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Interview with Robert William Mackenzie, January 1, 2005


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Narrator affiliation: Atomic Veteran, Pacific Proving Ground; Curtiss Atomic Marines

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Mackenzie, Robert William. Interview, 2005 January 05. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with Robert Mackenzie with Kari Chipman January 5, 2005 Moorpark, California Interview Conducted By Mary Palevsky © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Robert Mackenzie with Kari Chipman January 5, 2005 Conducted by Mary Palevsky Table of Contents Mr. Mackenzie shares details from his family history and his enlistment in the United States Marine Corps. 1 Upon completion of basic training, Mr. Mackenzie was assigned to an elite platoon. He eventually realized that this additional training was part of the screening process for Marines assigned to a top secret mission aboard the USS Curtiss. 6 In 1954, the Curtiss set sail on a mission to transport nuclear weapons components to the Pacific testing grounds. Mr. Mackenzie served as the admiral’s orderly, a prestigious assignment that brought him in close contact with high- ranking Navy officers. 11 Mr. Mackenzie recalls a tense incident in which the admiral of the Curtiss learned that the ship was being shadowed by a Soviet submarine. 12 The extremely tight security measures prompted the crew to realize that their mission was more sensitive than they had previously assumed. 19 Mr. Mackenzie discusses how secrecy regulations and the fear of espionage affected the atmosphere aboard the ship. He also recalls an incident in which he and other Marines signed mysterious legal documents in order to obtain security clearances. 26 In an effort to bolster the crew’s flagging morale, Mr. Mackenzie was ordered to draw humorous cartoons. The jokes often got him in trouble, but Mr. Mackenzie was eventually praised by an admiral for helping to bring much- needed amusement to the crew. 29 Mr. Mackenzie describes his experiences during the Bravo test in the Pacific. 36 Despite the high risk of radiation exposure, the Marines on the Curtiss received virtually no training or instruction regarding radiological safety. While most Marines cared little about the risks at the time, they and their families are now beginning to suffer the effects of radiation exposure. 38 Mr. Mackenzie recalls witnessing the Bravo test. The shot’s yield was far greater than anyone anticipated, and those near the test site were exposed to dangerous amounts of radioactive fallout. 41 Marines aboard the Curtiss were armed and ordered to prevent anyone from going on the ship’s contaminated deck. Mr. Mackenzie was caught on deck and was exposed to the fallout. 45 Mr. Mackenzie recalls an incident in which military officers allegedly falsified records in order to deny the Marines’ exposure to radiation. 49 Unlike combat veterans who have received Purple Hearts, soldiers who suffer health problems caused by radiation exposure are often ineligible for medical benefits from 53 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 the Veterans’ Administration. Decades after their experiences aboard the Curtiss, many members of the crew began to meet at annual reunions. The prevalence of health problems among the crew suggested that they were exposed to harmful radiation. 55 Mr. Mackenzie continues to discuss Bravo. His daughter, Kari Chipman, joins the conversation. 59 The urgency of the Cold War and the secretive nature of the nuclear program allowed some officials to exercise special powers. Mr. Mackenzie shares several stories regarding the special status accorded to some in the test program. 64 The physical and emotional effects of his experiences continue to affect Mr. Mackenzie today. By using the Internet, he has been able to communicate with other former Curtiss crew members and participate in the atomic veterans’ movement. 69 Mr. Mackenzie and Kari Chipman have been active in arranging Curtiss reunions and publishing the Curtiss Atomic Marines Newsletter. 80 Mr. Mackenzie recalls visiting the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History with a group of atomic veterans. Despite their status and security clearances, they were still given the standard interpretation that denied many of the risks faced by the crew of the Curtiss. 90 The Veterans’ Administration has dealt poorly with atomic veterans, prompting many to lobby for Purple Heart status for those who were exposed to radiation from nuclear tests. 