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May 3, 2017

In 1957, Five Men Stood Directly Under an Exploding Nuclear Bomb on Purpose

On July 19, 1957, five military men stood at Ground Zero of an atomic test that was being conducted at the Nevada Test Site. This was the test of a 2KT (kiloton) MB-1 nuclear air-to-air rocket launched from an F-89 Scorpion interceptor. The nuclear missile detonated 10,000 ft above their heads.

A reel-to-reel tape recorder was present to record their experience. You can see and hear the men react to the shock wave moments after the detonation. The sound you hear on this clip is from the original reel to reel tape.

This footage comes from the National Archives. It was shot by the U.S. Air Force to demonstrate the relative safety of a low-grade nuclear exchange in the atmosphere. Two colonels, two majors and a fifth officer agreed to stand right below the blast. Only the cameraman, George Yoshitake, didn't volunteer.

The five volunteers were:
Colonel Sidney Bruce
Lt. Colonel Frank P. Ball (technical advisor to the Steve Canyon tv show)
Major Norman "Bodie" Bodinger
Major John Hughes
Don Lutrel

What Happened To The Guys In The Bomb Video?

According to NPR, from their researches, they quickly discovered that George Yoshitake, the cameraman, was alive. In 2010, he was interviewed in the New York Times and talked about his fellow cameramen who took pictures of atomic bombs. Yoshitake also appeared in some interviews in 2012 with CBS News and The Huffington Post.

Military folks who have died can be found in the Department of Veteran's Affairs Gravesite Locator — and since all the video guys were Army and all World War II veterans, we might find some matches.
Col. Sidney C. Bruce — died in 2005 (age 86)
Lt. Col. Frank P. Ball — died in 2003 (age 83)
Maj. John Hughes — died in 1990 (age 71)
Maj. Norman Bodinger — unclear (not listed in the database), he may still be alive?
Don Lutrel — died 1987 (age 63)
Over the years, the U.S. government has paid some $813 million to more than 16,000 "downwinders" to compensate them for illnesses presumably connected to the bomb testing program. So it is clear that tests like these — often done to demonstrate the safety of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere — were not safe at all.



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