Home Front / Bomb Testing / part two

On 18 December 1950, President Harry S. Truman gave his approval to use a portion of the U.S. Air Force’s Las Vegas Bombing and Gunnery Range in southeastern Nevada for atomic tests. Construction of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), originally known as the Nevada Proving Ground (NPG), began in January 1951. Construction of what became known as Camp Desert Rock did not start until September 1951. The camp was named for Exercise Desert Rock, a series of atmospheric nuclear tests first conducted at NTS in 1951. This site included Yucca and Frenchman Flats, Paiute and Rainer Mesas, and the Camp Desert Rock area, which was used by the Sixth Army in the 1950’s to house troops participating in atmospheric tests at the site.

Designed as a military support facility for NTS, Camp Desert Rock began as a temporary camp originally part of NPG. It was located twenty-three miles west of Indian Springs, Nevada, in Nye County on Highway 95 and assigned to Sixth Army effective 12 September 1951. Headquarters, III Corps, Sixth Army, chose an area just outside NTS about two miles southwest of the Atomic Energy Commission’s (AEC) Camp Mercury. The site, in the center of Mercury Valley, was bordered by the Spring Mountains and the Spotted Range towards the north and east and the Specter Range to the west. The Army acquired 23,058 acres for Camp Desert Rock from the Department of the Interior on 5 September 1951.

The Army established Camp Desert Rock to stage and house troops involved in training exercises associated with nuclear weapons testing by the AEC. Personnel from all four services were deployed to observe the detonations from trenches, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. After the completion of exercises, the camp adhered to radiological safety measures throughout its use. In 1951, the Army, working closely with the AEC, carried out the Desert Rock exercises to “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.”

188th/11th Airborne Division at Desert Rock

The initial construction for Camp Desert Rock was accomplished by the 231st Engineer Combat Battalion, a North Dakota Army National Guard unit mobilized in September 1950 for the Korean War and based out of Fort Lewis, Washington. The battalion’s mission was to establish, build, and maintain the camp, and construct field fortifications at the atomic test sites. The 90th Engineer Water Supply Company handled the camp’s water supply, to include running water from a 190,000 gallon water tank, and several permanent type latrines with showers, flush toilets, and wash bowls. Temporary sumps for garbage disposal were built by the 597th Engineer Light Equipment Company.

Within the first six months of existence, Camp Desert Rock had grown from a few tents to a relatively comfortable, semi-permanent tent camp with many modern amenities. It had two permanent buildings for mess halls, each of which could accommodate 500 soldiers, electricity to all parts of the camp from nearby AEC Camp Mercury, and telephone, telegraph, and teletype facilities. A sewage system ran throughout the permanent part of the camp. In addition, the camp featured a permanent training auditorium with seating for 400, a post exchange housed in a Quonset hut, and framed and floored tents to house soldiers.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Shout Out >>>>

Major White walks passed some of the 140,000 Valentine cards he received.

Those of you who were kind enough to send Major White, 104-year old veteran and oldest living U.S. Marine, a Valentines card – here is the story and end result!!

https://www.kcra.com/article/feeling-the-love-stockton-vet-gets-140k-valentines-day-cards/30936477#

 

 

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Military Humor – 

“Now is when we need a Plan B”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Robert Cox Jr. – Guston, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO

Armando Groccia – Providence, RI; US Army, WWII

Last Flight

Ned Johnson – Vincennes, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Brandon T. Kimball – Central Point, OR; US Army, Afghanistan, Spc., 3/10/10/10th mountain Division, KIA

Frank Losonsky – Detroit, MI; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI, 23rd Fighter Group/14th Air Force “Flying Tigers”, pilot

Matthew Morgan – Paladine, IL; US Army, SSgt., dive instructor

Glenn Neal – Konawa, OK; US Army, WWII, PTO

John “Donnie” Pullo Jr. – Boston, MA; US Army, WWII, ETO,Sgt., 82nd Airborne Division

Winsbury “Jim” Robinson – Kohimarama, NZ; RNZ Air Force / RAF # 413125, WWII, 485th Squadron, Spitfire pilot

Irvin Sullivan – Wichita, KS; US Navy, WWII, PTO, Lt. Commander, PBY Squadron VP 12 “Black Cat Raiders”, pilot-navigator

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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 17, 2020, in Home Front, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 101 Comments.