96 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Robert Mackenzie with Kari Chipman January 5, 2005 in Moorpark, CA Conducted by Mary Palevsky [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Mary Palevsky: OK, so why don’t you start by giving me your full name, place of birth, date of birth, and a little bit of family history that will help me understand how you ended up being in the military and then on the [ USS] Curtiss that went out to the Pacific. Robert Mackenzie: Right. Good. My name is Robert W. Mackenzie, originally from Glendale, California, born January 13, 1933. Real soon I’m going to be seventy- two, - three, something like that. But my family— originally we were living here in California— and we moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1936 because my father had health problems. He was in World War I, Mary, and got gassed and shelled in World War I. He was in the Lost Battalion. He couldn’t get insurance, so in those days they’d send you to the desert and to try to clear up your lungs. And so we moved to Las Vegas in 1936. The population was six thousand people. And no, I didn’t buy any real estate, so anyway. But so, we ended up in Las Vegas. And then in 1950 we were all getting out of high school, the Korean War was red- hot, and so we all joined the service. I went in a little bit later. And I came to California, and I worked down here for about a year or so, and then I went into the Marine Corps. And I just seemed to do very well in the Marine Corps. I don’t know why. I think probably because my brother was in the Marine Corps, and he just told me one simple thing, If they tell you something, do it. And that was about my whole [ thing]— and he says, And do it right away. And I just remembered that. But my sense of humor helped because it struck me funny. The DIs [ drill instructors] would just rrrrh, rrrrh, rrrrh, rrrh in everybody’s UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 face and I’d get in trouble because I’d be laughing. And they’d say, You think something’s funny, Mackenzie? And my biggest problem was not laughing about all this stuff. But anyway, when I first got there in the MCRD [ Marine Corps Recruit Depot], San Diego [ California], they asked if anybody had had any previous military experience— and there was a couple of ex- Army guys, Air Force guys— and I said I was in the ROTC [ Reserve Officer Training Corps] at Las Vegas High School, which is still there. And so they made me a squad leader, and that was in boot camp. And I did really well in boot camp. And then the rifle range, on pre- qualification day I broke the range record. And in the Marine Corps, that’s everything. Oh! Right away you’re the Marine Corps’s buddy because you’re going to make him look good, make your platoon look good. Then at qualification day, I came in second. But still, I think that might’ve helped. I don’t know. From there, I went to [ Camp] Pendleton [ California] and they made me a fire team leader, and that’s in charge of four or five guys. And then we were all going to Korea, and I got my, what do you call them, transfer orders and I didn’t understand them. I went to the sergeant and I said, What does this mean? I don’t understand. My orders are different than everybody else’s. And he says, You must have a lot of pull or something. And I said, I don’t have any pull. And he said, Well, you’re going back to MCRD and you’re going to Sea School. Which was an honor in the Marine Corps, to go to Sea School, because— and Sea School, later you would go on embassy duty— “ Sea School.” S- E- A, like sea? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 Yes, like “ sea.” Yes, Sea School. And that was the oldest school in the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps really started as seagoing marines. That’s where it all started, and so a lot of tradition. Most guys said, Well, I don’t want to go to Sea School. You just spend all day long shining your shoes and polishing your brass and all that. It’s a very spit- and- polish thing. But anyway, it was an honor to go, and there were only two guys, Mary, that went out of our whole company, and I was one of them. And how many people would that be? Out of how many people, would you say? Well, let’s see, in the company there’s 150 people, something like that. Yes. So only two out of that. So we didn’t even know why we went. You know, you don’t know why these things are happening. Yes. And so what year is this? So how old would you have been at this point? I was nineteen. Yes, nineteen. So we went to Sea School. And then when I graduated from Sea School— actually Sea School is almost like going now to Navy boot camp, because you need to know all about ships, the Navy’s history, where the bow is, where the stern, port and starboard, [ 00: 05: 00] you know, all the Navy terminology and their Navy history. So now you’ve almost gone through two boot camps: Marine Corps boot camp, Camp Pendleton for combat, and now Navy boot camp. After I graduated— I was fortunate. I graduated first in my class. Of course, there were only fifteen people, but anyway, it’s good to pass on to the grandkids, I guess. So anyway, they took the top three men from each graduating platoon and sent them down to the end of the hallway and said, Just go down there and we’ll tell you later. They don’t tell you anything in the service. So pretty soon, they took the top two or three graduating people from every class in Sea School and we made a special platoon— and it was called the Movie UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 Platoon— and