Home Front / Bomb Testing / part one

Desert Rock Camp

This is the first of a 3-part series about the nuclear bomb testing done on U.S. soil.  This part is the basic overview, the next 2 posts will cover more in detail.

Operation Buster–Jangle was a series of seven (six atmospheric, one cratering) nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States in late 1951 at the Nevada Test Site, Desert Rock Camp. Buster-Jangle was the first joint test program between the DOD (Operation Buster) and Los Alamos National Laboratories (Operation Jangle). As part of Operation Buster, 6,500 troops were involved in the Operation Desert Rock I, II, and III exercises in conjunction with the tests.

Desert Rock I, II, III

Observer programs were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shot Dog. Damage effects tests were conducted at shots DogSugar, and Uncle to determine the effects of a nuclear detonation on military equipment and field fortifications.

Desert Rock IV

Observer programs were conducted at shots CharlieDogFox, and George. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots CharlieDog, and George. Psychological tests were conducted at shots CharlieFox, and George to determine the troops’ reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock V

Exercise Desert Rock V included troop orientation and training, a volunteer officer observer program, tactical troop maneuvers, operational helicopter tests, and damage effects evaluation.

A bomb named Buster

Desert Rock VI

Observer programs were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1, and Apple 2. Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots Bee and Apple 2. Technical studies were conducted at shots WaspMothTeslaTurkBeeEssApple 1Wasp PrimeMet, and Apple 2.

A test of an armored task force, RAZOR, was conducted at shot Apple 2 to demonstrate the capability of a reinforced tank battalion to seize an objective immediately after a nuclear detonation.

Desert Rock VII, VIII

Tactical maneuvers were conducted after shots HoodSmoky, and Galileo. At shot Hood, the Marine Corps conducted a maneuver involving the use of a helicopter airlift and tactical air support. At shot Smoky, Army troops conducted an airlift assault, and at shot Galileo, Army troops were tested to determine their psychological reactions to witnessing a nuclear detonation.

The last two tests, Operation Jangle, evaluated the cratering effects of low-yield nuclear devices. This series preceded Operation Tumbler-Snapper and followed by Operation Greenhouse.

11th A/B shoulder patch

Four U.S. Army units took part in the Operation Buster–Jangle “Dog” test for combat maneuvers after the detonation of a nuclear weapon took place. These 11th Airborne units consisted of:

  1. 1st Battalion 188th Airborne Infantry Regiment/11th Airborne Division
  2. 3rd Medical Platoon /188th Airborne Medical Company
  3. Platoon Company A/12th Engineering Battalion
  4. Battery C /546th Field Artillery Battalion

Personnel were instructed to create foxholes, construct gun emplacements and bunkers in a defensive position 11 km south of the detonation area. After the nuclear bomb was detonated, the troops were ordered to move forward towards the affected area. While traveling closer to ground zero, troops witnessed the nuclear weapon’s effects on the fortifications that were placed in the location in preparation for the tests. The ground troops got as close as 900 meters from ground zero before they were instructed to move out of the area. The Human Resources Research Office was tasked with gathering data on the psychological experiences of the troops after witnessing such a detonation and moving closer towards the affected area.

For the Operation Buster–Jangle series of tests, the Atomic Energy Commission created a set of criteria that must be followed if exposing armed forces, or civilians to the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

to be continued……

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

George “Chip” Chiappetta – Morgan Hill, CA; US Air Force, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, (Ret. 36 y.)

Harold Drews – USA; US Army, Korea, MSgt., K Co./3/31/7th Infantry Division, KIA (Hungnam)

Javier Guttierrez – San Antonio, TX; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Mike “Mad Mike” Hoare (100) – brn: Calcutta, IND; Royal Army, WWII, CBI, 2nd Recon Regiment, Major

Warren Kirsch – New Orleans, LA; US Army, WWII / USMC, Korea

Edward Nalazek – IL; USMC, WWII, PTO, Pfc., KIA (Tarawa)

Antonio Rodriguez – Las Cruces, NM; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 3/7th Special Forces Group, KIA

Frank Stevens – Cordova, TN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, B-17 radar specialist

Clarence Wells – Denver, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 803rd Aviation Engineer Battalion

Martin D. Young – Louisville, KY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Oklahoma, fireman 2nd Class, KIA (Pearl Harbor)

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on February 13, 2020, in Home Front, Post WWII, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 111 Comments.

  1. I had no idea there were so many tests.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You can say that!
    But I guess were different times.

    But look at the consequences of such ignorance.

