Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — On the Fourth of July weekend of 1957, Darrell Robertson was on a train from Fort Lewis, Wash., to southern Nevada. He was one of hundreds of young men with orders in hand to take part in a training exercise that they were told was crucial to the fight against communism.
The native of Lamar was headed deep into the burnt landscape of the Mojave Desert, to a place called Camp Desert Rock. There, between 1945 and 1958, the U.S. military conducted 106 atmospheric nuclear tests.
At the time, Robertson said, military brass believed a nuclear confrontation with the Soviets was likely. They were intent on developing a group of troops hardened by repeated exposure to radiation. They thought exposure to radiation was like sunning on the beach: First you burn, then you tan.