Letter of Appreciation
First Lieutenant Nolan W. Bailey
17th Troop Carrier Squadron
APO Seattle 98742
2. This assignment required extremely long working hours under
difficult and adverse environmental conditions. Your diligent
and professional attention to duty contributed materially to the
overall success of Project LONG SHOT. Your efforts, together with
those of your co-workers, has enabled the Department of Defense
to substantially increase its effects knowledge as pertains to
seismic identification of underground nuclear detonations.
3. Please accept my sincere appreciation for a job "well
done." Your outstanding performance of duty reflects credit
upon yourself and the United States Air Force.
FOR THE COMMANDER
ROLLIN C. REINECK, Colonel, USAF
Deputy, Nuclear Field Operations
We arrived at Adak Naval Air Station after dark and in adverse
weather conditions. It was misting rain, and the wind was gusting
to over 60 knots on final approach. Gary Lattin (Aircraft Commander)
suggested that I fly the GCA while he looked for the runway.
With such gusting winds it was extremely difficult to hold the
glide slope. At around one mile and a half, the Navy controller
gave us a go around, but Gary now had the airport in visual contact
and took the controls to land the plane. After landing, we were
advised that the winds were forecast to be over 80 knots later
in the night. The C-130 was chained down, and sand bags placed
on the wings to destroy any lift potential.
Upon reaching the housing office and waiting for an inordinate
amout of time, we were tikd that the only quarters available were
older open bay barracks. Around 9:00 p.m., or a little later,
we arrived at the assigned barracks and were preparing to "hit
the sack" when the crew from a Greek freighter appeared in
the barracks. They had just been rescued from their sinking ship.
Around 11:00 p.m., the Greeks were still yelling and making noise
to the point that we were unable to sleep. At this time, Gary
Lattin called the director of the project and advised him that
if we weren't given quarters that would allow us to sleep, that
we would be forced to declare inadequate crew rest. This would
keep Project Long Shot from being accomplished the next day.
Shortly thereafter, the crew was moved to the Visiting Officers
Quarters. The crew was placed in the visiting Admiral's quarters.
Fantastic! We had a television set, "swanky" beds,
carpet "two inches" thick, and a fully stocked wet bar
(of course we didn't indulge since we didn't have the required
eight hours before takeoff).
Early the next morning, we attended extensive briefings on Project Long Shot and the procedures to be followed. We were advised that even though extensive seismic studies had been done on Amchitka Island, there was a possibility that an undiscovered fault (remember this is Alaska which has earthquakes) might leak radioactive material. We were told that if a leak should occur, that we (the C-130 crew) were expected to fly all site personnel to a nearby base for decontamination. Needless to say, this was a real confidence builder. The C-130 was to be in place with engines running and the ramp down...prepared to depart immediately in case of emergency.
On the day of the underground detonation, we left Adak, the staging base, and flew down the Aleutian chain to Amchitka Island. Prior to this time, Amchitka was known mostly for being the home of the protected Sea Otter. On approach to the island, we discovered that the radio beacon was being jammed by an unknown source. The ADF needle was oscillating approximately 30-45 degrees left and right. The controller asked us to fly theapproach as if the radio aid was not being affected. A few miles out from landing, we were given coordinates for an island and asked to fly around behind it to check for anything out of the ordinary. We dropped down to low level and visited the "blind" side of the designated island and found a Russian trawler dead in the water with no sign of life. After making a 360 degree turn, we flew back over the ship and observed crew members on deck, seagulls flying everywhere, and smoke pouring from the stacks. Interestingly enough, the Russians were not the only visitors near the island. Many of our allies were also spying on the test...Japan, Britain, etc.
As the zero hour approached, we started our engines, lowered the
ramp, sent the loadmaster out behind the plane to observe the
site, as we monitored the countdown over the radio. At the moment
the nuclear device was detonated, we heard a mild expletive uttered
by the loadmaster. He nervously told us that he had observed
a mushroom cloud over the site. For a few minutes the flight
deck was absolutely silent...then we heard over the radio that
no radiation leak had occurred. None of the crew realized that
huge explosions often create a mushroom cloud of dust.