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Interview with John Frederick Campbell, July 23, 2004


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Narrator affiliation: Operations Mining Superintendent, Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo)

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Campbell, John Frederick. Interview, 2004 July 23. 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 John F. Campbell July 23, 2004 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Robert Nickel © 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 John F. Campbell July 23, 2004 Conducted by Robert Nickel Table of Contents Introduction: Mr. Campbell had significant mining experience before he was hired to work for Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company [ REECo] in 1967. He discusses how this experience prepared him to work as a miner at the Nevada Test Site. 1 Mr. Campbell recalls some of the mining activities carried out at the Tonopah Test Range. 5 A considerable amount of mining work was necessary in order to conduct an underground nuclear test. Mr. Campbell cites statistics from Distant Zenith to illustrate this process. 6 Long working hours, lengthy commutes, and a common sense of mission helped to forge a sense of camaraderie among test site miners. 9 After working as a miner at the test site, Mr. Campbell was promoted to a supervisory position. 11 Mr. Campbell and other miners considered the Nevada Test Site to be one of the safest mining environments in the industry. Mr. Campbell describes the site’s safety procedures, government oversight, and an accident that occurred in spite of these measures. 13 High rates of cancer and other illnesses among former test site miners prompted the federal government to create a university- sponsored medical screening program to diagnose work- related illnesses and compensate those who are affected. Mr. Campbell played a key role as a liaison between the medical community and former test site miners. 17 Mr. Campbell narrates a series of photographs from nuclear tests conducted in Amchitka, Alaska. 21 Security clearances and concerns for secrecy were parts of everyday life for workers at the Nevada Test Site. Mr. Campbell describes security procedures, background investigations, and how secrecy affected test site employees. 25 Protestors were a common sight at the Nevada Test Site. Mr. Campbell reacts to the demonstrators and shares his own convictions regarding the moral implications of working in the nuclear test program. 29 Mr. Campbell describes the responsibilities of a mining supervisor on the day of an underground test. 31 Mr. Campbell discusses labor issues at the Nevada Test Site and compares work at the test site to similar jobs in other mining industries. 33 Conclusion: The venting of Baneberry caused concerns regarding radiological safety. Mr. Campbell recalls witnessing the test and adapting to new safety regulations established after the incident. Concern for exposure to radiation 35 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 increased interest in the government’s screening and compensation program. Most miners considered risk to be a natural part of their job. Mr. Campbell describes this attitude and suggests that most test site miners would still have done their jobs even if they fully knew the risks of exposure to radiation. 39 Mr. Campbell discusses how the nuclear test program developed cutting edge technology that has now become a part of everyday life. 44 Mr. Campbell reflects on his experiences as a test site miner and speculates about the future of the Nevada Test Site. 47 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with John F. Campbell July 23, 2004 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Robert Nickel [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Robert Nickel: OK, if you could start off by just talking a little bit about your background, where you were born, work experience, that sort of thing. John Campbell: Well, I was born in La Jolla, California, and I was raised on a cattle ranch in Colorado between Paonia and Hotchkiss, a little community called Midway. And my family’s ranch has been in the family since the 1890s, a cattle ranch. I went to high school there, and ten days after I graduated from high school, my father died. So I pursued other avenues, something with my life other than college, because that was my chance to go to college. So I went to work in the uranium mines out of Grand Junction, near Gateway Colorado, up on John Brown Mesa. I worked for Climax Uranium in 1962— let’s see, went to work in 1962, August of ’ 62, for Climax Uranium— and I worked there for about, oh, a year and a half, and then went to Jeffrey City, Wyoming, betweens Rawlins and Lander on Highway 287. They had a— it was once called Home on the Range— there was a uranium deposit in Crook’s Gap/ Green Mountain that I worked for Continental and Uranium. I worked for them for three years, and then one year south of Tucson, Arizona. Finally the test site on, July 18 of ’ 67, just about— quite a few years ago. And, I — actually I went to work with the laborers’ local 872 as a miner— joined the union— and I worked as a miner for about fifteen years of the twenty- six years I worked for Reynolds Electric[ al] and Engineering [ REECo], all in the underground weapons research and development. Now, how did you get the job with REECo? Was that through the union, or how did you—? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Through the union. Hired on through the Laborers Local # 872 union, and once I was within REECo— because they hired seven, eight thousand people during the early sixties and seventies— they had as a many as four or five hundred miners. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know when I came to work out there during the late sixties they probably had four hundred miners that would come and go, from all over the country. They came from back East, some in the coal mines, some in the uranium mines, some in hard rock here in Nevada, the copper mines up north. And some of them were out of the tunnel transit— rapid transit— back in Washington, D. C. and San Francisco. A lot of them, the water projects near Bakersfield, California. A lot of those guys came here. And Bishop, California, that was another big source of people that came to the test site. Uranium miners out of Grants, New Mexico— we got a lot of those. A lot of the uranium miners went to work out there. And I worked through the union for about fifteen years. I think ’ 84 was when I went into supervision, 1984. I’d have to look in my records on that for sure, but I believe it was September of ’ 84, to the best of my memory. And like I said, the first job that I went to was U6a. That was the very first job, because they had killed two people up on the Rainer mesa in Area 19, U19g. They killed— two people got hung up in the mining of the cavity. I think it was Parker and Johnson. I didn’t get to meet them, but I replaced them. I replaced one of the guys [ 00: 05: 00] that gave his life there. And it was at the bottom of a 3,800- foot, 48- inch cased hole. It was 3,800 feet straight down, just like a stovepipe. The deepest one I worked at was U19e, and that was five thousand some odd feet deep. I can’t remember the code names of them, because I didn’t work on the fielding after the mining was done. All we did was mine a cavity out— about a twenty- five by fifty cavity— and then we turned it over to the scientists, and then they loaded a bomb into it, a rack, and then stemmed it and shot it. Well, I got to work in that kind of a situation, because in Arizona I UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 worked in the shaft. I was a shaft miner, sinking vertical shafts down when I worked there, and in the copper mines in Arizona. So I had a mining background in uranium and copper and some gold and silver, in Telluride, Colorado. I worked in Telluride at the Idorado for a short time. But after that I came to the test site, then I retired in 1994. June 30 of ’ 94 was my last day for Reynolds Electric. And I’ve set about since collecting all the information I can to help do an oral history. That’s great. Well, one thing I wanted to ask you about is— you had all this experience in uranium mining and other types of mining— how did that compare to the mining that you did at the test site? Was it similar, or how much of it was completely new that you had to innovate on your own? There were all of the above. The scientists were famous for bringing you the impossible and saying, Let’s do it. Like trying to put a ten- foot plug, or a ten- foot piece of solid granite— we had to take it, oh, about two thousand feet underground, and the drift that we were taking it up was only ten feet in diameter. So actually what they wanted to take underground was bigger than the drift. But we did it. It took a lot of effort— a lot of manpower— to do that but we did it. The difference in mining— because it’s underground construction, is what the test site was. Even though you employed a lot of mining equipment and things that they used— continuous miners, Alpine Miners, drilling and blasting with dynamite— we used all of the above at the test site. And as the technology and mining methods improved, then we took that knowledge and put it to work on the test site. And over the twenty- six years that I was out there, it evolved quite a bit. Because it used to be they’d have a crew of— including bull gang— probably thirty- five to forty men per crew. And then you had a crew— it’d run twenty- four hours a day, so you’d have three shifts. And then in the later years, ten years later, you’d probably have UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 a crew of eighteen. They cut them in half and less, because we got better equipment, newer methods. And it took us usually about eighteen months to do a turnaround from the time you’d get the blueprints and get the OK and funding from the Department of Energy [ DOE] through Defense Nuclear Agency [ DNA], or one of the laboratories, either Los Alamos or Lawrence Livermore. They would fund the project and it’d take about eighteen months to mine what was in the neighborhood of– how many feet of tunnel? About 