Aboard the USS Fall River (CA-131), Bikini Atoll, 29 Jun 1946, Test Able Minus 2 – Two days to go to the big day, Test Able on 1 July, a 23 kiloton atomic bomb detonated in the air. The U.S. Navy issued Fall River officers and crew Operation Crossroads stationery, with the not subtle suggestion to write a letter home, maybe our last. I wrote to my mother and sister Doris in Seattle, Washington. Considering the circumstances, if my letter sounds a bit casual (see transcription below), we were sworn to secrecy.
Transcription of My Letter Home
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 with Sandra V. McGee.