Aboard the USS Saint Croix (APA-231), 1 August 1946 – On 1 August, I boarded the Victory ship USS Saint Croix and headed for San Francisco. Eighteen days later, as she steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge, there wasn’t a dry eye onboard — even amongst this group of newly-seasoned “old salts” who had just come from one of the most important events in history.
My four-year hitch in the U.S. Navy was done. I would be back in civvies on 20 August and officially separated from the service on 29 September, one day before my twenty-first birthday.
However, the damages from the Bikini atomic bomb tests would linger on for years.
As someone said, visible to observers were the damage and destruction to the target vessels… invisible were the effects of the ionizing radiation on man. There would be many later lessons learned.
Excerpted from Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account, Bikini Atomic Bomb Tests 1946 by William L. McGee with Sandra V. McGee.