4,450 foot of tunnel, to be in one test bed. And it’d take about eighteen months to do the mining, field the experiments for the scientists, [ 00: 10: 00] and to execute or to detonate the atomic device, and then reenter to recover the information and film and different things that they had in the test bed. Mostly film and recordings and stuff that they were after. But it took about, I think, what, $ 47 million for Distant Zenith [ 1991]? And how many man hours? I didn’t ever know how many man hours— but fully fielded, when I was superintendent at P- Tunnel, the biggest crew we had, I think I had 350- some craftsmen and support help at one time in P- Tunnel. Now, since it takes eighteen months to do the test, would there ever be times when you were working on more than one at a time? Yes. We’d be usually reentering one, fielding one, and developing one, or construction of the mining part. So we’d have one going for the future, one that we were working on now, and then the reentry of one that’s been executed. Usually all three of those things went on at the same time, most of the time. And sometimes they would get two and three jobs going underground. N- Tunnel had a big cadre of people. In fact, N- Tunnel was the last underground tunnel shot, Hunters Trophy [ 1992]. That was the last tunnel event before the moratorium, and I got to work on that and complete the reentry on it, as a mining superintendent. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 But I don’t know how many jobs I worked on. Somewhere I have that number, but it was close to, I believe, fifty- some different jobs that I worked on. Somewhere in my records— before I left out there, I sat down and wrote down every job that I’d been on, on the test site— and I’ve got that here in all this information somewhere. I believe it was fifty- two, fifty- three, something like that, different jobs I’d worked on, some of them just a short time and some a long time. I’d go on missile recovery up in Tonopah. They had to have— shoot missiles down into the ground from, oh, thirty thousand feet or something, out of the plane, a powered missile. And they’d shoot it into the earth, and then we’d go down and recover it for them. And that was up in Tonopah? Tonopah. Tonopah Test Range. That’s up north, right? “ Up top,” they call it. That’s where they did the developing of the Stealth, the bomber and the fighter. The bomber was done in Systems, which is Area 51 or whatever you want to call it. Spotted Range. And then they had the ones up, they called “ up top,” in Tonopah. And was that a DOE or a DoD [ Department of Defense] instead of—? That was for Sandia, when we’d do the missile recovery. Like REECo managed the test site, Sandia Laboratories managed— with REECo support and help— they managed the Tonopah Test Range. And they did a lot of weapons computer systems, to where they could— like they had a bridge. They could come over here with a gun and shoot a missile with a computer and device in it, oh, sixty, seventy feet into solid rock or concrete, and then talk to it six months later and detonate it. And you couldn’t find it. You could smell them, but there’s no metal detector that could ever pick up what it was made out of. It looked just like a bullet, like you’d take a bullet out of a gun, big game. And they would shoot those things— they were about four inches in UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 diameter by about five foot long, probably weighed 130 pounds, maybe. They were fairly heavy and [ 00: 15: 00] probably about that long and were shaped just like a bullet. And they would shoot them— they had computers in them— they would actually shoot them down into the ground, sometimes to 150 feet, 200 feet. And then they’d talk to them with a radio of some kind, a signal on a computer, and could actually detonate and fire a weapon sometime later. Now, was this in the eighties or the seventies? Eighties. Yes. Mid- eighties. Late seventies, mid- eighties. I went up there— probably over the span of five years, I was up there maybe once or twice a year. They’d call us, a certain group of drill hole personnel up there, to do their recovery and stuff. It was fun, gave us a break, and got to go somewhere other than back and forth to the test site. You already touched on this a little bit, but I was just wondering if you could give sort of a brief overview from start to finish, what would be involved in sort of a typical underground test, from the mining standpoint? Well, first of all, your cadre of people, you run a three- shift operation. You’d probably hire two hundred, by the time you got all your support people— you know, truck drivers, cement truck drivers, and plumbers, pipe fitters, miners, laborers, bull gang, electricians, operating engineers, carpenters. We had them from all unions. And like I said, it took about eighteen months. Twelve months to do the mining, roughly, then to insert the device and stem it would take probably about seven days, once they actually put the device in, then we would back out of that tunnel and was ready to test. They’d give us about seven days, because they had