The forgotten American victims of the first atomic bomb blast……by Samuel Gilbert


(Listening to downwinders’ stories at a forum organized by the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium…photo, courtesy of Tina Cordova and Sen. Tom Udall)

by Samuel Gilbert, VICE Media LLC — July 24, 2016


July 16, 1945:

At 5:30 in the morning in the mountains of south central New Mexico, something shook Barbara Kent out of her top bunk bed.  The 12-year-old girl crashed down on the floor of the Ruidoso, New Mexico cabin where she was attending summer camp.

“It was the biggest jolt you could imagine,” says Kent, recalling to VICE the moment — 71 years ago this past Saturday — that the first atomic bomb was detonated in the nearby White Sands desert.

“We were all sitting there on the floor wondering what [was] happening.”
Kent was one of 12 girls that had arrived days before to attend summer camp organized by their dance teacher Karma Deane.  “[Ms. Deane] thought the water heater had exploded so we rushed outside.  It was just after 5:30 and it should have been dark—but it was like the sun had been turned on,” says Kent, describing the light, brighter than a dozen suns, produced by the first successful test of a nuclear weapon.


Later that afternoon, the campers were inside the cabin when they noticed a delicate white powder falling outside the windows.  “It was snowing in July,” Kent remembers from her home in California.  There was excitement and confusion as the girls ran outside to play in the unexplainable weather.  “We were catching it on our tongues like snowflakes.  Scooping the ash and putting it all over our faces.”

71 years later, Kent — now 84 years old — has suffered multiple bouts of cancer and is the sole remaining survivor of the camp (10 of the 12 of died before they turned 40).

“This is no coincidence,” she says.  Like many other Trinity Downwinders, Kent blames her health problems on the government, which did nothing to warn residents of the danger of the radiation exposure caused by Trinity.  “It was so wrong of the government not to evacuate everyone when they knew this was going to happen. They never told us so we played in the thing that killed us.”

For many years, the cries for help of New Mexico Downwinders have gone unheard, while the impacts of the radiation on these communities are still largely unknown due to a lack of data or studies on the fallout.

According to a study on radiation releases since 1943 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment (LAHDRA), “Too much remains undetermined about the exposures from the Trinity test to put the event in perspective as a source of public radiation expose or to defensibly address the extent to which people were harmed.”  While conducting the study, the CDC and LAHDRA were given unprecedented access to previously classified and internal documents at Los Alamos National Labs.

“We were unknowing, unwilling, and uncompensated participants in the world’s largest lab test,” says Tina Cordova, founder of the Tularosa Downwinders, a consortium which has been fighting for both recognition and compensation for the dowinders in the Tularosa basin of New Mexico.

This year, the Downwinders began collecting health surveys (400 so far) on rates of cancer and other other diseases that plague Tularosa Basin communities.  “The effects to us are clear,” she says, pointing out that everyone in her community has lost someone to diseases linked to radiation exposure.

According to health physicist Joseph Shonka, the impacts described by Cordova are likely in areas near the blast.  “Trinity created more fallout than at other nuclear tests,” says Shonka, who headed up the aforementioned CDC LADHA study.  “At the Nevada site the closest people were 150 miles away.  Here you have people 15 miles away. There is no question the exposures were higher than in Nevada and Utah.”

“The people who lived in downwind of the Trinity blast were exposed to clouds of radiation that blew from the explosion,” New Mexico Senator Tom Udall states in an email; Udall is a longtime supporter of the New Mexico Downwinders.  “Radioactive debris fell from the sky, killing cattle and poisoning food and water, and generations of residents have suffered from cancer and other illnesses.”

“From the beginning, the government has refused to take responsibility,” he continues.  “We can’t undo the years of suffering, but we should make sure the victims receive similar recognition and compensation that other residents have received,” Udall’s referring to the compensation given to those effected by the Nevada Test site through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) and denied to New Mexico Downwinders.

This past Saturday in Tularosa, community members fanned out behind the dugout of the local high-school base ball field to take part in the 7th annual Vigil commemorating the anniversary of the Trinity test.  “This year, we have 700 Luminarias,” says Tina, motioning towards the small paper lanterns that dot the outfield—each light representing a Tularosa resident that has been lost to cancer.

“We have all been affected,” says Henry Herrera, sitting with his wife Gloria along the first base line, their chairs pointed toward center field and the direction of the blast he himself witnessed at age 11.  “I remember I was helping my dad pore water in the radiator, holding the funnel.  Just as we got done with it there was was a hell of a blast and the cloud went up.”  The radioactive plume rose over 38,000 feet in just minutes.

