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Recollections of an Atomic Veteran

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posted on May, 1 2013 @ 02:44 PM
As requested, I figure this is where I should post. As this could end up equating to a whole lot of information, I'll be breaking this out into 3 parts: background, his recollections and reflections and its aftermath. The point of this thread is an attempt to provide a perspective on this particular part of military history through the retelling of the stories that I grew up with and experiences. When I was growing up, hearing these stories, I always understood that my grandfather made a point of how he was breaching his vow of silence on these matters. He made that abundantly clear. He passed away several years ago and I hope that, through the sharing of his opinions and recollections as they were told to me, can help illuminate a great deal. It was very important to him because the events that occurred disturbed him though it's notable to also understand that he remained involved with atomics for years and years as well as remained in the military. I'll do my best to be as accurate as possible. If I can't recall a particular thing or am unsure, I'll state as much.

Background: In December of 1944, my grandfather went through heavy debriefing and was transferred to Randolph AFB in Texas for pilot training, which he "failed" lol. Afterwards, he was transferred to the 509th Composite Group. and went to the Pacific Theater later that year, although it's absent on the combat report. All we have to validate it was a Japanese officer's sword, some pearls from Japan and a porcelain geisha doll. He remarked that he was very glad that he wasn't chosen to drop the bombs there because he wouldn't have been able to live with himself. A few years later, the 509th became one of the first groups that became the USAF and Strategic Air Command (SAC). He remained in SAC til 1963 according to his AF-11 before being transferred to the Alaskan Air Command in 1964 at Elmendorf. I kind of remember him telling me that he had gotten "hot" and was sent to Alaska to "cool off" as if that would somehow work. My mother doesn't remember that but she also was usually in the kitchen with her mother during these talks. Events that occurred while in Alaska precipitated my grandfather's temporary transfer (he viewed it as a punishment) to the Air Transport Service for a little under 1 year before being transferred to Military Air Command. His final position in the USAF was as a Numbered Air Force Chief of Staff.

As I grew up, my grandfather would frequently tell us stories about his experiences within the 509th and SAC. We absolutely know, according to his heavily redacted military records, that he was at Operation Crossroads (1946) and Operation Upshot-Knothole (1953). When we requested his full service and medical records from the USAF, they missed a handwritten page buried within his medical record that remarked on these radiation exposures. The only other obvious evidence of his atomic career was both his long participation in SAC and a reference to radiological training at Treasure Island in California. My grandfather had a distinct tendency about not telling us which bomb tests he was present at and always emphasized that the information that he was relaying was still classified at the time. I remember him scolding me and urging me not to go to school and start talking about a-bombs because he could get in trouble.
He generally avoided using precise locations so, instead of saying that he was at the Bikini Atoll, he would say that they bombed the hell out of an ambiguous "island in the South Pacific" or "dropped a bomb in the desert" in the case of Nevada.

There was only a couple instances where he did get specific in regards to locations because the location, itself, was very important because of the proximity to highly populated areas. These were stories that, due to his active involvement in the military, he would not discuss with his own children at the time. It wasn't until the early 1980's that he made his decision to tell his grandchildren these stories. His stated reasoning is that we had to know because it could have affected us and also because he believed these events should have been declassified years prior. His thought was that they might not ever declassify them, which he believed to be wrong as his former colleagues were dying These events were not declassified until the mid to late 90's.

His stories: I will never forget the first time that my grandfather told me that he had been involved in atomics. I was about 12 years old when he mentioned it and expressed some disbelief. He made a point of telling me the basic principles behind how an a-bomb was constructed by drawing a very basic schematic of Little Boy on a cocktail napkin. One of the first things that he talked about was the training to drop these bombs. He said that they were incredibly heavy and part of the pilot training for this was forcing the pilots to push the bombers very hard at take off so that they would be able to do so from shorter runways. He said that the incentive to succeed at this was a concrete block wall at the end of the runway. Basically, if you didn't lift off in time, you and your bomber would either pile into the concrete wall or clip it. Neither was a good thing, according to my grandfather, who told me that a lot of pilots crashed into the wall. I've never found a reference to this anywhere but I know that the heavy weight was very true as Little Boy was the equivalent of carrying two mid-size SUV's.

