“If there is a hell on earth, it's got to be that.”

Joel Healy joined the Army when he was 17 years old, in order to pay for college. He never imagined that he would witness the detonation of more than 20 atomic bombs.

Joel was a Private First Class when he was assigned to Camp Desert Rock, north of Las Vegas, in 1957.

That’s where he took part in Operation Plumbbob, one of the largest nuclear tests series ever conducted on U.S. soil.

At StoryCorps, Joel told his daughter, Kelli Healy Salazar, about his time at the Nevada test site.

Image of
Recorded in

It’s hard to determine just how many Veterans became ill because they were present at these tests.

But Healy, and thousands of others, have received compensation from the U.S. Government as part of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990.

Recorded in Atlanta, Georgia
Produced by Michael Garofalo
Facilitated by Stephanie Burton
Read the Transcript
Click here for the transcript.