Herrera’s father thought it was an explosion from the nearby white sands missile range; he himself recalls being mesmerized by the massive mushroom cloud.  “I watched it outside for hours. It rose up and up to the east.  The bottom half kept on going but the top half pushed back and landed right here.”  When he saw the dust from the cloud approach the house, he ran inside to tell his mom.  “I very well remember because my mom was so angry.  She had just hung up our clothes on the line—you can imagine what they looked like.”

“People around here were dying right and left,” says Herrera, who has since lost countless friends and family to cancer, himself a survivor.  “Nobody knew what was going on, they just died.”

The fallout around Trinity was, according to Shonka, potentially far worse then even Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  “The cap is the nuclear bomb, and the stem is all the dirt that was swept up into it,” he explains, describing the iconic mushroom shape produced by a ground blast like the one at Trinity.  “The bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki were detonated at 1900 and 1650 feet.  Their stems never touched their caps, so there was never much fallout.
When you have a ground level blast like Trinity a large amount of dirt is sucked into the cloud and mixed with radioactive material.  The temperatures are so hot that everything melts.  As the cloud cools off, different things condense out at different temperatures. As they solidify again, they fall out.”

When asked about the incidences of cancer and other deceases related to radioactive expose, Shonka said, “If you ask me if there is high likelihood that there are health related issues from Trinity, I can say yes.  As for why the Nevada Test downwinders have been given compensation and New Mexico hasn’t — that’s a question with a political answer.”

“If we were compensated, then the government would be admitting guilt” Gloria Herrera claims.  “The would be admitting the fact that they bombed us first.”  Her husband elaborates, “We are small. We are poor. We have no political power.”

For years, the voices of Trinity Downwinders were absent from political dialogue, newspaper coverage, or even public awareness.  Archival research done by VICE at the Center for Southwest Research at the University of New Mexico, found numerous clipping from local papers, stretching back to the 50s, reflecting on the legacy of the Trinity Test.  Yet until recently, there was no mention of the first victims of the Atomic Age.

This has begun to change.

In 2015 — some 70 years after the Trinity test — the National Cancer Institute began the first-ever official health study to quantitatively estimate the number of cancer cases in New Mexico (past and future) that may be related to the nuclear test.  That same year, Senator Udall took the senate floor and made an impassioned speech in support of the amendments to add New Mexico Downwinders to the government’s Radiation Exposure Compensation Program (RECA).

Support has grown: Both US Senators and all 3 US house members from New Mexico are co-sponsors to the RECA amendments.  But the measure has failed to advance in Congress for several years.
“Many people here have little faith in the federal government,” says Tina, noting the trepidation of NM Downwinders towards both the federally funded health study and the will of congress to included their claims.

“Many think we are just looking for compensation,” says Cordova, “Which we deserve.  “But even more than anything we want the government to acknowledge what they did. We were the first sacrifice of the atomic age. That needs to recognized and corrected.”




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Dulce, New Mexico is not about aliens – – it’s about humans and a lingering problem that has been kept from the public


(Above – – explosion from Project Gasbuggy, conducted on December 10, 1967, 22 miles from Dulce)

(Project Gasbuggy, conducted on December 10, 1967, 22 miles from Dulce)

Underground nuclear explosion near Dulce, New Mexico in 1967:

Although this 1967 experiment was intended to ease the flow of natural gas in the surrounding areas, the after-effect of this test was not all positive:
Radiation slowly began to leak in the surrounding areas.

Dulce, New Mexico is not about aliens.
It is about humans and the lingering health problems that have been kept from the public.

There is no credible evidence whatsoever of the existence of a physical Dulce underground base in New Mexico.

(Moreover, as far as UFOs are concerned, it is my personal belief that while the UFO phenomenon itself may be real and is still unsolved, it does not seem to represent any conclusive evidence of any physical extraterrestrial visitations to our Earth, so far.)

No, Dulce is not about aliens.

It’s about a lingering human problem that has been hidden from the public unintentionally.
Hidden behind the veil of outlandish rumors about the so-called “alien” base, the reality of the matter is that Dulce is pre-eminently about the lingering health issues affecting the community, i.e., the ongoing effects of radiation that leaked out in the neighboring areas from the 1967 Project Gasbuggy that took place just about 22 miles southwest of Dulce.
This is the reason why the Dulce area has had a high rate of cancer and a high rate of infertility.
That is basically what Dulce, New Mexico is about, not about aliens.

