"All we knew is just what came across the TV that something went wrong with it and it blew up," Tommy Patterson said.
Tommy Patterson saw the shuttle Columbia explode on TV- but did not know he would soon become part of its history.
"The part that is cracked is the place my husband hit it with a shuttle to see what it was," Jean Patterson said. "When it felt so hard that is when he began to wonder well maybe it might be part of the shuttle."
Tommy's wife Jean knew they found something important-so she contacted the local sheriff.
"We took a picture of it and they said yes that is a piece of the shuttle," Jean said. "I guess this is a piece that's been found furthest West."
NASA made Tommy and Jean give the 3-inch piece back.
The Patterson's wanted to keep the panel but they understood it was part of a mystery.
"It's been found so far West is unique and why did it come off and where did it start coming apart," Tommy said.
But Tommy and Jean are constantly reminded of their special find.
"It happens three or four times a year every year," Tommy said. "If you see someone they'll ask to I guess just to bring it up."