He talked about "bombing islands in the South Pacific" several times. He always remarked that he felt kind of bad about it because they were beautiful islands until the bombs dropped on them. He very clearly stated that he was present at Crossroads and that what he saw there disturbed him terribly. He said that, being in the group that he was, they were all very aware of the dangers that these bombs held. Yet, after the bombs were dropped, he was shocked when the other military there was sent in and began hosing down the ships and more in order to extract the various stuff that scientists had left in the experiment. So, he basically saw men being sent in to what would've been "hot" areas with no protection and it absolutely disgusted him. He said that later, the military stated that they didn't know that this would harm the men but he said that they were lying and that they already knew the potential dangers of radiation. Only a small portion of them were given badges to measure the amount of radioactivity that they were exposed to and they were told that exposure to it could be remedied by taking a shower and changing their clothes.

He'd get pretty upset when he talked about Operation Crossroads in particular and he'd start referencing all the men that he had personally known there who had died, including one friend of his who died of 5 cancers. He said that, later on, the military officials stated that they didn't know how dangerous the situation actually was and that they had no way of knowing the impacts but my grandfather heavily disagreed. He said that they absolutely knew because of things that had happened at Los Alamos and even he knew, from his own training at the time, that going in right after a bomb was dropped was not a good idea. He very clearly emphasized that the military officials in command at the time treated all the men at Operation Crossroads like they were guinea pigs.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 03:00 PM
And nothings really changed ... Thanks for sharing.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 03:18 PM
reply to post by boredsilly

There's more that I haven't posted yet. Just taking a break because I'm feeling a little tapped. He was in it for longer than just Crossroads.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 04:19 PM
reply to post by WhiteAlice
Your grandfather was a caring man caught up in the war. For many in the Pacific front it was nightmarish to say the least.

I've seen pics of the weapon hanging from a hoist, but I never questioned its weight, so thanks for that tidbit of info coupled with a description of the runway wall. It kind of brings a different picture to mind now instead of pics of Enola Gay and crew. Loading it into the plane must have been a monumental and well-rehearsed operation.

Sorry to read about your grandfather's health problems. So many from that era did not suspect their role as guinea pigs. I've heard that the unscrupulous testing of those weapons involved an arms race to see who would be first to develop them. I was often told that everyone's money was on the Russians.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 04:36 PM
His stories, cont'd.: My grandfather was stationed at Roswell for an unknown amount of time and would've been there during the infamous Roswell incident. I didn't think to ask him any questions about Roswell until I was in my 30's. He was really ambiguous, bouncing from saying that he was never stationed at Roswell (to which my grandmother retorted "oh yes you were--don't lie.") to it was a weather balloon and it wasn't a weather balloon. So have nothing to illuminate on that one. He was really confusing on the subject and I gave up trying to get a straight answer out of him.

The other test that he's confirmed of participating in was Operation Upshot-Knothole. His medical record had the handwritten account of being exposed at the Nancy test. His account of it very closely matches what's already out there in terms of radiation exposure to servicemen. Basically, these tests were combined with ground exercises that basically had service men moving into the blast zone immediately after the detonation.
Some good links on Upshot-Knothole:

Mostly, he talked about a couple of incidents that occurred at Kirtland The story that I remember the best was where a bomber carrying a nuclear bomb had crashed into the mountains outside of Albuquerque. He said that they were really afraid that the bomb on the bomber would detonate so no attempt was made to save any of the crew and the bomber was left to burn for 3 days until it was deemed to be safe. He said that what it made it so frightening was its proximity to Albuquerque and that no one was informed of the incident or the potential danger. So for three days, they were sitting there, watching this bomber burn and imagining that Albuquerque could go up in a white flash of light. His opinion was that the people of Albuquerque were very lucky. It was pretty scary to imagine that they opted to not evacuate the city in response. It was deemed secret and the only reason why I think they didn't (my conjecture here) is that it would've risked oversight by Congress in response. He also talked about an incident outside of Albuquerque where a bomb actually accidentally dropped out of bomber but said that that one was not so much of a risk of detonating fully. I can't remember why it wasn't as much of a big deal to him as the bomber crash in the mountains but it wasn't.

The other place that he mentioned was San Francisco. Basically, as being part of SAC, they had to accompany the atomic bombs wherever they were being sent. They would fly them to San Francisco and then they would manually hand them off to be boarded on naval ships. So, if you were living in San Francisco at the time, you were basically occasionally having a-bombs flying into your city without you ever being aware that they were doing this. My grandfather really questioned the proximity that they had to the bombs by the time he told me these stories. He recounted all the times where he'd be physically laying hands on atomic bombs. Even though he would be wearing one of those radiation badges, he rarely had any protective equipment on while he was doing this and a few times, he got a "concerning" dose of radiation.

