Aboard the USS Fall River (CA-131), Bikini Atoll, 29 Jun 1946, Test Able Minus 2 – Two days before Test Able, the U.S. Navy issued Fall River officers and crew Operation Crossroads stationery – with the not so subtle suggestion we write a letter home, maybe our last. I wrote to my mother and sister Doris in Seattle, Washington. If my letter sounds a bit casual (see transcription below), we were sworn to secrecy.
The artwork on my envelope showed the Fall River in black and a bomb blast in red. If we survived Test Able, a special cancellation would be applied to the envelopes (200,000 all total) with the killer bars reading “ATOMIC BOMB TEST/BIKINI ATOLL”. (The word “TEST” was cut off of my envelope, probably when it was opened.)
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.
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