to have a cure on concrete of so many days before the concrete containment plugs would be hard enough to withstand the blast in case something happened. And it did every once in a while. But here’s some of the statistics at Distant Zenith. The grout or concrete that we poured underground was about eleven UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 thousand yards, cubic yards. The tunneling began in October of ’ 89 and completed June of ’ 90 so that was pretty close to eighteen [ eight] months. There were 4,450 feet of tunnel. And the overburden— or the cover over ground zero— that part at P- Tunnel, was 880 feet. Ground zero, the distance from portal, was 4,900 feet. The amount of earth removed, 29,496 cubic yards. The line- of- sight pipe was 800 foot long, diameter from six inches to twelve foot. And then they had an event bag in the cavity itself with a volume of 138,300 cubic feet. What do they mean by “ event bag”? That part of it was classified. I’ve seen it— and there was some kind of a gas or a combination of gases in there— and they filled this bag full of gas right before the detonation. So it added to something. But I did— that was probably one of the things that I don’t— you just go around shaking your head about like, Yeah, you didn’t get to know. And there were four hundred miles of cabling with twelve hundred channels. And a budget of $ 47 million. This was done in September of 1991. And I got this from a Lieutenant Johnson that was a DNA project engineer. He compiled all this stuff. I often wondered how much it was, but until we brought it out— I brought it home because I was there at P- Tunnel, and just a lot of people wouldn’t have any idea. We did enough construction to build one of these hotels down there [ on the Las Vegas Strip], and then nobody ever got to see it. It was just [ clicks tongue] and then we’d reenter and then cover it up and go on to the next one. Because I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a map of the underground test bed— here’s the plug, and this is the [ 00: 20: 00] tunnel complex [ showing map]. See, this is ground zero, and these are called bypasses. And this is where the line- of- sight pipe starts up here at six inches in diameter, right here, and goes all the way down to there, and that’s twelve foot in diameter there. This is the main tunnel coming in. So this would be stemmed first, and all the cabling and everything, then your scientists would come in and do all of their things UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 inside the pipe. Then we’d pump concrete all on the outside of it, and then they would insert the device, and then we’d retreat and pump all this full of concrete out to right here. That would be the last. All that was solid concrete. And in about seven days. And then you had all the cabling and everything that was there. Here’s one at T- Tunnel [ showing another map]. This is Mighty Oak. This is the one that got away from them. I worked on that a little bit. That’s the one that radiated all of P- Tunnel. It was contaminated. It really became contaminated. That was, say, ’ 85? Yes, I believe. Yes. Let’s see, this here [ sound of papers rattling]. Let me show you where— this is T- Tunnel. That’s T- Tunnel. This is P- Tunnel and that— we don’t have a picture of that one. [ Showing another map] That’s A, B, and C- drift at N- Tunnel, at ground zero looking out towards— all this in here was to do with hardening of silos, hardening of structures to withstand a direct hit, so they could put their communications for NORAD [ North American Aerospace Defense Command] like over at Colorado Springs. And that’s all done underground on big, huge springs and stuff. And this was, I think, Diamond Sculls, was the code name of that. Now, that would’ve been back in the seventies. I got a book that tells you every event that was done and when it was done. I’m sure you got access to all this. Yes, we do. It’s a great resource. You can look up all the dates and— Yes, and then code names that would reference when they were— yes. [ Showing another map] That was P- Tunnel. This one here, Mission Cyber. That was done at P- Tunnel. And where on the test site was that area? Area 12. Most all of the tunnels were Area 12, Area 16, and they had a shaft at Area 15, which was Pile Driver and Hard Hat and Red Hot, those code names were over in Area 15, in granite. And that’s what this became later, was the Climax Repository. And I worked on that, I helped UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 drive all that. And that’s in granite— hard granite, like the core that I showed you? That came from the Area 15 shaft. Real hard, where the rest of the tunnels are pretty soft. It’s a soft medium called Alluvium. But this here is a great reference for what they did underground at P- Tunnel. And I think every once in a while, I get homesick, but not too homesick. I miss the people. I do that. I do, because I have a great camaraderie with friends even today, at the breakfasts [ informal monthly meeting of REECo retirees], and several of them that I’ve— yes. Right. I actually wanted to ask you about