Those are the major stories that I recall him talking about. Most of the time after he retold the story, he would go on pretty significant rants about the recklessness, stupidity and blatant disregard towards the men's safety in terms of exposures. He used to say that "we were the only country dumb enough to drop not just one atomic bomb on ourselves but several". By the time he, like I said, got "hot" and was transferred up to Alaska, he was already pretty concerned about the exposures. It didn't help matters that some of his colleagues were already starting to get sick and even some of the wives. My grandmother lost a close friend--another military wife--to cancer and she was thoroughly appalled by the fact that they didn't even tell the woman that she had cancer. They lied to her friend until the very end. My grandmother realized that, if she, too, had cancer, then they could just as easily be lying to her. The end result of that line of thought was large amounts of electroshock therapy administered by the military hospital. The "issue" with my grandmother was large enough where my grandfather was demoted out of SAC and moved to the Air Transport Service for being a possible security leak. He managed to improve his standing again to eventually become a NAF chief of staff; however, my grandmother never fully recovered what she endured. My takeaway on the entire issue was that the military valued secrecy to the extent where they were willing to ruin even a civilian's life to keep it.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 04:47 PM
reply to post by WhiteAlice

Well, there's you an issue. Nukes aren't particularly radioactive. You can handle them without any particular concern. If you're going to be around a plutonium-heavy design for months on end, and by 'around' I mean right there a few feet away, then they use Navy alloy to reduce the stray emission you get from Pu240.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 05:03 PM
reply to post by Bedlam

Perhaps now but perhaps not sealed enough back then. You have to remember this was my grandfather's experience during the infancy of nuclear warfare. Some of the bombs were enriched uranium and others were plutonium 239. Whereas they were concerned about premature detonations (to an extent), they were not very careful when it came to radioactive materials despite their attempts to be. That's why places like Treasure Island, where radiological safety and clean up was taught, are still radioactive in some areas. Like my grandfather said, "stupid and reckless" and frankly, I'm going to trust what my grandfather said about radioactivity more than a random stranger on the net.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 06:07 PM

Originally posted by WhiteAlice
reply to post by Bedlam

Perhaps now but perhaps not sealed enough back then.

It's not a matter of sealing - although the tamper and casing systems absorb some of the stray emission of crappy plutonium. It's that the materials themselves are not very radioactive. That's a design requirement, actually, if they have a lot of stray emission, they'll pre-detonate during the compression phase and you'll get a fizzle. So it's a design imperative that the fissiles NOT be any more radioactive than they have to be. It's one reason that you use composite pits - uranium has less stray emission than plutonium.

You can hold a pit in your bare hand. It's slightly warm. But not very radioactive.

...and frankly, I'm going to trust what my grandfather said about radioactivity more than a random stranger on the net.

Your grandfather was mistaken. What is the half-life of plutonium? Of U235? These are on the net, they're well-known numbers. The longer the half-life, the less emissive the element. The half-life of U235 is about 700 million years. Pu239 has a half life of about 25,000 years, but its major emission is alpha particles that don't leave the pit, and the surface emission of the pit is checked by a metal plating they put on there. That stops any alphas from leaving the pit itself, and all you're left with are plutonium's gamma emissions, which aren't that awful.

For one, in a spherical configuration, you have a self-shielding factor of about -10dB - the pit itself absorbs some of its own emission. The weapons tamper and casing provide another 40 to 50 dB of attenuation and at a few hundred cm of distance, you won't catch more than two or three gammas per second from a total plutonium design, a composite design is far less given uranium's lower emission rate.

If you look around and can read the physics, all of this is on the net from reputable sources, but the first thing to do is look at the half lifes, they're stock numbers.

For a solid 4cm Pu239 sphere, you will get something like 2 or 3 mR/hr of gammas, holding it in your hand at arm's length, at least meatballing it on a yellow pad here. If you've got crap grade Pu, you also eat neutrons from the Pu240, which is an issue, and is why Navy alloy is as low a Pu240 content as they can make.

Consider, too, that all the aircrew of B52s flying around with nukes inboard from that time period did not all die.

