When were men sent to clean up the field after the first atom bomb test?

3/5/2013 • Ask Mr. History

My dad was stationed in Alamogordo, NM, during WWII. He was on base when the "Trinity" was set off. Could you tell me how long it was after the trial atom bomb was set off on July 16, 1945, that the service men went onto the field to "clean up"? My dad was one of them. Twenty-seven years later, at age 54, my dad died of Leukemia. I think his cause of death was due to the fact that he was sent to the field after the explosion. I have always wondered how long after the explosion he was sent out there. Thanks.

J. Bly

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Dear Mr. Bly,  

I’m not sure of what you mean by "clean up," and it’s a shame your father didn’t tell you before his untimely death. The Army was conducting maneuvers in the area soon after the test, and nobody was fully aware of just how serious the aftereffects of the radiation were until Hiroshima survivors began displaying the first signs and then began dying off in droves (ultimately 150,000 died, about two-thirds of that number being in the course of years after the attack). In 1952 the small bomb crater left by the "gadget’s" blast was filled in, much of the light green glass created from the sand’s silica, called trinitite, was gathered up and disposed of, and the area bulldozed. As of 2005, visitors were advised that the radiation in the area was 10 times normal.

See also http://www.santafenewmexican.com/localnews/Children-of-the-bomb-Six-decades-after-the-Trinity-Site-detonat#.UM9gmKz1GuJ



Jon Guttman
Research Director
World History Group
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