While most people know about the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, few are aware that an additional 2,000 atomic bombs were detonated after World War II and tested on hundreds of thousands of young soldiers. The betrayal and horror they feel is immense. Here they describe their stories.
“In the process of [putting our hands over [our] eyes [as directed by military leaders], you saw every bone in your hand… It’s a sight to see, but I never want to see it again.”
“When I was 21 years old, I was sent to Christmas Island and witnessed 5 nuclear detonations. That was the defining point in my life… from the moment I saw the first one…
When the flash hit you, you could see the x-rays of your hands through your closed eyes. To say it was frightening is an understatement. I think it shocked us all into silence… Then the heat hit you and that was as if somebody my size had actually caught fire then walked through me. It was an experience that was absolutely unearthing…
Over a ten-year test period, there were 22,500 personnel. In 2013, we estimated that 18,500 had died and practically nobody had died of natural causes. They all died of leukemias and cancers and carcinomas of one sort or the other.
We were basically used as guinea pigs. There’s no other word for it…
My first daughter was born in 1960 and sadly, by the time she was 11, she developed a problem which completely changed her appearance. She grew a hump on her back. She started to grow hair all over her body. We had to shave her twice a day. She suddenly passed away in my arms.”
“At the age of 18, they sent me to the nuclear test site. It was utter devastation… If I was looking at you now, I would see all your bones… About 30 second later, you’d get the blast, and the blast would knock you flying… All I saw was this blazing fireball… a colossal fireball was going up… I think it was too much for some of them. Some of them were crying, asking for their mum. It was awful.
The other thing which devastated me… it took me a long time to recover from this and I will never forgive the authorities for putting me in this situation… I couldn’t have children.”