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 06:53 PM
My grandfather had 4 cancers in his lifetime, all of which were considered to be radiation induced. He was considered to be nearly 100% disabled due to his radiation exposures and was being paid almost $100k annually through disability for that exposure. He was one of the lucky ones in that he didn't have to fight for compensation or coverage. Both he and my grandmother passed away several years ago (my grandmother was considered radiation affected as a downwinder and died of salivary cancer of all things). I'd ask him for a response to you but he's dead and so is she. Now, whether these radiation inducing exposures were related to his transporting a-bombs or were related to his presence at a number of bomb tests, training at Treasure Island or a combination of all the above, that's hard to say. However, radiation exposure nearly took his life 4 times (ironically enough, he passed away due to a heart defect) and took away my grandmother's.

Holding the stuff or even being exposed to it is not that safe. Just ask the uranium miners. Well, guess you can't ask the dead ones but hey, as long as some people didn't die, then no problem, right? And for the last time, you would not want to hold enriched uranium or plutonium for that matter:

From the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Plutonium is a radioactive, metallic element with atomic number 94. It was discovered in 1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. It has several unique properties which make it both very useful and potentially dangerous to handle.

Most of the dangers of plutonium are from inhalation but contact with an open wound can have the same effect.
Uranium miners also received compensation through RECA for lung cancer due to radon from naturally occurring uranium:

So, we're not talking about what you dig up in the ground and is naturally occurring. We're talking about the stuff used to make weapons.

Also found this when I was looking for RECA. They sounded so much like my grandpa on the subject:

posted on May, 1 2013 @ 08:06 PM

Originally posted by WhiteAlice

Holding the stuff or even being exposed to it is not that safe. Just ask the uranium miners. Well, guess you can't ask the dead ones but hey, as long as some people didn't die, then no problem, right? And for the last time, you would not want to hold enriched uranium or plutonium for that matter:

From the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission:

Plutonium is a radioactive, metallic element with atomic number 94. It was discovered in 1940 at the University of California, Berkeley. It has several unique properties which make it both very useful and potentially dangerous to handle.

They're talking about chemical hazards, not radiation. However, you never see a pit that's not plated or clad. You have the same problems handling or machining beryllium, and it's not radioactive at all.

There's a BIG difference between something being chemically dangerous and the danger from its radioactivity. Raw uranium ore does not have enough activity to be dangerous, even over a long period of time. The activity of enriched uranium is only about 5x of depleted uranium. You'd be within acceptable exposure limits if you slept on a bed of enriched uranium.

And of course, within a weapon system, you'll never be exposed to the fissiles chemically.

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 07:44 AM
It is at times like these I wish I were an ATS Moderator. If I were I would ask each friend to applause you to the fullest extent. This thread is a true treasure and you will always have it to show your intelligence and strong ability to archive not only your families experience, first hand accounts of a time in USAF history often over looked or simply forgotten.

Be sure to make copies of this to send to family and save for the future.

My Brother was also 509th. I have nothing more to add as his time came much later and in a time when safety was not an issue.

Please keep bringing more information forward, and if possible some pictures, and personal effects like medals and honors of your Grandpa. He was a true American Hero.

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 07:46 AM
reply to post by WhiteAlice

Also are there any genetic changes which were passed down from his exposure that you know of? Could you be compensated for these risk factors even now as his direct lineage?

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 12:50 PM
Thanks, antar. I've got a few things that I could upload to the thread, including a certificate from Treasure Island, which is pretty cool looking. Just need to redact because I'm one of those "nobody can know who I am" people,
He was pretty highly decorated (older sibling has his medals), with his highest medal being a Legion of Merit with two oak clusters. He had a purple heart somewhere but never wore that. He ended up being one of those military men that go to work in a suit (DoD budget management best we can tell) and got kind of rebellious when he wore his dress uniform for private formal occasions after retirement. He'd pick and choose what he'd wear, lol.

Treasure Island Certificate:

AF-11, Chronological listing of service and combat report. Huge amounts of data left off of his listing of service, which is a very common problem apparently for atomic veterans. My grandfather's full service record for 30+ years of service was reduced down to 47 unique pages (they printed 2 duplicates to bump the actual page count up to 49). (Could also explain Jesse Marcel of Roswell fame's service record oddities that debunkers love to scream about.)
Front side, kind of funny because "Alaska" is listed as "foreign service"

Older service record with less military redactions (and more confusion lol), kind of interesting though because it has his security clearances listed:

His service record is a mess. I unfortunately don't have a copy of the handwritten medical record page showing the Bikini Atoll and Nancy remarks (it was massive and is at my mother's house--we're not on good terms--so choosing life over digging through that to find it again
). I remember when we were both trying to comprehend all that he did, I did note that when he was a director of training, he was training men in groups that used Minuteman.