we made all the training films for the United Nations [ UN] and the Marine Corps. Oh, we thought we were hot, Mary. Well, we were pretty good. Now when you say you made the movies, what did that mean? What did you—? Well, I ended up being at MCRD for almost eleven months before we went aboard the Curtiss. But the Movie Platoon, we made all the, like changing of the guard, that type of stuff, where the NATO [ North Atlantic Treaty Organization] troops could learn how to do it, and they picked— So they filmed you doing it? Oh yes. Oh yes, every day we were out there in that hot sun with full dress blues. And then when we weren’t filming, we would represent the Marine Corps in the West Coast, and we’d go on TV shows and we’d go to football games and we’d go to competition drill and all that. We’d also go to the funerals at [ Fort] Rosecrans [ National Cemetery], military funerals, and we’d be the honor guard. And that’s what we did. So we represented the Marine Corps on the West Coast. Now on the East Coast, it would be the Marine Detachment, Washington, D. C. that you see in the newscasts and all. OK. Oh yes, that’s what I’m thinking of, when you see the special events at the White House, et cetera. Right. Well, that’s what we did. That’s what we did on the West Coast. And it was the third time they’d tried to make these films. The first time, they were halfway through the films, World War II broke out, so naturally they stopped. And the next time was after World War II and the Commandant wouldn’t OK them, and they made them back East. And so the third time, and boy, the pressure was on us. The pressure was on us, you know. And then it was kind of— we didn’t like it. Let’s face it, you don’t like anything much when you’re in the service, but it was the UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 retakes, because everything was perfect. And I remember I had a habit as when I held my rifle I’d stick my thumb up. That would kill that shot. And so they’d show the rushes and they’d say, Well, we’re going to have to do it all over again. Everybody’d go, Oh, no, we don’t want to do it all again! They’d say, Thanks to Mackenzie, that had his thumb sticking up. And you could see it. We had white gloves on. You could see my thumb sticking up like this [ demonstrating]. They said, We’re going to rip your thumb off. So it’s that peer pressure thing, you know. But we had to be perfect. And we used, as an example, the British Royal Guard with those great big beaver hats— oh, those guys were so sharp. I mean they’re professionals, you know, they’d been in the service five, ten years, and you could see them just walking, their hands come up, and it’s perfect. And it’s one unit. But I remember— and the positive thing, and then we’ll get on to the Curtiss and all— but when we would be marching across the grinder, and that was the parade ground, we called it the grinder— and all the recruits’d be out there, and the drill instructors would tell them, they’d put them at parade rest and all that, and then we’d put on a little show for the recruits. And I remember the DIs saying, When you guys can march like that, you can call yourself Marines. But you could hear the cadence as the heels hitting [ slapping hands together] and so when you’d hear those DIs say that, it would tighten up. You’d stand up a little straighter, your head a little straighter, make sure that rifle’s just perfect, and then we���d go into our marching manual with the spin, with all the fancy stuff with the rifles, you’ve seen it, which took months and months and months and months to perfect. And we were the first silent drill team. We’d go out and do a whole show and not a word said. We all had the numbers in our head. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 Wow! Because I’ve always seen them with, what is that, the command is given or the instruction is given and then they do it. Yes. Right. Right. We were the first silent drill team. So we’d just go out there and remember, you know, you’d walk a hundred paces this way, three paces this way, two paces this way, spin your rifle, drop your rifle, to exchange your rifle, whatever. But I’m going to find some movies of those. A lot of them were taken. That was my question. Have you gotten a hold of those? [ 00: 10: 00] No. No. And they have them, I’m sure. I have a movie of us, though. I have it right here. Isn’t that right, Kari? [ Note: Kari Chipman is Robert Mackenzie’s daughter.] Yes, we have a movie of us actually marching and doing it. It was the official Marine Corps movie. Oh, I see. And you must have still photos, as well. A lot of stills. A lot of stills. So from there, what they did, and we didn’t know it, that they were clearing us for our top secret operation. The whole group of you? Yes, and we didn’t know it. Now what they did, and that’s interesting as I look back, our three squad leaders for the Movie Platoon— we had three squads, and we had three squad leaders that were corporals— and they were all from Operation Ivy, which was in 1951. And I realize now they never said anything. They wouldn’t