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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Big Buzz

Monday, August 14, 2006

The thought of a bomb landing in the heart of a residential community would send people in most American cities running for cover.

But that wasn't the case in Greencastle over the weekend when curious onlookers flocked to the heart of downtown to watch the city's nationally-known relic of World War II returned to its perch on the courthouse lawn.

After nearly two years of being M.I.A., the city's newly restored V-1 Buzz Bomb was hoisted back into position at the top of a v-shaped platform that sits on the southwest corner of the Putnam County Courthouse.

Many local veterans and their families breathed a sigh of relief as they watched a flatbed truck bring the bomb up South Jackson Street followed by a crane that carefully lifted the bomb in the air and placed it back into position just after 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

A couple of years ago, members of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post noticed the bomb's condition had begun to deteriorate due to weather over the years. So they decided to take the bomb down and have it restored.

The process took a little longer than some people had anticipated -- almost two years -- but volunteers led by Brazil resident Jeff Minor put in countless hours of labor to restore the bomb. The work included rebuilding the wings and rear tail section, removing all rust and corrosion, and reskinning.

Steve McMains, commander of the local VFW Post 1550, said that much of the original material on the bomb has been replaced with stainless steel because when the bombs were originally manufactured by the Germans for use on the city of London, England, they were not made to last.

Both McMains and former post commander John Hamilton agreed that the bomb should last another 30 to 40 years.

The bomb, though controversial in many aspects, is a huge draw for tourists who come from around the world each year to take pictures of the bomb and read the inscription posted at the base of its pedestal.

"We're just glad its back and it went smoothly," McMains said Sunday morning.

Following the restoration process earlier this month, the bomb was transported, in pieces, to the Putnam County Highway Garage near Greencastle where it awaited the last leg of its journey to the courthouse lawn. It was reassembled before being brought to the downtown area Sunday morning.

According to online encyclopedia Wikipedia, the Buzz Bomb, also known as the Doodlebug, was the first guided missile used in war and was the forerunner of today's cruise missiles.

The bomb, created by Germany, was used between June 1944 and March 1945, and its main targets were southeast England and Belgium.

The bomb created a "buzzing" sound as it flew through the air toward its target, hence the name Buzz Bomb.

Unofficially, the bomb is one of only two publicly displayed bombs in the U.S., however, McMains believes that is no longer the case. He said it may have been one of two when the VFW first received the bomb from the U.S. government in the late 1940s.

He said he has researched several Internet sites and believes there are as many as 36 identical or similar bombs in the U.S. today. Many were engineered and made by the Germans and some were later replicated by the Americans, McMains said.

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