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Detonating nukes over volunteers to prove safety

Ac

Posted by: Andrew Clouther

My historian sense went off today.  Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Department of Defense’s launch of a nuclear missile in Nevada skies over the heads of 6 volunteers.  Say whaaaaaaaaat?  While the action alone is absolutely bat shit crazy, the reason for them doing it is so much worse.  This demonstration was to prove that ‘nuclear warfare’ is safe. 

Dafuq it is!  Wait… what?  First of all… when is any official phrase with the word “warfare” in it safe?  Isn’t warfare by definition NOT safe?  Plus 65 years ago, nukes were still new and exciting - very hip.  ‘Safe’ is not something I think people could buy into though.  How is a BOMB exploding in the sky SAFE?

The term ‘surreal’ doesn’t even scratch the surface on this video.  You see four volunteers being filmed by the camera man, just hanging out, having a good time, trying to block the sun from their eyes… you know, military stuff.  They casually watch the plane over head fire the missile, look down as it explodes in hellfire, look back at it, cheer, and laugh.  I find the excitement in the announcer to be disturbing… more like the fact that there even is an announcer is disturbing. 

Fortunately, the bomb was detonated high in the sky and it was a low yield warhead.  With that said… you wouldn’t have found me volunteering for that.  While I’m sure the volunteers got radiation from the event, none of them appeared to get sick from the demonstration.  In that case success!  Nuclear War really is safe (sarcasm)!

The NPR writers did some research to find some information about the men involved.  The break down is below:

Col. Sidney C. Bruce - died in 2005 (age 86)
Lt. Col. Frank P. Ball - died in 2003 (age 83)
Maj. John Hughes - very common name, but I'm guessing he is Maj. John W. Hughes II (born 1919, same as the above) - died in 1990 (age 71)
Maj. Norman Bodinger - unclear (not listed in the database), he may still be alive?
Don Lutrel - I think this is a misspelling of "Luttrell." There is a Donald D. Luttrell in the DVA database, US Army CPL, born 1924, died 1987 (age 63). Seems like a possibility.

Well the USA stopped testing nukes back in 1992.  Due to this fact, these types of videos aren’t made anymore.  Although this is a terrifying video, WWI and WWII propaganda videos and posters are classic in my eyes.  This one is certainly no exception.

"It's directly above our heads! Ah Ha Ha! Good, good! There is a huge fireball!" -Announcer

[Gizmodo via NPR]

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ

Tags: History, NPR, nukes, safety

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