    Dr. Robert Pendleton, then a professor of biology at the University of Utah, is reported to have stated in 1980, “With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you’d expect only 30-some cancers to develop. With 91 cancer cases, I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you ever heard, or saw John Wayne movie “The Conqueror” 1956?

    Filmed downwind near enough from the explosions test site.

    Not only the movie was a flop, but…

    Here you can read about such disastrous choice of location, and its consequences.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Conqueror_(1956_film)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Saying that Wayne was mis-cast as Genghis Khan is a massive understatement – and then they added Susan Haywood and Agnes Morehead? What the heck were they thinking? Filming downwind of the test site was mere ignorance.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Testing out so many bombs must bring a lot of danger to the soldiers

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Human is the most dangerous creature on Earth. I doubt whether intelligence helps us to build safe and comfortable place for living.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It must have been terrifying to take part. Our soldiers are so brave.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I just found your blog. Pretty interesting. Were you in WWII? My father was stationed in the Pacific theater in the Navy during the war.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to meet you. I’ve taken an interest in your site as well. I was not in WWII, my father Smitty was. He was a glider/paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division. What ship was your father on?

      Like

      • Great to meet you as well. My Dad was a navigator on a naval ship LC(FF) 535. He volunteered at age 17, fudged his birthdate, not long after Pearl Harbor. He was in basic in Green Bay, WI.

        He was at Okinawa for the invasion as his group was shelling the island. I have the flag from that ship in a case now. I know they got hit with a couple of kamakazi attacks as I have a part of the Japanese rising sun off of a Zero.

        He was also at Leyte Gulf. After the war’s end, he was transferred to the Blue Ridge. They were in Shanghai, China for awhile.

        Like

  8. I was aware of some of these tests and how forces were exposed to such unthinkable tests, but such bedraggled details are hard to digest.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Hi GP. I knew there was a lot of testing done on home soil, but I didn’t realize about all the exercises. So many exposed…
    I’m interested to see where you go with this series. My “November novel” (from NaNoWriMo) is set in 1964, in a totally fictional place inspired by real life Rachel, NV and Area 51. My location research turned up some interesting and frightening stuff about the Groom Mine and the Shehan family there (circa 1951). I left details about the bomb and testing out of the story (too complicated for this “atom punk” fantasy), but included some details from Rachel during the gold rush era.
    Sorry to babble… need more coffee. Hugs on the wing!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Never thought about so many different atomic bombs. But all the soldiers and service men were less secured these times. Thank you for the useful information, GP! Have a beautiful weekend! Michael

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Bombs, bomb drills and bomb shelters bring back some unpleasant memories for me.🥺

    Liked by 2 people

  12. What the heck were they thinking!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. How many of theses troops died of cancer or leukemia etc

    Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s unfathomable to me that our government intentionally not only exposed our land and air to the effects of radiation, but then exposed human beings to it as well. Has anyone studied the longevity of those service personnel who were exposed? Terrible.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m old enough to remember cows that ate that ate Strontium 90 contaminated grass that got that way from Russian bomb tests. It promotes things like leukemia and was a scary matter for mothers and fathers in the late 1950s. No doubt the US tests in Nevada and New Mexico were treated as less serious and harmful by the US Government, though we know better now.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I may have the wrong end of the stick, but six years after the two Japanese bombs, it’s as if the dangers of radioactivity were either still not understood, or the troops didn’t matter. As regards the British tests the latter was certainly true.

    Liked by 3 people

  17. Most of those old volunteers would probably be dead by now, wonder just how much the psychological effect had on their life in later years, great intro post gp.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I remember the photo magazines of the day – Life, Look – showing pictures of these tests. They also covered the tests in the Pacific. For some reason I have a vivid memory of reading one of those magazines that showed photos of the blasts while I was in a barber shop on College Avenue (then, now University Ave.) in Lubbock, TX. 1953 or so …

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I remember going outside as a kid in the foothills of the Sierras in the middle of the night, G, to watch the sky lit up by an atomic bomb being set off in Nevada. Quite some entertainment, eh. The folks in Las Vegas would drive up the road and have what would be similar to a tailgate party to watch the bombs blown up. Wonder how many of them ended up with some type of radiation sickness. They still monitor downwind from the sites for radiation left over from the tests, 70 years later. You can visit the stations and see the printouts. And they wouldn’t let Peggy and I drive into the site. The Men in Black stopped us. 🙂 Seriously. –Curt

    Liked by 2 people

    • I imagine the radiation is still hovering – half-life doesn’t dissipate all that quickly. I can understand the interest in seeing the bombs explode – it was unique to the world, but aren’t the Men in Black getting too much residue of the radiation?

