|Volume 3 Issue 4||Fall 1998|
|PUBLISHED BY: SCOTT BOSECKER|
NANCY BLAST: OPERATION UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE
Just over 45 years ago, on March 24, 1953, a young Korean War veteran crouched in a trench in the pre-dawn darkness of the Nevada desert. Staff Sergeant Richard M. Bosecker, along with about 2350 other military enlisted men and officers, was about to witness an atomic bomb blast.
At 5:10 AM the device was detonated and produced a explosion equivalent to 24,000 tons of TNT. The first photograph (above) would have been taken seconds after the detonation of the device. The second photograph was taken a few minutes after the initial detonation.
Richard Bosecker's recollection of the events surrounding his participation in this weapons test will be recounted in the following pages.
Operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE was the 9th series of nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States. The tests took place from March 17, 1953 to June 4, 1953 and consisted of 11 nuclear blasts. Three of the bombs were dropped from aircraft, seven were detonated on top of towers ranging from 100 to 300 feet tall and one was an atomic artillery projectile fired from a 280mm cannon. The blasts associated with UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE were intended to test nuclear devices for possible inclusion in the military arsenal, to improve military tactics, equipment and training and to study civil defense needs.
The "Nancy" shot that took place on March 24, 1953 was the second of the eleven blasts conducted during operation UPSHOT-KNOTHOLE. The 2350 troops involved in the test were divided into two Battalion Combat Teams (BCT's) and placed in trenches located 4000 yards south-southwest of ground zero. In addition to the troops in the trenches, 9 officers volunteered to man a trench located 2500 yards from the blast.
After the weapon was detonated the plan was for the two BCT's to leave their trenches and advance to positions about 1000 and 2000 yards northwest of ground zero. This movement was designed to simulate an "attack" on these locations. As the BCT's proceeded towards their objectives, sensing equipment reported radiation levels that were deemed unsafe. As a result, neither BCT was able approach any closer than 500 yards to its objective.
The BCT's abandoned this part of the exercise and moved to a position about 1000 yards from ground zero. At this position the troops observed effects of the blast on military equipment, field fortifications and sheep.
During this time damage effects evaluation teams measured the damage to the military equipment and field fortifications, a medical team examined the condition of sheep that had been placed in various locations ranging from 100 yards to 3000 yards from ground zero and a chemical team retrieved film badges that had been placed in the fortifications and on various stakes to measure the amount of radiation that the blast had produced.
RICHARD BOSECKER'S RECOLLECTIONS
I was drafted and inducted into the United States Army on October 15, 1951. I arrived in Korea on Easter Sunday of 1952. On October 17, 1952, I was wounded by a mortar fragment and transported from Korea to Osaka, Japan to an Army hospital. I spent about 8 weeks in Japan and then was shipped back to the United States where I took 30 days leave at home in Indiana before reporting to Camp Carson, Colorado.
Although I had been assigned to infantry units up to this point, I now found myself in a basic training artillery battery. When I arrived at Camp Carson, I was a corporal and I helped train the new recruits.
In early March of 1953, the battery commander, Captain Hardy, called me and a Sergeant Worrall to his office. Captain Hardy told us there was going to be an atomic test at Yucca Flats, Nevada involving military personnel. The military participants would have to attend a couple of classes and would be gone from Camp Carson for about 10 days. The Captain wondered if Sergeant Worrall and I would be interested in volunteering to go to the test. The Captain told us to think about it and to give him an answer the next day.
Worrall and I left the Captain's office and we discussed the Captain's proposal. We decided that getting away from Camp Carson and basic training duties for 10 days sounded pretty good. We decided to volunteer.
After we volunteered, we attended a couple of classes with about 50 other men from Camp Carson. The instructors were officers familiar with the testing program and to the best of my recollection, they presented one class in the morning and then the second in the afternoon. The officers told us how many other people would be there, that we would be in trenches during the blast and how far we would be from the blast. There was quite a bit of technical information about radiation that basically was over our heads.
We had all heard how powerful the atomic bombs were. The main point that the instructors were trying to get across in these classes was that even though these weapons were very powerful, their power was limited; they could be experienced safely from a distance.
The remainder of the classes covered the logistics of the operation. Transportation to and from the test site, what our daily schedule would be and the fact that we would get some free time to spend in Las Vegas was covered. At the end of the classes, we were given a paper to sign. Although I remember signing the paper, I don't remember what was written on the paper.
A couple of days after attending the classes, I, along with the other 50 men from Camp Carson, boarded a train to Las Vegas via Salt Lake City. I was on the train for 2 days and 2 nights. From Las Vegas we took military buses to the test site.
When we got to the test site we went through security and were taken to our encampment. We stayed in tents which held about 24 men. I'm pretty sure we were issued a fresh set of fatigues. I can't remember the exact schedule of events but we were given some more briefings and we also went out to where the trenches were and did a "dry run" of what we were going to do the morning of the test. We also spent some time in Las Vegas but I can't remember if this was before or after the blast.
On the morning of the test, before the sun had come up, we got into buses and rode to where we would be observing the blast. There were 5 or 6 trenches spaced about 12 to 15 feet apart. The trenches were about 5 feet deep. When you stood up in them, your head was all that was above the ground. Although it was pretty dark, we knew what to do because of the "dry run" the day before. We got in the trenches. There was a fellow with a radio that passed the word to us as get ready for the blast. We had been briefed to crouch in the trench and they recommended covering your eyes with your hands, so that's what I did.
