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Nuclear Tests '56 - '58

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Nuclear Tests in the Pacific ~ 1956-1958

Nuclear Tests in the Pacific ~ "Operation Hardtack" ~ 1957 - 1958  - Picture & Comments by Tadd Kowalzyk


Here is a photo of me and a few others on Eniwetok in October 1957 just prior to a personnel change. The 6WS troops arrived later to augment us for Operation Hardtack in the spring of 1958. I do not remember some of them but here goes. Standing on the far left is Charles L. Bell who was a classmate of mine in weather school, next on his left is Mandryk, then J.P. Hicks, then T.D. Lott, on the far right standing is Curvin Weaver of the Base weather unit. Kneeling on the far left is the best looking guy there who didn't make it to 6WS until he washed out of Navigator training in Jan 1962. To his left a base weather observer whose name I do not recall then a TSGT weather equipment man whose name I also have forgotten. Kneeling on the far right is SSGT Barnes who was a weather equipment technician named Barnes. I knew his name as he also worked as a bar tender at Duffies tavern.The permanent party on Eniwetok was about 800 which grew to about 12,000 for operation Hardtack. Some photos etc. at this link http://www.aracnet.com/~pdxavets/wetokian/drake1.htm  taken by some civilians who were permanent party on Eniwetok. One real nice panoramic view of a rare severe thunderstorm complex. Rare as there is very little diurnal heating and no cold air pockets aloft to trigger them at 11 degrees 21 minutes North Latitude. This link http://hometown.aol.com/tkowalzyk/myhomepage/index.html   is a thumbnail sketch of my career and a link or two to weather related and job sites.

Tadd Kowalzyk, 6WS 62-67

Nuclear Tests at Nevada Test Site ~ "Operation Plumbob" ~ 1957 - Pictures & Comments by Bob D'Alfonso

"Operation Plumbob" 1957, Nevada Test Site located approximately 75 miles from Las Vegas. The 28 "A Bomb" tests were conducted at Yucca Flats, part of the Mercury Proving Grounds, a civilian base of the Atomic Energy Commission. Some of the airmen of 6th Weather, who's names I still remember: Sgt Edward Shaw (Group leader), Airman Robert Ferland (from Maine), Airman Arthur Vossler, Airman Leonard Kane ("Benny" from NY), Airman Robert Bishop ("Bob" from Lynn, MA) ,Airman Richard Olson, Airman James Kayes ("Mo" from Kentucky).

M/Sgt Sam Stewart replaced S/Sgt Shaw the Team 21 leader at Yucca Flats in July. Sgt. Shaw was a great guy, and very funny. He was a rather rotund fellow. I remember a trip some of us took on a 3 or 4 day leave, to California. Shaw was with us. We stayed in a fleabag hotel 1 night. We all had too much to drink one night. Shaw got really bombed, and goes up to the room, and passes out half  on the bed, but with his legs hanging over the side. We tried to push his dead weight completely onto the bed, not realizing the bed had wheels. The bed rolled toward the open window and slams into the wall. We almost lost him out the window.

"Operation Plumbob" on 1/2 Per Diem. Good food at $1.00 per meal. Good recreation facilities. Convenient to Las Vegas. Reasonable drive to Grand Canyon, Death Valley, other points of interest.

Webmaster's Note: The Yucca Flats station was the most important team involved in the operation, since in addition to being located extremely near the test site, it was also the team responsible for all records checking of its own, and observations of all the other teams in the operation. (Note taken from 6th Weather Squadron Historical Report)

 Nuclear Tests in the Pacific, Kusae Island ~ "Operation Hardtack" ~ 1958 - Pictures & Comments by Bob D'Alfonso

Crew on Kusae Island "Operation Hardtack" 1958

6th Weather Group to Eniwetok Island. Approximately two weeks on Eniwetok, amid shouts of "White Meat" from those who had already acquired a dark tan. Travel by twin engine sea plane to the island of Kusae, a very small atoll comprised of two mountain islands (remains of extinct volcano) connected by a manmade causeway. The island was occupied by the Japanese prior to and during the 2nd World War. The green covered small mountains contained strategically located caves with big guns (ruins). There were some ruins of Japanese tanks throughout the island. The caves, the causeway, and some masonry buildings were built by native slave  labor  during the Japanese occupation. The population of Micronesian natives was believed to be something less than 800. There were approximately 17 G.I.s including 6th Weather Airmen and a few Army techs and mechanics.

Our compound was on the east side of the lagoon, and was comprised of metal buildings constructed by military personnel several years earlier, for previous nuclear tests. The buildings included a barracks, a chow hall, a refrigerated food locker, and a rec hall and bar. The food locker was full of sides of beef, pork, fowl, and other frozen foods, and drinks were cheap. Our weather obs structure consisted of a wood/tin shed, located approximately 200 yards from the barracks along a dirt path which was lined by Japanese built houses, and native grass huts. Each time we walked along this path to our equipment sheds there were continuous greeting from within these buildings and huts "Allo Bob". Sometimes these were in total darkness, and frequently from youngsters in their birthday suits during the daytime. Kids were everywhere.

A plane would land in the lagoon each week with mail, movies, etc. We had nightly movies in the outdoors, projected on the side of one of the masonry buildings. Natives came from all around to enjoy the movies with us. They walked, or paddled across the lagoon, and mingled with G.I.s sitting on the ground. The men usually brought their drinks of fermented coconut milk with yeast. We had several native cooks who prepared each meal (under the supervision of the military chef). Two laundry girls, Tikla and Yiko did our laundry and sometimes, even embroidered our shorts. Sometimes we would be missing some shorts only to find native girls wearing our embroidered shorts. Each night after the movie, those of us who were not on duty would go back to the chow hall and cook ourselves steaks, grilled bread, etc. Of course there was always fresh fish to be caught off our dock. The variety of fish, large and small  was unbelievable. Fish of every color and shape. The natives would also collect octopus under rocks. They also occasionally feasted on giant sea turtles. We were constantly bombarded by little kids with tin cans begging for ice (cubes). Our ice cube machine produced ice cubes non-stop. The kids would sprinkle the cubes with sugar, or with some island type sweetener for a cold treat .

Half way through our tour on Kusae, I sustained a coral cut which festered into late stage blood poisoning. I was airlifted on an emergency basis to the hospital on Eniwetok. The medic told me that had I not received the penicillin shots when I did (on the plane), I would have lived only another 12 hours. A big reception by native friends when I arrived back on Kusae after a week in the hospital.

The native women worked producing sun-dried coconut meat for market. Young boys collected the coconuts. The men did little or nothing except troll at night in the lagoon for small fish. However the greatest supply of fish for sustinance were collected by the women who would form a human chain in the lagoon to corral large schools of fish. The main diet for the native families consisted of fresh or smoked fish, roasted breadfruit, baked bread made from dried breadfruit meal, chicken, eggs, some pork (wild pigs), and of course a variety of jungle fruit. The island had orange and grapefruit trees that produced fruit almost the size of soccer balls. Each Sunday afternoon the natives dressed in their finest clothes and proceeded to the old mission church to sing. The singing was very unusual, in their native language and very beautiful.

When Operation Hardtack was concluded, we left Kusae via seaplane. Looking down on the island, it was hard holding back the tears, knowing we would never see these beautiful people again. I remembered also that our Laundry girls Tikla and Yiko cried when we left. This was a wonderful experience, which I would not have traded for any other.

Robert D'Alfonso

• Up • Nuclear Tests '56-'58 • Nuclear Tests '62 • Nuclear Tests '62 #2 • Sferics • Tinker AFB, OK • Photo Mapping '62 • Photo Mapping '62 #2 • Photo Mapping '62 #3 • Photo Mapping '63 • Others.. • Others #2 • Others #3 •

For links to additional picture web pages taken by Doug Wilson click on:  Port Moresby #2  -  Wewak #2

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Last modified: 12/06/17