Lake Charles man witnessed first test of hydrogen bomb

Lake Charles man witnessed first test of hydrogen bomb

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A Lake Charles man who served in the Navy at the end of World War 2 later served during the early days of testing for the hydrogen bomb. Self was only 17 when he signed up with the U.S. Navy in the waning days of World War 2. It was May 1945.  Years later, during the Korean War, Marvin found himself in the Pacific observing the first test of a hydrogen bomb.

"It was 1951. The Korean War was going on. We suspect Russia was spying on us." 
Self was stationed near the Marshal Islands at Enewetak (N-O-wee-tock Atoll) observing a historic occasion.

"We were all standing around. It went off like daylight early in the morning. It was just a big flash. Several seconds later, the sound waves hit, knocking several people down. "

Self says not everyone in the region knew what was being test.

"When they got to zero, it was detonated. It lit the sky up for miles. Ships 30, 40 and 50 miles away saw the flash. We told them a tanker of fuel had exploded because they didn't want them to know."

He said the entire operation affected him the rest of his life.

"I knew some of the things that could happen, you know, if we weren't careful. I think it made me appreciate life more. "

After his military service, Marvin Self went on to an oilfield career with Magcobar drilling fluids. He turns 90 on May 28.

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