Is it also likely that the government conducted tests on radiation by selectively choosing particular cows in the Dulce area, beginning in the mid 1970s?
Did this type of research involve analyses of certain organs and tissues and did it also involve clandestine operations utilizing unmarked helicopters?

We just don’t know.

There is no conclusive evidence for it.

But the health-related issue must come out in the open.

Here is a powerful testimony from a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation:

(name withheld):

I am a member of The Jicarilla Apache Nation.
My father passed from a brain tumor in 06.
My Mother was just diagnosed on 1-13-17 with a brain tumor.
I honestly believe there are no coincidences here.
The radiation lingering effects are making my people sick with cancer.
I myself can’t have any children.
Please help.
I have contacted several attorney’s who are Native American and specialize in Federal Indian Law.
No replies yet.”

Here is another testimony:

“I also grew up in Dulce.  Lived there for 33 years.  I was recently diagnosed with CLE Lupus and a small frontal lobe brain tumor.  Ironically, two of my neighbors were also recently diagnosed with lupus.  Two other close close neighbors have also been diagnosed with cancer.” – – Melody Gomez

Although not directly related to Project Gasbuggy, here is a significant report about Native Americans still suffering from after-effects of radiation:


– – – –


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Also watch Norio Hayakawa’s YouTube Channel

Nick Redfern’s excellent advice…..”don’t let UFOs rule your life”


by Nick Redfern, MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE – – July 8, 2016

Nick Refern, in my opinion, is one of the most prolific, highly respected authorities on the FORTEANA topic today. He definitely is the “John A. Keel” of contemporary Ufology and related topics.


“Time and again I tell people that if you’re interested in UFOs, don’t let the subject rule and dictate your life.

The same goes for every other aspect of Forteana, too, whether it’s Bigfoot, ghost-hunting, lake-monsters, etc, etc.

I don’t know why I bother though.

They seldom listen.

But, they should.

As someone who has been in the UFO subject for more than a few years, I have seen plenty of what I call ufological screw-ups of the personal kind.

By that, I mean people who – step by step and bit by bit – go down a pathway that ultimately takes them far away from reality and into a world of downright unreality.

And that realm of unreality is rarely, if ever, a positive one.

The tragic thing, however, is that I have met a significant number of people in Forteana for whom the concept of a social life is as alien as…an alien.

I specifically don’t say that as a criticism.

Rather, I say it as nothing less than a dark and dire warning – and particularly so to those who are new to the subject.

Have you ever seen someone who enters the field of Ufology, and who gradually (or sometimes quickly) gets “taken over” and dragged down by the subject?

I have.

It’s not a pretty sight.

Hence the subject and the warning aspect of this article.



To me, a good example of what Refern is referring to, (i.e., folks suffering from delusion, a form of mental illness), is exemplified by one such individual:



There are tens of thousands of folks who have to rely on Social Security Supplementary Security Income (SSI), for various legitimate reasons, including those with mental illnesses or those who have become mentally ill.

It’s a sad situation. But it’s the reality.

Phil Schneider was one of them.


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Ben Rich misquoted by many in the UFO community


Ben Rich (June 18, 1925 – January 5, 1995) was the second Director of Lockheed’s Skunk Works from 1975 to 1991, succeeding its founder, Kelly Johnson. Regarded as the “father of stealth” Rich was responsible for leading the development of the F-117, the first production stealth aircraft. He also worked on the F-104, U-2, A-12, SR-71, and F-22, among others. He is the author of Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed.

False, unsubstantiated rumors abound when it comes to misquotes cited by many gullible UFO researchers.

Many in the UFO community seem to believe that Ben Rich, stated during a 1993, Alumni Speech at UCLA:

“We already have the means to travel among the stars, but these technologies are locked up in black projects and it would take an Act of God to ever get them out to benefit humanity…Anything you can imagine, we already know how to do.”

This is far from the truth.

Ben Rich never said such a thing seriously.

from SHADOWHAWK (Peter Merlin)- – August 27, 2013:

Peter Merlin, in my opinion, is one of the most knowledgeable and respected military aviation historians at the present time. I had the honor of meeting him in 2005 at the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Area 51 which was held at the perimeters.


Ben Rich is constantly misquoted as saying “We now have the technology to take E.T home.” That is not what he said.

At the end of his presentation he showed his final slide, a picture of a disk-shaped craft – the classic “flying saucer” – flying into a partly cloudy sky with a burst of sunlight in the background and he gave his standard tagline.

