Operation Crossroads at Bikini

Cover of Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! An Eyewitness Account by William L. McGee



ON 1 JULY 1946 BY THE BIKINI CALENDAR (30 June in New York), millions of people around the world waited anxiously by their radios for the results of the first postwar atomic bomb test.  No one knew what to expect. 

Bill McGee was one of the 42,000 servicemen, scientists, and civilians at the Bikini Atoll who stood in harm’s way and exposed themselves to the first postwar tests of the atomic bomb.  This is his story. 

“A sobering, but entertaining read.” – Mark Barnes, WarHistoryOnline.com


More eBook Sellers: Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

 Table of Contents

Excerpts from the Book 

Archival Film Footage From Bikini 1946

NBC Radio Live Broadcast from Bikini, Test Baker, 25 July 1946

Scroll Down for Editorial and Reader Reviews


William L. McGee, 75th Anniversary of Operation Crossroads

Author and atomic veteran William L. McGee at the National Atomic Testing Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2016

BILL MCGEE, USN, HAD A FRONT ROW SEAT at Operation CROSSROADS from aboard the USS Fall River (CA-131), Target Vessel Control Ship for the Target Fleet. The new heavy cruiser was responsible for positioning the 95 target vessels in the Bikini Lagoon for Test Able from the air on 1 July 1946 and Test Baker from underwater on 25 July 1946.The objective was to test the atomic bomb on wartime vessels, equipment, and animals.

In his signature journalistic style, McGee tells his story, accompanied by contributions from fellow eyewitnesses, excerpts from the Fall River ship log, and the early and later opinions of atomic testing experts.

134 pp, 52 B&W photographs & illustrations.

WILLIAM L. MCGEE is an award-winning World War II Pacific war historian. His writing career has spanned six decades. He is a WWII veteran of the Pacific war and an atomic veteran of Operation Crossroads.


Operation Crossroads, Lest We Forget! – Editorial Reviews

“Operation Crossroads is an account full of old photographs, personal mementos, statistics, copies of routine schedules, ship’s orders, logs, newspaper articles, other eyewitness accounts, and writings from experts in the field….This book preserves the legacy of those who participated in this operation. In the post-World War II era, this event and its lessons should be remembered, and warnings heeded.”
– Military Writers Society of America

“Well-written and engaging … The inclusion of material by other writers adds important elements to the story.”
– Giff Johnson, editor, The Marshall Islands Journal, and author Nuclear Past, Unclear Future

“An excellent book. I read it the day it arrived.”
– Robert L. Ruyle, Nebraska State Commander, and editor of the National Assn. of Atomic Veterans Newsletter

“A one of its kind firsthand story … McGee explains what he saw—from the dangers posed by radiation unknown to the men, to the lessons learned after his participation in one of the most important and pivotal events in human history. His experience illustrates that the greatest danger of nuclear warfare lies not in the immediate hellish blast from an atomic bomb, but from the deadly radioactivity lingering in the fallout. What a great educational lesson for us younger generations. Add another great masterpiece to the existing collection from gifted author and historian William McGee.”
– Zach Morris, editor, LST Scuttlebutt magazine



THE ARK (Belvedere-Tiburon) July 27, 2016

LST SCUTTLEBUTT  (Magazine of the U.S. LST Assn.)  June 2016

NAAV NEWS (Newsletter of the National Assn. of Atomic Veterans)    2nd Quarter 2016



Operation Crossroads – What Readers Are Saying

“The author and I both came aboard the new heavy cruiser USS Fall River in January 1946 in Norfolk, Virginia. I was a Quartermaster and he was 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. When Mr. McGee’s 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 is that the author has been legally blind since 2003 from macular degeneration, and lives with multiple types of cancers, which he said may or may not have been caused by radiation exposure at Crossroads. Thanks his co-author and wife, Sandra, Mr. McGee was able to get his story told. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know what it was like to be at Crossroads and what happened afterwards. I’m placing my order for two more copies.”
– John W. Stambaugh, former Quartermaster 1/c, USS Fall River (CA-131)

“Have it! Read it!  Love it! It’s an eyeopener!  This is a concise account of the Bikini atomic bomb tests in 1946 by an eyewitness. He includes his own observations as well as those of his shipmates and the ship’s log. He describes in detail (and with photos) the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons.  Despite 50 years of discussion and negotiation regarding limiting or eliminating nuclear weapons, there are still thousands in the arsenals of several countries with more to come.  Thank you for your service and thank you for reminding us that nuclear weapons should never be used. I give this book five stars.”
– Wyman Harris

“Excellent slice of life narrative following the end of WW2. First, the author’s journey to the East Coast, hoping for a stint in postwar Europe; then serving on the USS Fall River at the atomic bomb tests at Operation CROSSROADS in the Marshall Islands. Well done in terms of day-to-day life and filled with humor and the “hustle” of just getting by. The author’s descriptions of being at Crossroads put me there. Appendix I, “Later Lessons Learned”, was a great way to wrap up the book, as well as illustrating to the reader that this terrible legacy still lives on — lest we forget.”
– Brian Cowden, writer/director of the documentary Atomic Veterans Speak

“McGee has crafted a narrative that drew me in and would not let me go until I finished the book in one sitting.”
– Dennis R. Blocker II, Pacific War historian, National LCI (Landing Craft, Infantry) Assn., and researcher for The Heart of Hell

“The author has documented this historically significant event so succinctly–and made it come alive–that the reader is on deck of the USS Fall River, shielding their eyes, and awaiting the blast of a monster.”
– Marilu Norden, author, Unbridled, A Tale of a Divorce Ranch

“Includes a compelling, well-documented exposé of the cover-up after Operation Crossroads.”
– John Houck, beta reader

“I was so caught up in the story, I may have failed my assignment as a beta reader.”
– Michael Olson, author, Tales from a Tin Can, USS Dale

“The magnitude of Crossroads as seen by the author and his participation in it come alive. . .  As a yachtsman, I particularly enjoyed reading the actual log entries of the USS Fall River (CA-131), the Flagship for the Target Fleet.”
– Mel Owen, Owen Wickersham & Erickson