Wichita Falls, TX Tornado, Apr 1964 - 7 Killed; 68 Injured



Wichita Falls, (UPI) -- A death-dealing tornado with a whitish funnel that looked like a prone "S" ripped with an agonizing slowness Friday through an Air Force base, two civilian housing developments and a trailer park.
Seven persons were killed, and two city hospitals and Sheppard Air Force Base Hospital reported treating 68 injured. Additional scores of persons were injured slightly and given first aid treatment without going to hospitals.
The victims were ALBERG MILLER, 75; MRS. DAWSON MINEAR; MRS. CARL. E. HOEFFGER, 58; ERNEST CASWELL, 55; MRS. HAZEL REA COLLINS, 35 and two women who were not identified.
Civil defense estimated total damage at more than $1.5 million, including the extensive damage at the air base. Two hundred homes were destroyed, according to civil defense. Many more were damaged. Most of the homes were in the Sunset Terrace addition.
Damage at Sheppard AFB included two giant KC97 tankers, belonging to Strategic Air Command (SAC). Sheppard is not a SAC base but SAC maintains a refueling station there.
Gov. John Connally ordered out 100 National Guardsmen to prevent wrecked and damaged homes from looting. Connally also sent Col. Jesse Ward, state director of civil defense and disaster relief to Wichita Falls.
It took the tornado, white with sand and dust it sucked up, and boiling with debris, 15 minutes to course through Sheppard AFB and the northern edge of Wichita Falls. Hail and heavy rain followed the wind.
The Weather Bureau reported two tornadoes in the Wichita Falls area. One dipped out of a black thundercloud about 2:45 cst, and hit Wichita Falls.
Weather Bureau observers said the other was last observed 20 miles north of Wichita Falls. No damage was reported from the second tornado, however.
Mrs. G. C. Roe said she and her neighbor, Mrs. F. W. Gillen, watched the tornado approach and when it was almost upon them dived into the storm cellar.
"It sounded like several freight trains," Mrs. Roe said. "We heard something heavy thump against the cellar door. It was a car from the wrecking yard."
Wichita Falls is a city of 102,000 population near the Oklahoma border, 130 miles northwest of Dallas. Eight hours before the Wichita Falls tornado, a twister did an estimated $100,000 damage but injured nobody 100 miles to the east in the Lake Texoma area.
The Wichita Falls tornado hit Sheppard Air Force Base, where 30 persons -- 7 military personnel and 23 dependents -- were reported injured.
The funnel moved across the highway from the main gate of Sheppard AFB. It tore up an old Air Force hospital and clinic but missed a new $5 million hospital.
The tornado skipped through the Lincoln Heights housing area and the El rey house trailer park. Both Lincoln Heights and the trailer park are near the air base.

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Sheppard AFB tornado April 3, 2013

I was attending tech school and was in the hangar when the tornado hit. We were told to move from the mezzanine classrooms to the center of the hangar just prior to the tornado striking the hangar. All of us in the classroom caught a good view of the funnel cloud as it approached the base. I personally was under a large stone wash basin in the men's room when the funnel hit the hangar and heard the noise, saw the dust and witnessed the destruction. The hangar was severly damaged but none of the approximately three-hundred personnel in the hangar was injured.

I was there

I was there. I was supposed to be in the hall with my social studies book on my head. Instead, I was watching the tornado out the window. It was headed straight for the school. I saw it hit a ditch full of water and turn into an instant water spout. Suddenly, it just did a 180 degree turn. I learned later that it went across the highway and took out the old hospital. Then it went over and started tearing multi-ton hanger doors off the tracks and throwing them a half-mile away. I'm glad it didn't hit the school or I might not be making this comment.