talk to anybody. We just thought it was because they were corporals. They had their own room. They were NCOs, noncommissioned officers, and it was kind of like, Well, you don’t talk to those guys. So they had been on Ivy and then came back to Sea School is what you’re saying? That’s right. They had to be in the Movie Platoon. And when you think about it, we always wondered why they were there. You know, why were these three corporals, which are all alive UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 today and we know where they live, and they were our corporals and they were in the Movie Platoon and we filmed for six or seven months, then all of a sudden all the guys that could get a clearance went on the Curtiss for Operation Castle, as a group. Now did you know that they were clearing you at this point? No. No. And later, after, you know, years later, I went back to my old store and they said people were in there from the Secret Service asking about me and they thought I was in jail or got in some kind of trouble. A job you’d had at a store? Right. Yes. So they go all the way back to your kindergarten teacher, I think. Want to make sure you didn’t steal any of the milk, or I don’t know, but they checked you out very thoroughly. So all the guys that got a clearance, we went as a group on the Curtiss. Now we knew where it was going but we really didn’t know what we were going to do. OK, so after the fact, at some point you know that you’ve gotten a clearance. We didn’t know that until we were already halfway on the cruise. And the way we found out is that some of the men were called in and they were told they didn’t get a Queen Clearance. They got top secret but they didn’t get Queen. And it was no fault of theirs, Mary. Some of them, if they had one relative that was born in another country and something, they just couldn’t get one. Correct. Correct. So “ Q” stands for “ Queen.” Yes. Or is “ Queen” something you make from “ Q”? I wonder. I’ve never— Well, “ Q” must be “ Queen,” I guess. Yes. It must be. You guys said “ Queen,” though, when you said clearance. Yes. Yes. And it’s a Queen Clearance, yes. And they’re still around, I understand. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 Oh yes. Yes. The president has one. So we were always proud of that, you know. Yes. Yes. You were saying earlier before we recorded that— is this where you were saying you think something more than the clearance went on in the choice of you guys? Yes. Why don’t you talk to me a little bit about what that was, just your notion of a profile thing happening. Yes, I think it must’ve been a profile, Mary. I think just because either we were good on the rifle range or whatever, I don’t think— I think that we were profiled because as you talk to some of my shipmates and old Marine buddies, I find out that they have strong military backgrounds. And my father, World War I, Lost Battalion. My brother was in the First Marine Division. He was at Guadalcanal, Peleliu, he was with [ Lewis B.] Chesty Puller, had a chest full of ribbons, and he was a Marine’s Marine, there’s no doubt about it. Before you said “ chest full of ribbons,” you said Ches— Chesty Puller, which is, I mean he’s like the ultimate Marine. I think he— Chesty Puller. I don’t know what that phrase is. Ohh! Chesty Puller. He’s the only one that’s ever had five Silver Stars. Chesty Puller was a colonel in World War II. Later I believe he was Commandant of the Marine Corps. But Chesty Puller is a legend in the Marine Corps. In fact, they even have bumper stickers that say, you know, Good Night, Chesty, and stuff like that. In the Marine Corps, he’s a legend. I only saw him once. I saw him in MCRD, and I saw him coming toward me. I thought, Oh no, I said, that’s Chesty. And you just don’t even want to get around this guy because he’s going to find something wrong. And the reason I knew it was Chesty is he had his barracks cap, which is his UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 cover, cocked a little. Only Chesty could get away with that. Nobody’s going to say, Hey, [ 00: 15: 00] Chesty, that’s not regulation. It’s got to be squared away and straight, and he had a little cock to it. And he’s got a barrel chest. And he’d been wounded a lot of times. And like I say, a chest full of ribbons, and he was an old China Marine and all that. This guy is a maniac, but everybody loved him. And I saw him coming and I said [ to myself], Oh, my God. So I saluted him. But he had a tendency, after you passed, you could hear Chesty’s voice say, Get back here, Marine. And you would say, Oh, God, I did something wrong, you know, and I kept walking away, and he never called me back. It’s the only time I saw him, you know, but yes, Chesty Puller. OK. Thanks for explaining that. But then you were saying that in reference to your own brother, so— Well, Chesty Puller was his commanding officer, and at that time he was a colonel, at Guadalcanal, so he was my brother’s commanding officer. And he’s told me a lot of Chesty Puller stories, you know. Anyway, maybe, getting back to profiling, because