Aboard the USS Fall River (CA-131), Bikini Atoll, 29 June 1946 – Today the Navy issued all Fall River shipmates special stationery designed for Operation Crossroads. It was not so subtly suggested that we might want to write a letter home – maybe our last before the big Test Able tomorrow. Truth be told, no one knew what to expect.
I wrote to my mother and oldest sister, Doris. If my letter sounds a bit casual, considering the circumstances, remember, we were sworn to secrecy.
(See below for transcription of handwritten letter.)
Bikini, June 29
Dearest Mother & Doris,
We have one more chance to write letters before the test and seeing as how they gave us these special envelopes to use, I thought I’d drop you a short line although they won’t leave these islands until after the first bomb is dropped.
There is quite a bit of suspense in the air around here. To top it off, we had as a special guest aboard today, none other than the Secretary of the Navy [James V. Forrestal]. He gave the ship quite an inspection.
The rehearsal we had last Monday went off okay and now everyone is anxious to get it over with. Well, there’s not much to write about so will make this a one page epistle. I’ll be home before long now.
Lots of love, Bill
(Excerpted from Operation Crossroads – Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946 by William L. McGee.)