Almost forgot my mother talked about a time period when she was about 12-13 years old where my grandfather was sent to the UK because they "lost an a-bomb". That would've been around 1957-1958 if she's recollecting correctly. She remembered the trip quite well because he was gone for 6 months and came back with a bicycle for her. Why he was going to the UK for 6 months came out because he and my grandmother were fighting about the trip as she didn't comprehend why the family couldn't go and took it very personally. That's the only time my mother knew anything about what her father did. He was intensely secretive throughout her childhood.

Been contemplating the medical stuff and needed a break last night. It's the thing that chafes us all. Will compile what we know, remark on what we don't know if it's related (basically, medical oddities with questionable relation), and compile some links so that people can understand what was done. The medical issues for the atomic vets and their families were enough that the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima basically begged the US government to help us. That's saying something.

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 03:08 PM

Because the record keeping of atomic veterans was the way that it was, there has been significant issues for these veterans in obtaining appropriate medical coverage and compensation for the damages done to them due to radioactive exposure. As recent as 2011, Congress has been attempting to further rectify this matter. The Radiation Exposure Veteran's Compensation Act relied on service records and estimations of radiation doses based on these records in order to assess these matters. Looking at my grandfather's own records (and keeping in mind that it is reduced down to 47 unique pages in the "full" version after FOIA request), you can see where there is a huge problem. My grandfather, however, was one of the lucky ones in that his rank was high enough that they declared him nearly fully disabled due to service and heavily compensated him. Cannot emphasize that enough; however, for a good chunk of the atomic veterans, they aren't/weren't so lucky. Many of them have now passed away. His medical record may have also been a factor as, during the time period of his stated atomic career, he was going through a full medical check up, including blood tests and urinalysis, every other day--literally. His medical record is massive.

Dr. Rosalie Bertell's testimony on the subject;

Although radiation exposure studies have pointed, time and time again, to transgenic mutations occurring, to date, the only transgenic mutation that is acknowledged by the government is microcephaly. Under the pressure by atomic veterans and their families to do studies after reports of miscarriages and mutations, the government responded by assessing whether such a study could be feasible. The answer was a several hundred page and clear cut no:

Basically, what they stated was that, basing on parental dosage of radiation (again, issues with that that), comprehending what was an effect of radiological exposure and what could have been an effect of non-radiological things (ie. maternal alcoholism, existing genetics, maternal infections, and so on) made attempting to asses whether or not transgenic mutations that may occur among children and grandchildren of atomic veterans as being related to parental radiological exposure unfeasible. That said, increased incidences of congenital malformations (with focus on highly visible/damaging) were indicated as a possibility. They paid no attention to what they considered "minor" birth defects. They spend a whole lot of time estimating what number of birth defects would be expected to occur for the offspring of atomic veterans, based on the size of the group, and stating that these should be expected as normal. However, they have never made any measure of actual birth defects that exist in the offspring of the veterans for comparison. Instead, like I said, they emphasize on a whole slew of other potential factors that could lead to increased birth defects that are not related to radiation exposure. They are not entirely wrong in doing this as, being a DES daughter, I do have congenital birth defects relating to the DES prenatal exposure. However, I also have a lot of other very rare abnormalities that are not related to DES. Even my hair is so incredibly rare due to compounding rare conditions, that it was photographed when I was 14 for publishing in a dermatological journal.

Many of the disorders that are within my family have no prior incidence of them before my mother. She spent years tracking causes of death and medical information in the family history in an effort to explain why we are the way we are. We went from a fairly long lived (with the exception of early death due to infectious disease) family to one of medical anomaly. It's troubling. I have seen reports from other families of atomic veterans that express similar reports of overall family health changes.

