Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946
Award-winning World War II military historian William L. McGee recounts his participation at Operation Crossroads, the first postwar atomic bomb tests at the Bikini Atoll in 1946. McGee witnessed Tests Able and Baker from the deck of the USS "Fall River" (CA-131), Flagship for the Target Fleet. An eyewitness account written in McGee's signature spare and straightforward style. More
On July 1, 1946, millions of people around the world waited anxiously by their radios for the results of the first postwar atomic bomb tests code-named Operation CROSSROADS.
Award-winning World War II military historian, William L. McGee, provides an eyewitness account of his participation at Crossroads, an event which many scientists considered the most significant of the twentieth century.
The author, a twenty-year old U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate at the time, who had served in the Pacific theater, was one of the 42,000 military, scientists, and civilian personnel assembled at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands for the two tests: Test Able from the air on 1 July and Test Baker from underwater on 25 July. McGee was assigned to the heavy cruiser USS “Fall River” (CA-131), Flagship for the Target Fleet at Crossroads and responsible for the positioning of the 95 target vessels in the Bikini Lagoon.
Known for his spare and straightforward writing style, McGee provides a detailed eyewitness account of Tests Able and Baker, starting with the plan, the preparations, the build-up, the two rehearsals, and then the tests themselves. To this he adds details from the ”Fall River” ship logs, interviews with ”Fall River” shipmates and other Crossroads participants, and the preliminary observations immediately following the tests.
The Foreword is written by Dr. F. Lincoln Grahlfs, former Vice Commander of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). In the Appendix, “Later Lessons Learned,” two of the nation’s leading authorities on the dangers of radiation inherent in nuclear weapons – Dr. Oscar Rosen, an advocate for “atomic veterans,” and Jonathan M. Weisgall, the legal representative of the people of the Bikini Atoll since 1975 – express their findings and conclusions about the devastating effects of radiation on man, animal, and ships… that no one saw coming. Also in the Appendix, a brief “Development of the Atomic Bomb”.
“I wrote this book to help preserve a part of history few know about today,” says McGee. “The subject is timely with the threat of nuclear warfare still very much in the news today. We have to learn from history… lest we forget.”
Bill McGee is one of the few surviving “atomic veterans” from Operation Crossroads. He is a Lifetime Member of the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). McGee is the author of twenty-two books. “Pacific Express: The Critical Role of Military Logistics in World War II” (BMC Publications, 2009) is on the Marine Corps Commandant’s Professional Reading List for Logistics. “The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bikini, Pacific War Turning Point” (BMC Publications, 2001) won the 2018 Silver Medal Award for History from the Military Writers Society of America.
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