Taylor Atomic Veterans

Atomic Veterans are veterans of the United States Armed Forces who participated in atmospheric and underwater nuclear weapons tests from 16 July 1945 to 30 October 1962. They also include veterans who were assigned to post test duties, such as “ground zero” nuclear warfare maneuvers and exercises, removing radiation cloud samples from aircraft wing pods, working in close proximity to radiated test animals, de-contamination of aircraft and field test equipment, retrieval and transport of test instruments and devices, and a host of other duty assignments that provided an opportunity for a radiation exposure and contamination event. Many Taylor Sailors are Atomic Veterans. For more information: (NAAV) National Association of Atomic Veterans.

DeWitt C. Johnson ETR 2, ‘62–’65

I was aboard USS Taylor (DD 468) on 9 July 1962. It was a night that I will never forget. After several aborted attempts, the rocket was again scheduled to take off. Of course we all wanted it to be successful, because then we could return to our homeport of Pearl Harbor. It was a typical calm and very clear night. Anyone who was not on watch was allowed to watch it, but we had to follow some instructions. Read More.

Dale Lorey

Dale Lorey takes medication every day to control a blood condition similar to leukemia. Lorey may have suspicions about whether those facts are related, but that doesn’t affect his pride in having served in the Navy from 1960 to 1964. “I like to say I was a guinea pig for the last nuclear blast the U.S. ever set off in the biosphere, at Johnston Island in the South Pacific,” he said. “They blew it up to build another one. That’s how I see it.” Read More.

Robert Schultz

I was XO of Taylor from 1 August 1962 to 14 July 1963, and kept a daily diary covering that period. Taylor was sent to Seattle for Sonar Calibration and ASW weapons tests, including firing our Weapon Alpha (MK 108) ASW Rocket launcher at nearby Dabob Bay. We left Pearl on 25 August 1962, and were supposed to arrive at Pier 91 in Seattle at 1200 on Friday, 31 August 1962. Read More.

Josh Garner

I have read enough of the stories of other Atomic Veterans to know what they mean when they are trying to deal with the Veterans Administration concerning the exposure to nuclear radiation. I was onboard the USS Taylor (DD 468) and at first I was given an exposure rating of 3.0 Rems (one of the highest given during the detonation I witnessed). Read More.

Tom Madison

I was informed by the Atomic Energy commission that I was exposed to radiation during the test. I have since had surgery for colon cancer. I was very lucky and the cancer was caught in the early stages. I filed for service related benefits thinking that I surely was eligible since the government said I was exposed to radiation from information they obtained by reading the badges we wore around our necks during the test periods. Read More.

Gary Smith

Gary Smith of Lebanon, OR was in the Navy in 1962, serving on the USS Taylor when the United States began testing nuclear weapons on Christmas Island. He remembers looking up after the blast and being “awestruck, really, by the power, the enormity of the situation.” But in the decades to come, he couldn’t get answers about exactly what had happened on the island, and what he might have been exposed to. Read More.


As a matter of privacy I do not wish for my name or email address to be disclosed other than for your information and my participation in the nuclear detonation of the atmospheric shot over Johnston Island on 9 July 1962. I have read enough of the stories of other Atomic Veterans to know what they mean when they are trying to deal with the Veterans Administration concerning the exposure to nuclear radiation. Read More.

Larry Shambaugh

I have been trying to do some research on the USS Taylor’s involvement in Dominic I. I have copies of the Deck Log that records the Starfish Prime Shot at 2300hr on 8 July. I also have the Deck Logs during Blue Gill Prime on 25 July. No mention of Blue Gill Prime which was blown up on the Launch Pad. Read More.