Finally, we have a problem of genetic disorders in our second grandchildren and in our first children. We find it tragic that the National Academy of Sciences recently determined they could not perform a study of genetic effects. Money and the ability to obtain the proper cohorts were cited as factors for reaching this conclusion. It continues to amaze survivors that the Executive and Legislative branches of the Government always seem to find money when the issue is of their concern, but somehow the lack of money is always cited when talking about the Government's victims of negligence. Tom Smith, National Association of Radiation Survivors, pg 232

I've already mentioned elsewhere here the issues of hemorrhagic cystitis (beginning with grandfather), enlarged and asymptomatic thyroids, and blood abnormalities. Will go into specifics in a following post because it's pretty startling when looked at as a whole.

edit on 2/5/13 by WhiteAlice because: forgot link

edit on 2/5/13 by WhiteAlice because: and another link lol

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 03:17 PM
My Grandad was in the R.A.F. and he was subjected to nuclear bomb tests too back in the day, he died of esophageal cancer and my Dad has the early onset of it.

The British government only quite recently admitted the link between the two and many vets (or their surviving families) are now getting compensation, not a lot of it I should mention but still, I guess it's unusual for a government to admit liability.

I'd love to give you more specifics but we tend not to talk about death too much in the family, shame really.. seems he was an amazing man. He helped to set up the R.A.F. search and rescue helicopter teams in Britain.

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 03:29 PM
Hi White Alice,
I have a keen interest in the history of nuclear weapons.
It was quite interesting to read the story about your grandfather.
You are very lucky to have heard his stories from his first hand experience.
Thank you for sharing it with us.
edit on 2-5-2013 by SolidGoal because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 04:28 PM
reply to post by WhiteAlice

Thank you for posting this gem.

Here are some photo's of the Operation Crossroads Baker shot I had uploaded for a previous thread.....

2nd shot of Crossroads test series, Baker was a 27 kiloton fission device (very small by modern thermonuclear standards)

An idea of the scale of the detonation. Many believe the dark shape to be the 27,000 ton 560 ft. long hull of the battleship U.S.S. Arkansas.

Water color by one of the observers to the event

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 04:40 PM
reply to post by Mister_Bit

I'm glad to hear that these potential effects are being acknowledged by the British government. These atomic veterans paid a heavy, heavy price themselves and I know that my grandfather really struggled with dealing with any defects and health issues involving both his children and grandchildren. I'm not so interested in compensation but really wish they would actually do some studies as I think that families like yours and mine have a right to know.

I'm so sorry to hear of your dad's struggles. My mother was in her early 20's when she had part of her cervix removed due to potential precancerous tumours. They never gave her the results of the biopsy and when she tried to obtain her medical records from the military, they no longer existed. Same with my grandmother's. Not sure if it's due to possible radiation exposure or ??? but it's interesting, nonetheless, as they had no problem handing over my grandfather's. Both my grandmother and mother had longstanding issues with hemorrhagic cystitis and enlarged thyroids--both of which can be tied to radiation exposure. It's very frustrating.

What we've got going in my family in terms of rare genetic disorders are these (incidences in population in parenthesis so people can comprehend that these are indeed rare):
Monilethrix (

posted on May, 2 2013 @ 06:56 PM
Thank you, SolidGoal and Drunkenparrot. It's kind of funny but I understood the uniqueness of what he was telling me even as a kid. That might have been his constant reminders that it wasn't supposed to be talked about at the root of that awareness, lol. My mother won't talk on the subject at all and even pretended that she was surprised to see the reference to the Bikini Atoll and Nancy in his medical record just a couple years ago. It's funny because she wrote about his telling us stories about his time in atomics in his obituary just a couple years before that. Old habits die hard. I never thought to talk much about it to others outside of the family and I think it's because we were constantly urged to be quiet on the matter.

Radio Bikini is a really good documentary on Operation Crossroads so definitely give it a view if you get the chance. It's pretty poignant and also features interviews with the chief of the Bikini Atoll's native inhabitants. The Marshall Islands are a significant sore point in terms of the atomic bomb tests in the area as a few of the islands were hit with the radioactive fallout from the Bravo test. They are a frequently forgotten portion of the story so it's really worth consideration. Second link is an excerpt of a book on the subject of the Marshall Islanders and the effects of the atomic testing that took place there. It's a good read.

Radio Bikini:
They Never Knew: Victims of Atomic Testing by Glen Allan Cheney:

Wish I was on better terms with my mother as we do have pictures of my grandfather being somewhere where everybody is running around in a state of half dress with palm trees in the back. Don't know where it was at but definitely somewhere in the Pacific so not sure if it's actually from the Bikini Atoll. Would've been great to scan them and see if anybody could sleuth out where the photos were taken so my apologies for that. Could be Tinian Island, Bikini Atoll or some random tropical Pacific island where nothing happened for all I know, lol.

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