By Nathan Baker
“It was one of the most awesome and beautiful and deadly demonstrations of power you could ever want to witness. I hope it’s never used again in this world.”
Elizabethton resident Dean Batchelder is one of the few living people to have witnessed an above-ground nuclear bomb test.
In 1955 Batchelder, then a Sgt. 1st Class in the U.S. Army, was offered the chance to witness the live test while studying to become a chemical and biological weapons expert.
Years later, he recounted the events at the test site near Desert Rock, Nev., as one of the most memorable experiences of his 22-year military career.
“We were about a mile away at the top of a gentle slope that overlooked the test site,” he said. “It started out as a fireball with a big, long cloud under it. It turned red, then yellow, then orange and white.
“It was an amazing thing to witness.”
Batchelder’s service began years before that explosive day in the desert, however.