mervin holmburg's testimony
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Hearings held before the House Subcommittee on NASA Oversight
Hon. Rep. Olin Teague, Chair
Cape Kennedy, Florida, 21 April 1967

Statement of Mervin "Al" Holmburg

[Mr. Thomas Baron's testimony immediately precedes in the hearing. --Clavius]

Mr. TEAGUE: Mr. Holmburg, are you in the room? (Whereupon, Mervin Holmburg was called before the committee, and, being first duly sworn, was examined and replied as follows:)

Mr. TEAGUE: Mr. Holmburg, did you come here of your own free will?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Yes, sir.

Mr. TEAGUE: Would you give us your full name and address for the sake of the record?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Mervin Holmburg, 3031 Pimbrook Road, Titusville, Fla.

Mr. TEAGUE: Mr. Holmburg, Mr. Baron has testified, as I am sure you know, that you told him that you knew what caused the accident and all about it. Did you ever tell in anything of that nature?

Mr. HOLMBURG: No, sir.

Mr. FULTON: Will you put your hand down away from your mouth?

Mr. TEAGUE: Did you ever discuss the cause of the accident in a drugstore with Mr. Baron?

Mr. HOLMBURG: No. I talked to him many times in the drugstore, but that is about it.

Mr. TEAGUE: But you did not say that you and other people know what caused the fire?

Mr. HOLMBURG: No, sir.

Mr. DADDARIO: What was the nature of your conversation with him on those occasions in the drugstore?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Well, Most of them was about his report, why he wrote it and when he wrote it and so forth. Whether he was making progress on it.

Mr. DADDARIO: Did you in any instance while he was relating this to you agree with him as to the difficulties which the Apollo spacecraft had run into and the tragedy that had occurred which would give him any indication that you did have the answer to the problem which caused the fire?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Never.

Mr. DADDARIO: Can you say that with as clear a recollection as possible of the conversation you had with Mr. Baron?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Yes, sir. I bumped into him accidentally almost every time I met him. I told him I shouldn't even be talking with him because of the report he is writing, and he is probably being watched. He gets all his information from anonymous phone calls, people calling him and people dropping him a word here and there. That is what he tells me.

Mr. DADDARIO: What caused you to come here today? We had not scheduled you as a witness. I had no idea; in fact, I can't recall that I ever heard your name before today. What brought you here?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Well, I work right outside the door here, and it is my time to come to work now.

Mr. DADDARIO: Why would you have asked that you might be allowed to testify?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Well, Mr. Baron had brought my name up a couple of times in here, and I thought I should come in here to defend it.

Mr. DADDARIO: You come here for that purpose?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Yes, sir.

Mr. WYDEN: Who told you that?

Mr. HOLMBURG: I can't recall who that was now.

Mr. WYDLER: You mean you can't recall who told you that?

Mr. HOLMBURG: There were several people right outside the door and I overheard it being mentioned.

Mr. SMART: I am Mr. Robert Smart, Assistant to the President of North American Aviation. When Mr. Holmburg's name was injected into this testimony in the manner in which all of you know, I did not feel that we could leave it unanswered at this time, if there was an answer to it, therefore I asked one of our employees here to see if he could find him. He did find him. He asked him to come out in the hall. I told him the accusations which had been made by Mr. Baron. If he wanted to appear and testify under oath, to tell the truth, that he would have an opportunity, and I then came in -- and he said he did want to so testify -- I came in, and I sent that word to Mr. Teague, and you know what has happened from that point to now.

Mr. WYDLER: I do.

Mr. TEAGUE: We have two minutes left, Mr. Wydler.

Mr. WYDLER: Did you ever speak with Mr. Baron about the 012 [i.e., command module 012, the Apollo 1 capsule. --Clavius] fire?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Casually, yes.

Mr. WYDLER: What does that mean, "casually?"

Mr. HOLMBURG: He has ideas of what caused the fire. He did most of the talking about it and I listened to speculations on that thing. I never made any comments about what caused it or I never told him exactly what caused it. I was never near the accident when it happened.

Mr. FULTON: Mr. Chairman.

Mr. TEAGUE: One question.

Mr. FULTON: You are certain at no time you gave any statement that you had knowledge of the cause of the Apollo 204 accident that killed three astronauts, that you at no time said that they were in the capsule for five minutes without getting out, nor that there bad been nine minutes' noticed of a fire and nothing was done about it?

Mr. HOLMBURG: No, sir.

Mr. FULTON: You are absolutely sure?

Mr. HOLMBURG: Yes, sir.

Mr. FULTON: Thank you. That is all.

Mr. TEAGUE: The committee will be adjourned.

Mr. WYDLER: I would just like to get straight for the record that I have certain additional witnesses that I would like to see before the committee here. I will take this up at the time that the Chair suggests would be the most convenient time. But, I want to make it clear as we adjourn here today that I will make this request sometime either in executive session or public sessions, whichever may turn out to be the best time. I would like to, however, say that I would like to see one thing, and I think the committee should see it. That is the picture, and I think there are moving pictures of the fire that was simulated of the 012 spacecraft fire. They simulated the fire. NASA did some test somewhere, I would like to see the motion pictures of that fire if there are any motion pictures of that test.

Mr. TEAGUE: The committee is adjourned.

Mr. DADDARIO: Mr. Chairman, one moment, before you adjourn. I would like to just say one thing at this time. One matter has stood in my mind since we questioned some of the people at the top of the pad where the tragedy took place. The names of the men I don't recall. But, I am referring to the pad leader and the people with him. I would like to have their names.

(Information requested is as follows.
D.0. Babbitt, NAA Pad Leader.
J.D. Gleaves, NAA Mechanical Lead Technician.
L.D. Reece, NAA Quality Control.
H.H. Rogers, NASA Quality Control.)

(Above personnel are those interviewed by the Committee at Complex 34 on the morning of April 21, 1967. For a complete list of those personnel on level A-7 and A-8 of the Service Structure during the accident, refer to Panel 12 report, pages D-12-7 through D-12-9.)

Mr. DADDARIO: I believe that under the conditions that they were operating under at the time of the accident -- the great heat, flame, and smoke these men, notwithstanding the finding of the board that there was not adequate fire and rescue teams available at the time, and, acting on their own under extremely dangerous conditions, acted with great courage. I think that we all ought to commend them, and understand that they reacted as competent, experienced and brave men should. We are in their debt for what they tried to do on that day.

Mr. TEAGUE: I certainly agree with the gentleman, and the committee is adjourned.

(Whereupon, at 3 p.m., the committee was adjourned.)

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