Nuclear Accident Fatality. His military grave marker states that he was a veteran of the Korean Conflict. At the time of death, his rank was Specialist 4th Class, United States Army serving with the Engineer Corps as a 52H-Nuclear Power Plant Mechanic Operator. On January 3, 1961 at 9:01pm, alarms sounded at the fire stations and security headquarters of the U.S. National Reactor Testing Station where the reactor was located. Investigation found two operators dead with a third dying later, and detected high radiation levels in the building. This was the world's first fatal nuclear accident; a control bar was manually removed causing a small, 3MW experimental BWR called SL-1 (Stationary Low-Power Plant No. 1) to be destroyed. He earned a Cold War Certificate. Besides McKinley, Army Specialists, John Byrnes and and Richard Carlton Legg, Navy Electricians were killed; McKinley was the youngest at age twenty-two years old and joined the military in 1957.
Bio by: Linda Davis
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