  1. Interesting to read the infrastructure that went into establishing these camps, wonder what these sites would look like today, and also what effect it had on the land rights of peoples of the Indian nation as it appears the area selected was Indian country, just my viewpoint gp.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is very detailed, GP. There was even an exchange there? Wow. What a camp. We sure didn’t know back then, did we? I wonder if those people became sick later on.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. There was such a cavalier attitude to nuclear safety in the 1950s. Fancy expecting to ““dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.” Nowadays, we are a lot better informed!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So notable! There is an old movie about this incident. Can’t remember the name at the moment, but it was quite interesting.

    Like

  5. Thank you for sharing the story of Major White’s Valentines. I watched the video of him singing the three verses of the Marine Corps Hymn. It was quite remarkable!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for sharing this story.
    I got a kick out of the military humor

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love the bit about the 140K valentines. My grandfather-in-law lived to be 101. He inspected factories during WWII but wasn’t sent overseas.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post on the nuclear testing. Also enjoyed the follow up on all the Valentines sent the 104-year-old. What a treat that must have been for him.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I really enjoyed the followup to the Valentine story. Sending those cards may have done as much good for those who sent them as for Major White. Reading about the attempts to “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays,” I couldn’t help thinking of what’s going on right now with COVID-19. There’s some good information being put out, but there’s a lot of propaganda and misinformation, too — some of it being used to keep a sense of panic from rising.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The cynic in me keeps whispering that those ‘witnesses’ sound remarkably like guinea pigs …

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The Valentine’s Day link for Major White was wonderful, GP!

    Liked by 2 people

  12. The Wile E. Coyote cartoon was hilarious.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Your military humour is priceless too, GP! 🙂 Poor soldiers. Most of them at least heared after years of contamination about the harmful radiation.
    By the way: Do you think Germany will accept the French offer on collaboration the “Atomic way”? 😉
    Nowadays i think they are feeling like between Skylla (DJT – USA) and Carybdis (Macron – FR) Lol Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.” They sure knew how to lie! I did a double-take on one of the farewell salutes. My heart stopped for a few seconds. Love the Wiley Coyote cartoon!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post, GP. Thanks also for the follow up on Major White.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Outstanding Military Humor today!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It’s pretty amazing how fast we can build when motivated. I had that same reaction reading about the Korean War.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m still hooked on the story, and I love that you followed up on Major White… I saw him on the news last week and he is so adorable!

    Liked by 2 people

  19. A very interesting post. I was aware of how the tests were conducted and it seems completely astonishing now, with hindsight.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.” Not sure I would have put much faith in this, G. 🙂 I’d prefer to error on the side of caution when it comes to nuclear radiation. I rode my bicycle past the site as part of my 1989, 10,000 mile tour of North America and there was an anti-nuke demonstration going on even then. The last underground test was carried out in 1992. There were over a thousand tests altogether. An interesting history for sure. Thanks. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Hello again. Just to let you know I asked my brother-in-law in Michigan to send me a copy of the manuscript my wife and I put together about her father Norman Brown who was a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne in Leyte. “Smitty” may be mentioned in there somewhere, or perhaps in one of the many photos. Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. A necessary infrastructure for testing weapons of destruction, I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. GP, Fun cartoons and I enjoyed hearing about the Marine that ‘we’ helped spread the word about him wanting valentines. Semper Fi!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Oh, and I love the Wiley Coyote cartoon. Protection against anvils, too 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I think I would have rather been sent into combat. Did they have a plan for when they realized the certainty about atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays? 30 and 40 years later they were still debating those effects in Congress.

    Thanks again for the work you put into this series, GP. It’s scary stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been trying to locate a follow up document. I think I have some info in an issue of “The Voice of the Angels” 11th A/B div. newspaper, but I’m going to have to hunt through my file of them. I’ll get back to you.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Like Michael, I have to quote that line.
    “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.”
    That is blatant propaganda that put people’s lives and futures at risk. Pure and simple.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I wonder how the soldiers stationed their ended up later, health wise.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. “dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays.” Yikes — duck and cover

    Liked by 3 people

  29. Even though I recall the articles and controversy surrounding nuclear tests when I was a child, I never knew much detail about them. Thanks also for publishing the link to the Valentines Day cards.

    Liked by 4 people

  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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