noon and features Kokomo real estate agent Gena Martin and first-time homebuyer Steven Underwood. In its description

    April 16, 2014

  • Easter basket workshop Thursday Generous individuals and businesses in town donated enough candy, games and books to fill more than 500 Easter baskets at this year's Tom Carey Easter Basket Workshop. The workshop starts at 10 a.m. Thursday. Any families that are strapped for cash t

    April 16, 2014

  • IUK to give Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne honorary degree Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne will be at Indiana University Kokomo’s May 13 commencement to accept an honorary degree from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, IUK officials announced. In a statement, McRobbie credited Marchionne with engi

    April 15, 2014

  • Cheryl Marner aims to cross finish line during this year's Boston Marathon Cheryl Marner was a mile from the finish line at last year's Boston Marathon when all of the runners in front of her suddenly stopped. The race had come to a halt, and at the time, she didn't know why. "There was a lot of confusion," she said. "I hea

    April 15, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries