GOLDSBORO, N.C. (WNCN) – It is a day that nearly changed the course of history. Sixty-two years ago, a B-52 bomber crashed over Goldsboro, accidentally dropping two nuclear bombs.

People who saw that crash still think about what could’ve happened.

A field, just north of Goldsboro near the Faro community, looks rather unremarkable to most people, but somewhere deep underground, one of the world’s deadliest weapons – or part of it – lies buried after plummeting from a crashing warplane in 1961.

“I heard this awful racket, and when I looked out the window, my room was as red as the taillights on that truck,” 80-year-old Billy Reeves said Tuesday.

Reeves, then a high school senior, ran to his front porch and saw the plane crashing to the ground.

“It was coming this way, and it turned over,” he said. “One of the wings was missing. It looked like the whole world was on fire, I was scared; we all were scared. Momma thought it was the end of time.”

He said a military helicopter soon flew over, ordering everyone to evacuate, but at the time no one realized the plane that crashed was a B-52 bomber with two extremely powerful nuclear bombs on board.

One bomb landed about one mile from the crash scene. The other plunged into the ground.

The field across from Reeves’ family’s home soon became the site of a massive recovery effort.

“They dug so deep this whole field was dug up, all of it,” Reeves said.

After what he described as months of digging, “They started putting the dirt back in the hole,” Reeves remembered.

Parts of that second nuclear bomb are believed to remain under the field to this day, but those passing through this rural community would never know it — except for a sign a few miles away in Eureka that reads “Nuclear Mishap.” It memorializes the three crew members who died in the bomber crash and acknowledges just how close the world came to disaster.

“Being a grown man, I thought about that,” Reeves said. “That we all could be gone, that it was the end of time for all of us.”

Instead, 62 years later, Billy Reeves looks at the field with gratitude.

“At times,” he said, “When I’m coming by, it crosses my mind what a blessing we received that we’re still here.”