BIKINI LAGOON ON BAKER DAY, 25 July 1946 — At 0835 on 25 July by the Bikini calendar (24 July in New York), the second postwar atomic bomb test, code-named Test Baker, was detonated underwater in the Bikini Lagoon. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but this live radio broadcast from NBC in the Pacific puts you right at the scene of the blast.
I witnessed the Baker bomb blast from a 40-mm gun tub on the USS Fall River (CA-131), Flagship for the Target Fleet, positioned 10 to 12 miles from the blast. For this explosion, it was not necessary to cover our eyes. As it turned out, the Baker blast was not only far more dramatic than the Able blast, but it did far more damage. Visible to observers were the damage and destruction to the target vessels. But invisible were the after effects of the bomb’s poisonous radiation.
Sixty-three years later, I met Don Mozley of CBS News, one of the on-air reporters at the NBC broadcast. We met at a Broadcast Legends luncheon and Don agreed to be the narrator on the audio edition of my new book, Learning To Cope With Sight Loss. During a break, Don said, “Bill, do you think your macular degeneration was caused by radiation exposure at Bikini?”
“Could be,” I said, “but no doctor wants to go there.”
(Excerpted in part from Operation Crossroads – Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account by William L. McGee. Available on Amazon.)