It was a joke he had used in numerous presentations since 1983 when Steven Spielberg’s “E.T. the Extraterrestrial,” a film about a young boy befriending a lost visitor from space and helping the alien get home, had become the highest-grossing film of all-time. Rich apparently decided to capitalize on this popularity. By the summer of 1983, he had added the flying saucer picture to the end of a set of between 12 and 25 slides that he showed with his lecture on the history of Lockheed’s famed Skunk Works division.

Rich had long used a standard script for his talks, tailoring the content as necessary to accommodate his audience. Since most Skunk Works current projects were classified, it didn’t matter whether he was addressing schoolchildren or professional aeronautical engineers; he always ended the same way.

At a Defense Week symposium on future space systems in Washington, D.C., on September 20, 1983, he said, “Unfortunately, I cannot tell you what we have been doing for the last 10 years. It seems we score a breakthrough at the Skunk Works every decade, so if you invite me back in 10 years I’ll be able to tell you what we are doing [now]. I can tell you about a contract we recently received. The Skunk Works has been assigned the task of getting E.T. back home.” The audience laughed, as it was meant to do.

If something is successful, it is worth repeating. Rich gave an identical speech at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on September 6, 1984, and continued using his script during successive appearances. Sometimes he refined the details a bit. “I wish I could tell you what else we are doing in the Skunk Works,” he said, wrapping up a presentation for the Beverly Hills chapter of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution on May 23, 1990. “You’ll have to ask me back in a few years. I will conclude by telling you that last week we received a contract to take E.T. back home.”

Three years later he was still using the same line and the same slide. “We did the F-104, C-130, U-2, SR-71, F-117 and many other programs that I can’t talk about,” he proclaimed during a 1993 speech at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, home of Air Force Materiel Command, the organization responsible for all flight-testing within the Air Force. “We are still working very hard, I just can’t tell you what we are doing.” As usual, he added his by now infamous punchline, “The Air Force has just given us a contract to take E.T. back home.”

Within the UFO community, Rich’s words, and additional statements attributed to him without corroborative proof, have become gospel. He is named as having admitted that extraterrestrial UFO visitors are real and that the U.S. military has interstellar capabilities, and although nearly two full years passed between Rich’s UCLA speech and his death in 1995, some believers have touted his comments as a “deathbed confession.” It was nothing of the kind.

Rich, a brilliant scientist, apparently believed in the existence of other intelligent life in the universe, though only as something distant and mysterious. In July 1986, after Testor Corporation model-kit designer John Andrews wrote asking what he thought about the possible existence of either manmade or extraterrestrial UFOs, Rich responded, “I’m a believer in both categories. I feel everything is possible.” He cautioned, however, that, “In both categories, there are a lot of kooks and charlatans – be cautious.”

There was no “deathbed” confession. His comments, many of which have been misquoted, were taken from presentations he gave long before his death. Ben Rich gave his speeches using a standard script. The content varied a bit over the years; he added new material whenever something was declassified, but from 1983 on he always ended with his joke, “We just got a contract to take E.T. back home.”

No matter how many years had passed since the last time he said it, it was always “we just got a contract” of “a few weeks ago we received a contract.” That was part of the gag, making it sound like a current Skunk Works project. Rich kept copies of his scripts, which he reused according to the needs of his audience, along with photocopies of all of his slides (including the “flying saucer”), so these details are easy to verify.

Jan Harzan, now executive director of Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), attended the March 1993 lecture at the University of California, Los Angeles, with fellow UCLA engineering alumnus and UFO enthusiast Tom Keller. Keller, an aerospace engineer who has worked as a computer systems analyst for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, wrote about it in the May 2010 issue of “MUFON UFO Journal” and Harzan recently shared his story in a January 2012 interview with Web Talk Radio Network, and another with Alejando Rojas of Open Minds UFO News and Investigations in July 2013.

Harzan says that after the lecture ended a few people remained behind to ask questions. Some wanted to know more about the technology to “take E.T. home.” Harzan says Rich initially brushed off these queries but allegedly told one engineer, “We now know how to travel to the stars. We found an error in the equations and it won’t take a lifetime to do it.” I have also heard Rich’s statement quoted as, “First, you have to understand that we will not get to the stars using chemical propulsion. Second, we have to devise a new propulsion technology. What we have to do is find out where Einstein went wrong.”

Unfortunately, neither quote is verifiable but the second one sounds more like the words of an engineer, especially one with Rich’s stated views as outlined in his letter to John Andrews.

As things began to wind down after the UCLA speech, Rich said, “I’ve got to go now,” and started to walk out of the room. Harzan pursued him, and continued to ask him about the workings of interstellar propulsion systems. it was an unanswerable question in light of our current scientific knowledge.

Rich finally stopped and turned, then asked Harzan an unanswerable question of his own, “Well, let me ask you; how does ESP work?” Stunned, Harzan stammered, “I don’t know. All points in space and time are connected?” Rich responded, “That’s how it works,” then abruptly turned and walked away.

From the tone of the exchange it sounds more like Rich, having been kept well past his planned departure time and tired of being pestered, was simply anxious to leave and not that he was sharing some great technological secret.

Harzan and others have interpreted Rich’s final comments as a tacit admission that interstellar propulsion technology exists, that it is in the hands of U.S. scientists, and that it involves a specific set of known equations. But, taken in context, it sounds more like Rich carried his joke too far and talked himself into a corner. It is likely that he would have said, “That’s how it works,” no matter what Harzan’s answer to the E.S.P. question. Even if Rich had said, “Look, I was just kidding,” it would have done no good. The damage was done.

In 1994, a year after the UCLA lecture, rich told Popular Science magazine, “We have some new things [at the Skunk Works]. We are not stagnating. What we are doing is updating ourselves, without advertising. There are some new programs, and there are certain things, some of them 20 or 30 years old, that are still breakthroughs and appropriate to keep quiet about [because] other people don’t have them yet.”

He didn’t disclose, or even hint at, any advanced interstellar propulsion technologies because there was nothing to disclose.



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Unreliable “claims” of self-claimed government UFO whistleblowers

There are so many characters in the field of Ufology who claim to be government UFO “whistleblowers“, it’s becoming almost ridiculous.   They are a dime a dozen.  The vast majority of those, if not all, are nothing but “self-claimed” whistleblowers.  Sure, some of them may have worked for the government but not in the capacity related to their self-claimed position.  They are totally unreliable and their grandiose claims are totally unreliable.   Some of those self-claimed government “whistleblowers” have actually even caused irreparable mental damage to their gullible “victims”.


There are also those who claim unveriafiable, sensational claims even upon their deathbed.

Here is one example, Boyd Bushman:




by Stuart J. Robbins, for SWIFT – – October 28, 2014:


A deathbed confession can be a way to solidify one’s reputation.
The thinking could easily be, “People really believe that people are 100% honest on their deathbed, so I’m going to make sure I go out with a ‘bang’ and make my claims yet again.  People who didn’t believe me before might this time because they’ll think I’m telling the truth ’cause I’m about to die.”

However, in addition to explaining why the common reasons to believe deathbed confession testimony are unconvincing, there’s a better reason why the testimony is not useful:  They’re doing it wrong.

Let’s say I had a bunch of secrets of exotic physics and decided to do a deathbed confession.  Here’s what I would say:  “I’ve been working on antigravity and warp field physics for the last 50 years, in secret, with the US government.”  Then, instead of showing photos of a spaceship or a blurry alien, I would add:  “And, here are the equations.  Here is a diagram for how you build a device.  Here is a working model.  Here is exactly how you put everything together.”

In other words, it shouldn’t matter who I am, what my experience is, or what pretty (or ugly) picture I show.  What I need to show is HOW to do it.  Just saying something doesn’t make it so.  I need to give enough information for someone else to verify it and duplicate it.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  To make a spectacle before I die?

That’s why I find this whole deathbed confession thing unconvincing and, perhaps more importantly, not useful:  We have no more information than we had before.  We have no way to verify any of the information claimed.  No way to test or duplicate it.

At best, we have another person claiming this stuff is real, and while he or she may be proven out with the passage of time, their “confession” contributed absolutely nothing to that advancement.

Until then, it’s no better than any other pseudoscientific claim.


By the way, there are quite a number of gullible UFO researchers who have easily been taken in by such claimants.

Here is another example of unconvincing deathbed confession, this time by a self-claimed former CIA Agent, courtesy of X Unknown & Richard Dolan:

Many folks ask me, “so, who do you trust in Ufology?”

I, for one, have a high respect and trust for Dr. Jacques Vallee.

I also like the logical arguments presented by John B. Alexander who has stated many times that there is no intentional UFO cover-up by the government.  On this I agree with him totally.

My other heroes were the late Dr. J. Allen Hynek and the late John A. Keel.


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