that. I’ve met quite a few of the REECo people, and you guys still have the monthly breakfasts and still keep in touch. I mean there’s quite a connection there, and I was just wondering, what it was about working there that made it such a special connection. The underground people were a unique breed of people, kind of different, you know. And, [ 00: 25: 00] well, you spent more time with your working people than you did your own family. Because you’d get on the bus in Las Vegas and you’d sit beside one of them that you worked with all day long and you’d ride two hours out, change clothes, ride up the hill on a bus, go underground, work for eight, come out, take a shower, come home, and do that five days a week, sometimes seven days a week. A lot of it was seven days a week. Yes, I worked a lot of seven days a week. If that was a busy testing schedule or—? Once they inserted the device, they were kind of under a preset timetable to get it executed in so many days. Yes, because that was the big picture. The whole world had to be alerted that we were going to do a nuclear weapons test, so Russia had to know, everybody in the world had to know, that we were going to do this on a certain day. Most of them. Not all of them. And sometimes they’d do two and three at once. And that’s the way they concealed what they were UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 doing. They had them simultaneously. Bam! You get three of them going. They did some of that. Yes, and some of this stuff that I’ve collected here, like this— Ernest Campbell— he’s no relation of mine, but he came dragging this thing over here not too long ago. And most every one of these guys on here are dead. But him, Buc Donovan, he might still be alive. Harry Giesler’s dead. Chuck Phillips, he’s dead. His son came to the breakfasts, and he and I were real close. We worked partners for years. Carl Lefler. Al Fitzpatrick. Schofield. And Walter Bennett. He was the user, or what they call user, or the test director. They had funny names. Acronyms. We were told later, after the drug culture come about, we could no longer call the scientists “ users.” Now, did they have set teams or groups of people? Would you work with the same people all the time, or did that rotate a lot? It varied, changed, yes. Sometimes supervision had a way of picking the people that they wanted to work for them on their job over here, for whatever reasons— you know, politics and all of the above. And some of that went on, but most of the time, you had a work force of— and then you had people that specialized in things, like shaft work and drill hole work. And that’s why I got to go, because I’ve been familiar with drill holes, and I had that experience that always could get me to go to Tonopah and do just different stuff, because of the experience that I had before I got to the test site, you see. I was lucky enough to get the experience in calyx holes. They use them for ventilation shafts in copper mines and stuff. You drill a big hole, and then we’d have to go down there and put lining and concrete in them. But we worked out of the work deck cages and stuff, and I got a lot of experience in that. And sinking shafts. Now, you said you worked as a miner for fifteen years and then you became a supervisor. How did that work? Was that just sort of a regular promotion, you’d been around, had the experience, or—? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 Yes, it was a cumulative of all of the above. The experience that I had— and I’d always been a shift boss, even when I was a miner with the union. I was a “ shifter,” they called it, which you’d answer to supervision, a company, because you had to have a company person telling the union person. That’s the way they set it up. One union person couldn’t tell another union person what to do, unless you were a shifter. And you had to make more money, so they had that, but then you had to have a company person telling the union person how to do it. It was a way of putting [ 00: 30: 00] people to work, too, which worked out good. It did. Because the miners had a good labor pool here that they could draw from, and that’s what they did. That’s what won the Cold War, the people like myself that went— and some of them gave a lot more than I did. I’m still alive. There’s so many of them that are not. Some of them younger than I am, too. Quite a bit younger. But I started out as a miner in the Laborers Local 872, and then after the fifteen years, they needed first level management— what do they call them, tunnel walkers or walking bosses. They were assistant superintendents. And then I became operations mining superintendent over one of the tunnels. And then I did even serve part- time as a project manager. I even got delegation of authority for department manager for a week one time. I mean there was nothing going on out there, but somebody had to have delegation of authority to be responsible for what went on, so I got to sit in the big chair a couple times. Being the mining superintendent, that was a plateful right there. You’ve got three hundred craftsmen working for you, and they’re worse than old women, some of them. Oh! Because they make good money, they make top dollar, but then they get cranky and fussy and they’ve been there forever and they think that they own the place, and in a way they do because they were good, they were some of the best craftsmen you’d ever want to be around that went through that test site. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 And I’ll bet a lot of the skills are so specialized at the test site that it would be really hard to replace workers just because— You can’t. See, if they had to start today and really get back, we couldn’t even do business the way we used to. They wouldn’t let us. Because with radiation, with training, with the way they have to do business today, I don’t know if— it’d take them a lot more money and a lot more time to do an event the way we did it. Now, they can reinvent the wheel a little bit, and I’m sure that they always can, to get it faster and better, with money and technology. Because I think they’ve been tasked by Congress, because the turnaround time was eighteen months. They wanted to cut it in half— they wanted to turn one around in nine months, and even faster than that. I don’t know. They might, I’m sure. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You get enough people thinking about it and they could come up with something. The only thing I could envision was a huge laser beam that just vaporized the rock. And that’s possible, too, but it’d cost so much and so much energy to do something like that right now, I think, that it would probably be cost prohibitive, I bet. But they’ve got the power to do it. That’s what Ledoux was. It was the world’s most powerful laser. And that was generated by a high explosive device. The light was generated, and then they refracted it through gases and mirrors, and I don’t know how they judged the wattage. I guess megawatts of a laser beam. But I heard Ralphie Papagian, the project scientist from Los Alamos, say at that time it was the world’s most powerful laser. That was the one Elmer Sowder, you guys interviewed, he was in charge of that. Yes, he was redoing Ledoux. I was on that. Yes. Well, you mentioned a little bit sort of the safety issue, and when I think about mining in general— but especially at the test site— I think it must be just really dangerous work. And I was UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 just wondering, first of all, how dangerous was it, and if you had seen— were there a lot of accidents? I mean obviously there were risks. [ 00: 35: 00] Well, when I first came to the test site, after working in the industry in uranium and the copper and gold and silver industry, I thought to myself, heck, a miner could live forever out here. But in the industry, I think, what, test pilots, oil rig workers, have a higher accident ratio. But on the test site, the miners were second in fatalities, in lost time accidents, and stuff like that, the mining, because of the exposure. The big, heavy drill rigs, their exposure was a little more so, so their fatality rate and lost time was higher a little bit. I did ask them questions of Bill Beam the head of safety, at one time, because I thought mining would probably be the most. He said, No, he said, it’s on the drill rigs. Because there are so many moving parts, you know, machinery- type. Of course, underground you have that, but that’s more specialized, I guess. We did. We lost a few. I never lost anybody on my crews. A broken foot was the worst accident that happened to my crews. Every day you went out there, you were lucky, because we pushed the edge sometimes. And all you have to do is have one thing go bad. It only takes that long [ snaps fingers] and pssshhhooo. Yes. I walked on the edge. I’ve seen a lot of close calls, real close. I believe in prayer because I’ve seen a couple of things. One time at Ledoux, we dropped probably a three- hundred- pound metal plate that had frozen together at night. There were two of them frozen together, and they went to lift it up with the hoist and it broke loose and dropped about 150 feet down the shaft. Well, soon as he brought it up, it broke the tension and one of them [ slaps hands together] skidded and fell down the shaft. And my crew was at the bottom of the shaft, getting ready to come up for lunch. And I was standing in the office— because I’d heard the bell ring to call for the cage for them guys to come up— and I knew that the top lander was getting ready to lower this piece of metal. And I��d seen him, and he was safe. He was doing UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 everything safe, but he didn’t understand or realize at the time that they were frozen together, because it was so cold. And soon as that broke that surface tension, that other one [ slaps hands together] just scooted out and fell down the shaft. And it went down about one hundred- fifty and hung up. It could’ve tore that shaft all to— well, it was a piece of metal plate probably an inch- and- a- half thick, inch to inch- and- a- half, three by four, four by five, maybe, weighed at least three hundred pounds. And it’d cut a man in half. But it w