In today’s mail call, a letter from USS Fall River shipmate, John Stambaugh …
Dear Mr. McGee:
I had been following with keen interest your five-part series in the U.S. Navy Cruiser Sailors Association magazine about the USS Fall River (CA-131) and its participation in Operation CROSSROADS in 1946. We both came aboard the new heavy cruiser in January 1946 in Norfolk, Virginia—I was a Quartermaster, you were a Gunner’s Mate. Little did we know, in a few months, the Fall River would be the Flagship for the Target Group of 95 vessels at Crossroads, and we would have a front row seat for two atomic bomb tests: Able from the air and Baker from underwater.
I got as far as Part III and then the series stopped, so I decided to write you. You told me you had received so much feedback from readers that you decided to turn the series into a book, which you then published in summer 2016, in time for the 70th anniversary of Crossroads.
Then you kindly offered to send me a copy (we were former shipmates, after all). When the 132-page book arrived, I read it in one sitting. I was impressed with the amount of detail and I learned a lot about the damage done by radiation to the ships and the men who served on them. What also impressed me, Bill, is that you have been legally blind since 2003 from macular degeneration, and you live with multiple types of cancers, which you said may or may not have been caused by radiation exposure at Crossroads. Thanks to your co-author and wife, Sandra, you were able to get your story told.
I highly recommend your book to anyone who wants to know what it was like to be at Crossroads and what happened afterwards. Enclosed is my check for two more copies—signed, please.
—Sincerely, John W. Stambaugh, former Quartermaster 1/c, USS Fall River (CA-131), and Life Member of USNCSA
Available from Amazon Operation Crossroads – Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946, by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee. Paperback or Kindle editions. To buy a signed paperback copy ($25.00 includes shipping), click on “Signed Copies” on the menu bar of this website.