of my brother’s history and my father’s history, and then even— I don’t know if they’d go back that far, but my grandmother was President [ Ulysses S.] Grant’s niece. And so I don’t know if they would go back that far or not. But I mean— That’s interesting. Yes, well, he’s pretty military, you know. Just a little! [ Laughing] Yes. So anyway, so I don’t know. But then, I mean, that’s not that unusual. When I talked to some of the other guys, just like Gene Pratt, we mentioned, that did the newsletter UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 [ Curtiss Atomic Marine Newsletter] before Kari took over, three generations in the Marine Corps. You’d talk to Ed Franklin, one of my buddies, his dad was on the San Diego, which was a battleship when it was sunk by a German mine, World War I. And so all these stories are coming out and I wonder if we were profiled. I mean I imagine that you had to be naturally a pretty squared- away Marine, but I think they went a step more, I really do. I really do. And I don’t know. Well, yes, it’s interesting speculation, or it’s a perception that I think we have to pay attention to. It’s also interesting because it sounds like, tell me if I’m getting this right, that it’s something you sort of begin to become conscious of many years after the— Oh, absolutely. Until we started getting together for our very first reunion— and we called it the “ Never- Too- Late Reunion,” which was in 1998— we didn’t talk to each other until then. I walked in and saw people, Mary, that I haven’t seen in forty- five, fifty years. And they still walked the same. You know, they don’t look the same. And the eyes are the same, the voice. But I’d say, Hey, that’s So- and- so, and it was, you know. That’s interesting. But we had a great time. Commanding officers were there and all that. A great turnout. First one was in San Diego and we went back to MCRD. And I think that’s when we first realized that we probably— there was more to what we did than even we realized. And we couldn’t talk about it anyway. But getting back. I’m getting way ahead of myself— That’s OK. Let me assure you about that, because we don’t think chronologically. We’ll digress. If I feel we’re digressing too far a field, or if you do, I’ll probably say no. But if I feel we’re digressing too far a field, I’ll bring you back. But it’s natural to move back and forth in time. But we can return now to the— Well, now we’re on the Curtiss. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 So you go from San Diego, you get orders to go up to— or was the Curtiss here? The Curtiss was in San Diego. So we went right aboard there just before Christmas. And that would be 19— Nineteen fifty- three. And they let us go home for Christmas, if you lived in San Diego. So I was lucky, and so I went home for Christmas. And even then, that you couldn’t tell anybody what you were doing. Even then. So we thought, well- l- l, but, you know, we didn’t think that much about it, because see, Korea was going, and so we felt, well, I don’t know. But I remember with my girlfriend, and they especially talked to us about the girlfriends. They said, We don’t want you to say a word to your girlfriend. And so anyway, I remember with my girlfriend I just said, Well, we’d better have a really good time tonight. We always do, but we’ll make tonight special. And she says, You’re not leaving, are you? And I said, I didn’t say that. And with my parents and all that, you’d tell them but you don’t tell them. You know, they knew I was going somewhere, especially my dad. And so anyway, I don’t think [ 00: 20: 00] that the rest of the men, Mary, realized as early on as I did. And I tell you why, is that when I went aboard ship, they made me an orderly, which was a great honor. And so I was the admiral’s orderly, and before that I was the captain’s orderly. In fact, by the time I was aboard the Curtiss for eighteen months, I worked as an orderly for three admirals and two ship’s captains and the executive officer, which was a great background for a young man. And I have the highest regard for naval officers. I watched them talk to their men, I watched them talk to their fellow officers, I saw how they solved problems, and just what a great example for a young man, to be around people of that caliber. It was wonderful. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 Let me ask you a question here because I don’t know that much about the armed forces. The Curtiss is obviously a Navy ship. Yes. And you’re a Marine serving on it. Is that common? No. It’s only in capital ships, normally, which would be battleships— “ Capital ships.” Capital ships, which would be— the terminology has changed today, Mary, but in my day it was battleships, cruisers, heavy cruisers, light cruisers, aircraft carriers, would have Marine detachments. Now originally the Marine detachments were almost the police force of the ship. And they were called MAs, which would be Master- of- Arms. Very unpopular with the Navy. And the brig is, of course, run by the Marines. But on our ship, we didn’t have those duties, not