Set Up Us The Bomb


This is a photo collage I put together with a photo of my dad working in a quonset hut on the Pacific island of Elugelab in the Enewetak atoll in October 1952 while working on the first hydrogen bomb detonated on Elugelab island on November 1, 1952. The foreground is a reflection of me in a nickel plated revolver with an apparition of the revolver surrounding my face.  My dad also worked on Operation Teapot and Operation Redwing, both hydrogen bomb tests in Nevada, in 1955 and 1956. In both of those hydrogen bomb tests he was caught in the fallout from the explosions and was radioactive for quite some time after each of the blasts. I was born in 1958, and I have often wondered how much my cancer might have been influenced by my dad’s exposure to radiation from those tests.

The title of the post is a part of a quote from the 1991 arcade game “Zero Wing”. You can learn more about the game and later video from my post “Somebody Set Up Us The Bomb” from January 21, 2014.


30 thoughts on “Set Up Us The Bomb

  1. Oh wow you know I love this! This is my favorite thing to do layers and transparency! It looks like a dream or memory! So beautiful my friend! What a story and history! I think it is so important to tell it! 😄😄

  2. Matt, my son and I, were just talking about this earlier today. Synchronistic.
    Matt would like to visit a non-radio active Marshall Island as a grad schl graduation gift, so we got talking about the bomb tests in the pacific, which he knows more about from a biology perspective than I do, and then i told him about the ones in the us, where people sat in bleachers and mock towns were constructed, and “nucleared.’ Observers wore sunglasses to protect themselves from the nuclear shine and winds.
    People are probably not going to believe this.
    Truth is always stranger than fiction.
    There are super 8 movies to prove it btb.
    Your post sparked a “reaction” in me. 😉
    Thank you~

    • The quonset hut in the photo evaporated along with the Elugelab island in the first test. My dad said they underestimated the power of the explosion in every test he worked on and that’s how they got caught in fallout more than once.

      There’s a movie of the detonation at Enewetak, and if you look up Weird Al Yankovic’s “Christmas at Ground Zero” he includes clips from some of the super 8 movies you mention, training films and actual footage of explosions to a nice a cheery Christmas jingle that only Weird Al can pull off.

  3. Good question, Timothy. I remember hearing indirectly about someone, if I have the story correct, whose health was being followed by some agency because of radiation exposure to a parent during the testing. Hope all is well and you are still in remission.

  4. Tim, I saw and read this last night, and I wanted to think on it a bit before responding. As noted by others, a very thought-provoking post.
    My father was an observer at some of those detonations, and there is no doubt in my mind (no way to prove it, of course) that his cancer was the result of that. He already had had us, so no offspring to consider after that.
    Last week a lot of news agencies picked up an article from a November issue of the journal Science, in which the authors state it is their belief that 2/3’s of cancers are “bad luck;” random mutations for the people who get them. As you know, this is an area that really interests me at the moment.
    I think the question of “second generation” effects is fascinating (scary also!), and any research in that area should be pretty interesting.
    Thanks again for a thought provoking post.

    • Thanks, Susan! I think it is so hard to say what causes various cancers. I have read about archaeological finds where skeletal remains showed evidence of cancers and other maladies that we often think of more as modern day illnesses. I’ve also read about how it seems to be luck of the draw of what might activate cancer cells, so in many ways it may simply be that fact that we generally live longer and the various stresses of modern life make it easier to trigger cancer. But I after may dad was exposed to radiation more than once during those tests, I still have to wonder.

  5. WOW! Amazing story. To be a part of such intense American History. There should be a night with you where people come to listen to you talk about your family story. Great job on the photo. Really cool.

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