During many of those tests, soldiers who thought of themselves as ‘ground grunts’ and were sworn to secrecy, witnessed the atomic explosions first-hand, and from close range.
In Operation Desert Rock, the military conducted a series of nuclear tests in the Nevada Proving Grounds between 1951 and 1957, exposing thousands of participants – both military and civilian – to high levels of radiation.
In total, more nearly 400,000 American soldiers and civilians would be classified as ‘atomic veterans.
Soldiers and civilians were exposed to high levels of radiation, and suffered from radiation sickness, nausea, and cancers. Many of their children were born with deformities.