Volcanic Damage on Heimaey Island, Iceland, January 1973

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While in the US Navy, Bud was stationed at the Keflavik Airport, Iceland. He was posted there from 1971 to 1973. Bud was a Lieutenant Commander, USN, and was the command duty officer on the day that a volcano erupted on a nearby island (Vestmannaeyjar). That date was January 23, 1973. The volcano was actually on the small island named Heimaey. This event is also known as the Eldell Volcano.

Vestmannaeyjar (The Westman Islands) is both a town and an archipelago off the south coast of Iceland.

Because Bud was an avid photographer (both still and video) and had high end, medium format still camera equipment (Hasselblad), he was asked to volunteer to go to the island to document photographically what was taking place. This video footage was never used officially, and only recently uncovered from archival storage.

After being flown to the island in a US Navy Douglas C3 twin engine airplane, both the weather and the resulting windblown volcanic ash prevented the plane from returning to the Keflavik Airport for several days. Bud was essentially “stuck” on the island with no clothes other than what he was wearing during the short flight, and no supplies. He slept on the floor of a local school (obviously no longer being used since most residents in the area had been evacuated). Food was supplied by some local residents who were involved in rescue and mitigation activities. The still pictures did not survive, for reasons that Bud cannot recall. But these poor quality video images did survive, even though they are only now being found and published.

There are many web sites that document that volcano. Here are just a few (not an endorsement):

To the best of my recollection (some forty years after the fact), these video clips were taken on January 25 and January 26, 1973, while stranded on the island.

Reference film reel 1-0001-B.

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