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Tempest In A Teaspot

Updated on November 9, 2014

or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

Taking place during the 1950’s, Operation TEAPOT was the fifth in a series of tests within the continental United States for the Atomic Energy Commission. Fourteen nuclear blasts were arranged, each with different delivery systems, such as tower blasts and air bursts as well as the configuration of the bombs. Various experiments were conducted throughout the series including one known as Operation 32.2a which was created to determine whether bottled, canned beer and other comestibles would be tainted by the radioactive fallout. Thankfully it was determined by the military experts that all of the canned and bottle liquids remained potable and safe for human consumption.

During the Desert Rock VI Exercise, which was conducted during the Apple II test shot, live troops were utilized to "dispel much of the fear and uncertainty surrounding atomic radiation and the effects of gamma and x-rays." At ground zero, trenches and foxholes were dug. Sheep were caged either above ground or in entrenchments while dummies in full combat gear and various military materiels were placed in various positions with different levels of exposure. All were tagged with film badges that would document the levels of radiation that they received.

The troops of Task Force RAZOR were stationed at various distances from ground zero with most of the troops being huddled together some seven miles from the blast site on open ground. An armored division was positioned a mere 984 yards from ground zero and was ordered to move inward while the mushroom cloud was still forming. Other pictures show soldiers standing in the open far closer than seven miles, yet the documentation of such troops being ordered to remain there is lacking.

On May 5th, 1955, an 29 kiloton nuclear bomb was detonated from a plane high above the Nevada Test Site just 75 miles Northwest of Las Vegas. Archived film of the event show the blinding flash and, a minute later, a deafening roar as the horrendous wave of sound, debris and radioactive particles swept over the mass of troops gathered in the dessert. Thankfully, the army briefed the troops to keep their head down during the initial detonation of the bomb. They were ordered to turn and face the pillar-like mushroom cloud after the brilliant flash dissipated.

The troops comprising Task Force RAZOR were only slightly luckier than the five Air Force officers who stood at ground zero on July 18th, 1957 as the first air to air nuclear rocket was detonated over their heads; heads that were not encumbered with any type of helmet, goggles or any other type of protection. Thankfully, all this was done as a precautionary exercise to keep the American public safe. I am sure that this would be the last time that our government would use their own personnel or the populace at large as guinea pigs in order to further their own agendas.


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    • Uzochukwu Mike profile image

      Uzochukw Mike 2 years ago from Oba

      Nice information