It was ten years ago Friday morning when the space shuttle Columbia crew was lost. The ship broke apart as it was preparing to land. Residents in Lubbock remember where they were when they heard the news.
"I was driving from out where we live into town and I heard it on the radio."
"I was in the penitentiary in the wreck yard when we saw the space shuttle falling apart."
"I was actually working right down the street in my dad's office and I remember hearing it on the radio so I turned on the TV."
Willie's parents, Audrey and Barry McCool, were living in Las Vegas at the time of the disaster. Barry was teaching at UNLV and they remember that morning vividly.
"We were originally watching the shuttle land because we saw it come over the house," Audrey said. "We were watching it on TV and on the computer expecting it to land."
Once they realized Willie wasn't coming back home, they called family and friends, trying to figure out how to get to Houston as quickly as possible.
"We didn't realize that stuff that was trailing behind the shuttle was parts of the shuttle. We just thought it looked like a normal shooting star going across the sky, but twice as big and twice as bright. Then we came to the realization that the shuttle was not going to be landing," Barry said.
On Friday, the Silent Wings Museum unveiled and exhibit which will last six weeks.
It showcases memorabilia from the shuttle Columbia crew, specifically from Willie McCool and Texas Tech graduate Rick Husband.
Some of the pieces include childhood photos of Rick in a U.S. Air Force helmet as a child and a toy car with the air force insignia on the side.
There's also a poem written by Willie McCool in February of 1975. It's about a beach paradise, but the last line gives a glimpse into his future.
When describing the beach Willie says, "You'd have thought it was heaven, or outer space," showing even at a young age Willie already had an eye towards the stars.
Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved