Countdown Zero: GI Victims of Atomic Testing

COUNTDOWN ZERO: GI Victims of U.S. Atomic Testing

A superb nuclear heart of darkness story is hiding in these true tales of atomic woe. Skip to chapter 3 and revel in what watching too many nuclear shots can do to a mind and body. Innocent army man Orville Kelly served as the noncom commander of Japtan Island in the Eniwetok Proving Grounds during the 1958 Hardtack series of nuclear weapons tests. He and the fourteen communications specialists he was in charge of thought they were in paradise until they received orders to proceed to the beach, put on their goggles and watch. Over the next year and 22 nuclear test shots moral was severely tested:

"One evening, on a walk around the island Kelly saw a sudden movement in the jungle. He was able to make out the form of one of his men. The man had caught one of the island's dogs and was having intercourse with it. Kelly was sickened and returned to his room and wept. He knew that he and his men were dangerously close to a psychological breaking point. Some had already disintegrated. He felt he would lose his mind if he did not escape from the island to a place with normal patterns of behavior."

While the shots were working on Kelly's brain they were also doing a job on his body. The rest of the book is his fight with PTSD, radiation caused illnesses, and the military and the VA for recognition of atomic veterans. Be sure to go back and read chapters 1 and 2 for Thomas Saffer's fun in the Nevada desert while participating in nuclear field exercises.

Kelly and his wife founded the National Association of Atomic Veterans (NAAV). They have a web site, Don't miss the gift shop for atomic wear, bumper stickers, and a certificate that proves you are an atomic vet. [CS]

COUNTDOWN ZERO: GI Victims of U.S. Atomic Testing
by Thomas H. Saffer and Orville E. Kelly
Copyright 1982
Penguin Books
ISBN #0140067248


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