Editorís note: This letter has been edited for length
The summer of 1951, I was a 17-year-old Army private on a train from southern Japan north to Tokyo. The train took us past the ashes of Hiroshima.
The area of ashes was three miles across. This was six years after the bombing.
Most Americans have seen the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb in the movies or newsreel clips; not really very impressive.
In 1953, I was sent to Las Vegas to witness a live atomic bomb test 90 miles north of Las Vegas. We were in a trench two miles from ground zero.
We were instructed to sit down in the trench with our backs against the dirt wall, and doubled over our faces for the blast.
At about 4:15 a.m., the dark night was suddenly brighter than daylight. I could see all of the bones in both hands. The ground was shaking violently, and the blast went over us, dumping dust and trash.
About 15 seconds after the blast, they told us to stand up. The mushroom cloud was already seven miles high and the umbrella of it was nearly straight above us.
Now, that was impressive, frightening and loud! The bomb used in this test was supposedly the same size used on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, 20 kt.
We were then told to march to ground zero to see all the effects of the blast.
Along the way, there were sheep tied to ground stakes at different distances. Some were just dazed, some were scorched and dying, some were dead and burning. Cars and trucks and military equipment were in different stages of damage.
There were two stick-built homes. The first one had all of the windows and doors blow out. The second one was demolished.
The bomb was detonated on a 200-foot tall metal tower. It was melted. The concrete foundation was intact. Very impressive!
This operation was called Camp Desert Rock. Sound familiar? Here we are, 60 years later, and up to this point in my life, Iím not showing any signs of radiation poisoning.
Now we are watching the news about a 30-year madman threatening the world with a nuclear weapon.
History is being repeated once again? He has his big brother watching his back again. Duh! Here in the U.S.A., we are watching the gun control issues?
R.W. Coot Clouse