In two or three minutes, despite the fact that my hands were over my eyes, there was a brilliant light that blinded me and I felt heat. I removed my hands but was unable to see anything but white. A few seconds later the ground "rolled" as if on a small boat in a two foot swell; then came the noise of the explosion, which was deafening. A short time later there was a rush of wind from the blast.
By now I had regained my vision and we were told to get out of the trench quickly and to look behind the trenches. What they wanted us to observe were a few small fires, like match heads, burning behind us. These fires were caused by very small pieces of flaming material that had been blown over our heads while we were in the trenches.
Immediately after looking at the small fires behind us, I turned to look in the direction of the blast. Most of us have seen movies of nuclear explosions that show the fireball forming into the familiar mushroom cloud. Those movies are taken from a distance; we were so close that the cloud was as much above us as in front of us. At this time, as we turned and looked, the cloud was a boiling black & red mass moving higher into the sky.
We now started to assemble to begin our simulated assault on the positions to the northwest of the blast. While getting organized the wind shifted and blew the dust cloud from the explosion towards us. As we were engulfed by the cloud of dust, there was some confusion from the leaders as to how to proceed with the simulated assault. I speculate the confusion was over how to handle this unplanned wind-shift. The leaders were very busy checking their Geiger counters and comparing readings.
In a few minutes the dust cloud dissipated and we proceeded to move forward. We moved forward 3/4 of a mile and observed the in-ground bunker that the volunteer officers had been in. We continued to move forward and came to an area with two sheep pens. One pen had sandbags protecting it and the sheep inside looked entirely normal. The other pen was just a barbed-wire enclosure and offered no protection to the sheep. The sheep in the unprotected pen had their wool scorched brown on whatever side had been facing the explosion. All of the sheep were alive but we were told that they would all soon be dead due to the radiation they had received from the blast. Not long after we passed the sheep pens we were told we had gone forward far enough due radiation levels. We turned to our right and proceeded to an area where buildings had been destroyed and army vehicles had been somewhat damaged by the blast.
The remainder of the exercise consisted of marching out of the area before being bussed back to camp. My recollection is the whole exercise lasted about 3 hours. As we were being bussed out, the driver pointed out an area far behind our trenches where news media and VIP's had watched the test.
Upon my return to camp my radiation badge was collected. We turned in the fatigues that had been issued when we arrived and we showered. I returned to Camp Carson where I spent the remaining 3 1/2 months of my Army tour.
Richard Bosecker left the Army in 1953 and returned to the family farm located about 5 miles south of Vincennes, IN. He has now 68 years old and retired from farming. The interviews that were used to compose the "Recollections" section of this story took place in November of 1998.
BOSECKER COUSINS IN GERMANY?
As a result of his employment, Wilbur Bosecker, GG-Grandson of Karl Boßecker, has traveled extensively in Europe. While there he located some Bosecker names in the a phone book and as a result made contact with the Bernhard Bosecker family.
Although Bernhard Bosecker and his family now live in Potsdam, Germany, his family is originally from Veilsdorf. Bernhard has been a professional trumpet musician for 27 years. Ten years ago, Bernhard took on a project that Wilbur would like us to know about; the restoration of a church that was built almost 400 years ago.
Wilbur is trying to help Bernhard with his restoration project. If any of this newsletter's readers are interested in learning more about the project, please contact Wilbur Bosecker at 11450 Ann Mar Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044-2211; (314) 739-7581. Wilbur's e-mail address is Wlb11450@aol.com.
Here are more Boßecker descendant veterans that have been documented since the last issue.
James E. Rankin [1918-1998]
Richard J. Wolf [Born: 1925]
Gary R. Wolf [Born: 1949]
Joseph E. Mayer [Born: 1950]
Randall J. Wolf [Born: 1956]
Rachel Ann Witte, GGGG-Granddaughter of Johannes Boßecker, was born on 16 Sep 1998 in Edina, MN.
Genevieve Lee Weintzetl, GGGG-Granddaughter of Johannes Boßecker, was born on 1 Oct 1998 in Shakopee, MN.
Katherine Alanna Cheaney, GGGG-Granddaughter of Johannes Boßecker, was born on 22 Oct 1998 in Marshalltown, IA.
Aaron Christopher Combs, GGG-Grandson of Karl Boßecker, and Jenny C. Hughes were married on 17 Jan 1998.
Heidi Ann Dixon, GGGG-Granddaughter of Karl Boßecker, and Garry Bartle were married on 10 Jun 1998.
Andra Katherine Ardell Combs, GGG-Granddaughter of Karl Boßecker, and Bryce Battisti were married on 15 Aug 1998.
Phillip Paul Combs, GGG-Grandson of Karl Boßecker, and Jamie were married on 21 Aug 1998.
IN MEMORY OF...
Augusta (Roeder) Schmidt
Harold August Karl Kirsch
Adolf John William Kirsch
Helen (Tope) Combs
James E. Rankin
Stephen Patrick Hering
The last issue's centerfold has males in white rectangles and females in shaded rectangles. On page 3, I got this shading reversed for Hanna (Bosecker) Kleinschmidt [1891-1978] & Edwin G.P. Bosecker [1901-1976].
On page 1, Kinkos (the print shop I use) somehow put a "3" after "PUBLISHED BY: SCOTT BOSECKER". I'll have to attribute this to some sort of computer "bug" as it doesn't show up in my file when I view it on my computer.
This issue concludes the 3rd year of The Boßecker Newsletter. As in previous years, I will be compiling an index of Volume 3 and making it available for those readers that are interested. If any reader would like a copy of the index, please send me a note via the postal service or send me an e-mail. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .