Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Dad


I was the Charlie Battery personnel clerk for the 653 Field Artillery
Battalion(observation) stationed in Fort Sill, Oklahoma in 1993.

Our men (118 enlisted and 4 officers) were hand picked on the basis of
their hi I. Q. scores.

We were trained to work with sophisticated plotting equipment in
detection of the location of enemy artillery. We used : Sound detecting
devises, Radar, and Flash triangulate using a high degree of math.

I was notified by Battalion commander to prepare to move the Battery to
Desert Rock, Nevada on temporary assignment.

I packed up the 201 files and made sure everybody had their required

We caravaned across country in trucks and jeeps, sleeping over at
different Armories along the way......

Our last stop,before arriving at Camp Desert Rock was Bolder Dam/ Here
we spent the night sleeping in the Bolder Dam theatre.

Jerry Lewis,(comedian) stopped by and talked to our small group. He
later invited the whole group to be his dinner guest at the Copa Room in
the sands. (that was fun...the hotel sent buses for us and we met Dean
Martin (Lewis's straight man) and everything was on the
house...including all we could eat an drink.

Camp Desert Rock is a tent station..with a fe quonset huts.

I lived in a nine man tent and worked with other battery personnel
clerks .. our commanding officer was Lt. Joseph Bruining.

We were under the impression that we were there to train in plotting the
location of atomic artillery.....(we were there as guinea pigs....and
we were sent down ranger every time the guys at Camp Mercury (the
attached facility) decided to detonate a bomb.....

For most of the men..this amounted to five or six shots....Both Apple
and Tea Pot.........

The drill went like this....the men were loaded up in trucks around 2:00
A. M.....and driven into the desert about fifty miles down range. We
were given density goggles (3.2) had on our regular field dress along
with our helmets and liner. We also were given a dose meter that was
to register the amount of exposure to radiation. (the theory was that
if we got 5 rinckon of exposure, we got to go home. Nobody ever went

The shots that I experienced were all tower shots. We were told to enter
the six foot deep trenches (long and deep machine dug straight
trenches...about four in number located about 4,000 feet from ground

The tower was about 100 feet in the air.....and it was the
sun slowly started raising some one on a loud speaker began the count
down.......starting at 10....I got as far down in the trench as I could
in the fetal position..with my gloves over my opaque density goggles....

I heard the announcer say: "two" and all of a sudden everything lit
up....even with my eyes closed and with the goggles I could see the
bones in my hands....

the trench began shaking violently,moving two feet back and forth...

ad then sage brush, dirt, rocks came flying over my head......

We were then told to come out of the trenches. We walked to the area
where the tower had had been vaporised.

as we walked through ground zero, we were swept with brooms and Geiger
counters were buzzing.....

Our unit was stationed at Desert Rock for four months.

We loaded up our equipment and caravaned back to Fort Sill.

David B. Gardner SP3

1 comment:

Mama Burns said...

What a horrifying story. And that was back when people implicitly trusted that the government had their best interests at heart. It makes me think of the government sanctioned experiment in the South; can't recall exactly but I think it was called Muskeegee or something like that, in which black men were deliberately infected with syphyllis or some equally awful disease, and not treated, just to see what would happen to them.