on the Curtiss. The Curtiss, we were a special force with top secret clearances. People only didn’t talk to us because they would say, Hey, you don’t talk to those guys. It was that kind of thing. So anyway, but we ended up being very close with the Navy, but our duties, we didn’t talk to each other about our duties. What about the other guys in your— what are you called now? A— We were a detachment. Detachment. In your detachment. So you’re an orderly. Then what are the other guys doing? The other guys would stand post and stand the guard duty. As part of security, they break the bomb up and all that stuff in a lot of pieces, so if security is breached, they just get one piece of the puzzle. So we had things all over the ship. And the security is extremely tight. So explain to me how much you knew about the mission or what you thought or what’s that like? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 We didn’t know anything about it, frankly. You know, I realized that it was more than just a mission. Now by that time, Mary, the Korean War was over with. We were steaming out in ’ 54? Yes, January of ’ 54 is when we left San Diego. And Korea had been over for about six months, but the Cold War was extremely hot then. And when I first realized that there was more going on than we realized is when we had full wartime conditions on the ship. And I’d thought, Well, what are we doing here? The ship’s all blacked out at night. We’ve got all these red lights on you see in the movies, like those submarine movies, everybody running and all those red lights on at night. And heavy, heavy drapes in front of every hatch. And you don’t go outside, or as they say, out on the decks without closing that, and then you open the hatch and a red light comes on, then you close the hatch. And they were conscious of sound, of lights. And I said, What’s going on here? You know. And so when I really realized there was more going on is when I was on orderly duty for the admiral. And I was on duty and on duty and on duty and I just couldn’t stand up anymore. So I called somebody in the Marine detachment and said, Well, when is my relief going to be here? It was real late at night, it was like eleven or twelve o’clock, I’d gone on that morning at 6: 30, and I’d been standing all day long. That’s what you do. And I just got so I couldn’t stand anymore. So I called down and I was told that the admiral only wanted me and there would be no relief, So just stick it out, Mackenzie. I wasn’t real happy about that. But anyway, so— and I’ll put this right on tape— so a Marine never sits down on duty, but I did. I couldn’t stand up anymore. So I found a chair in an empty officer’s stateroom and I [ 00: 25: 00] wedged that chair in a real narrow hallway that went into the admiral’s quarters, and I put my feet against the bulkhead and I rocked back and I just kind of rocked with the ship. At least I was off my feet, and I figured nobody could get by me. So I guess, I don’t know if I dozed UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 off or what, but alls I know is this sailor was shaking my arm. It was about 2: 30, three o’clock in the morning. And he says, Wake up the admiral! Wake up the admiral! And I said, Well, who are you? What do you mean, wake up the admiral? It’s three o’clock in the morning. [ And he said], Oh, they want him on the bridge right now. And I said, Who wants him on the bridge? [ And he said], Well, the officers, blah, blah, and all that. I said, Well, what is your name? And he gave me his name, and I said, What’s the officer’s name? I really realized we were very, very conscious and were trained to be suspicious of everything. I don’t know who this guy is. He wants to go in and see the admiral? That’s my job. Nobody goes in to see the admiral. And so anyway I said, Well, I’ll go wake up the admiral and you go back and report to the bridge, and I’m sure the admiral will be right there. I didn’t want him to go in with me. And so anyway, he left. So now I’m saying, How do you wake up an admiral? You know. I wanted to do it maybe like I was back in back in boot camp and scream, say, Hit the deck! I says, well, no, I didn’t want to go to the brig, so I didn’t do that. So anyway I said, Well, how do you wake up an admiral? So anyway, I woke him up. And I remember he said, What is it, Mackenzie? And he was startled. And I said, Sir, the admiral’s presence is requested on the bridge immediately. You don’t want to say “ immediately” to an admiral, but I did. Anyway, he looked at me, and he had a phone right next to his bunk. And I always wondered, if he had phone, why didn’t they just call him? I don’t know. You know, you would wonder. And so anyway, he picked up his phone. And like I said, the respect from the naval officers, they’re just UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 really something, Mary, they really are. And so he went up on the deck with his blue terrycloth bathrobe on. He picks up the phone and confirms? Right. And then he puts on his blue bathrobe— He doesn’t even get dressed. Oh no. They want him right no