      Like

      • I am pretty sure that the ‘Men in Black’ stay upwind, G. And I am also sure that the half life is a heck of a lot longer than ours. I must say watching the whole sky to the east of us light up was impressive.
        As a kid, I had little understanding of the meaning, but I do remember having to practice hiding under our desks with our eyes covered, and the little redhead who insisted on putting her hand on my knee when we watched the movie on what to do in an atomic attack! 🙂 –Curt

        Liked by 2 people

  20. Ordering these troops to observe a nuclear detonation was more than negligent; it was criminally so. And then there is the issue of radioactive drift across the USA. We cannot trust scientists any more than we can trust the government.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Great information. GP. I’m looking forward to the next two.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Found it interesting that they mentioned psychological testing several times. My first thought was the radiation would have had a powerful physical effect on man, animal, plant life (if any) as well as the ground and atmosphere. These blasts would have been devastating in so many ways. Look forward to the next editions.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Very informative post. Thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  24. I’m sorry for the troops to be ordered to be close to ground zero. That is totally insane! The radiation will kill you now or later.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. This is definitely going to be an interesting trio! 🙂 Can’t wait to read what’s next.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I appreciate your interest. The following 2 posts will bring these test more in detail. I split it up because I didn’t want people to have to spend all day reading here! 🙂

      Like

  26. Fascinating history, GP.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Maybe it’s just me, but the proximity of those troops to the blast is worrying indeed. Then they advanced to within 900 metres! That must have had detrimental effects on those involved. Is it too much to consider that the Army was testing the effects on live people deliberately?
    I found this online.
    ‘Death is highly likely and radiation poisoning is almost certain if one is caught in the open with no terrain or building masking effects within a radius of 0–3 km from a 1 megaton airburst, and the 50% chance of death from the blast extends out to ~8 km from the same 1 megaton atmospheric explosion.’
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. How many “downstream” cancers and metabolic diseases were a result of all this testing?

    Liked by 2 people

  29. Over here in Arizona, people have received a settlement from the Government because the wind blew during bomb testing and developed radiation poisoning and mysterious cancers.

    Liked by 2 people

  30. Fascinating and horrifying story. I’m waiting to read what happened to the soldiers who were ordered into nuclear harm’s way.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Honestly? The more I read about this testing and all that went with it, the more ghastly it seems. I remember hearing the military and politicians saying it “had” to be done — deterrence, and all that. And I suppose that’s true, once such things had been released into the world. Still, so much depends on the quality of the people who are in charge the nuclear arsenal, and that’s getting iffier by the year.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. My old Sheriff was one of the lucky troops sitting out there as test subjects. He told his son and I about it, and related that he recalled everyone being told not to look at the blast, and to keep their eyes closed.

    I’m rather surprised cancer didn’t get him. I talked about this with JR a while back, and his conclusion was that the blast had nothing to do with his death in the 90s (he died of a stroke), but that it would explain that two headed sister of his (figuratively, not literally).

    Liked by 3 people

  33. 900 meters seems really close! Too bad there weren’t drones then.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. In the back of the minds of many of the scientists, was the fear that a nuclear reaction could cause the planet to become engulfed and destroy the entire Earth. Once the scientists disproved the hypothesis of this existential threat, they had to prove the repeatability of the prototype reaction, and analyze the resulting damage and survivability of life in the targeted areas.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. I remember hearing about these, but in the form of “don’t eat the snow, it may contain fallout.” I was too young to understand what that meant. I also remember the degree to which Cold War fear permeated our lives. I can only guess that’s what drove this insane testing.

    Once again, thanks for your time and effort in researching this. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m so glad you find it interesting, Dan. Now that you’re retired, you have more time to find other sites more pleasant to read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s more like I have time to really read the sites I follow. My best friend and I had recently been discussing the early nuclear era. He’s still taking history courses at a state college, and he read about how the Atomic Energy Commission allowed people to test what we now know as Fracking, by detonating atomic bombs underground. The idea was that the bomb would create a cavity into which natural gas would migrate and gather. Of course, it would be contaminated, but, well, you know, details…

        Liked by 2 people

  36. If it has to be done it is kinder to others to do it on own soil

    Liked by 3 people

  37. I appreciate your help in telling this story.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Home Front / Bomb Testing / conclusion (with links to Parts 1 and 2) — Pacific Paratrooper | Ups and Downs of Family History V2.0

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