On the 50th Anniversary of the Atomic Bomb

Building a test site

In the fall of 1944 soldiers started arriving at Trinity Site to prepare for the test. Marvin Davis and his military police unit arrived from Los Alamos at the site on Dec. 30, 1944. The unit set up security checkpoints around the area and had plans to use horses to ride patrol. According to Davis the distances were too great and they resorted to jeeps and trucks for transportation. The horses were sometimes used for polo, however. Davis said that Capt. Bush, base camp commander, somehow got the soldiers real polo equipment to play with but they preferred brooms and a soccer ball.

Base Camp

Other recreation at the site included volleyball and hunting. Davis said Capt. Bush allowed the soldiers with experience to use the Army rifles to hunt deer and pronghorn. The meat was then cooked up in the mess hall. Leftovers went into soups which Davis said were excellent.

Of course, some of the soldiers were from cities and unfamiliar with being outdoors a lot. Davis said he went to relieve a guard at the Mockingbird Gap post and the soldier told Davis he was surprised by the number of "crawdads" in the area considering it was so dry. Davis gave the young man a quick lesson on scorpions and warned him not to touch.

Throughout 1945 other personnel arrived at Trinity Site to help prepare for the test. Carl Rudder was inducted into the Army on Jan. 26, 1945. He said he passed through four camps, took basic for two days and arrived at Trinity Site on Feb. 17. On arriving he was put in charge of what he called the "East Jesus and Socorro Light and Water Company." It was a one-man operation--himself. He was responsible for maintaining generators, wells, pumps and doing the power line work.

A friend of Rudder's, Loren Bourg, had a similar experience. He was a fireman in civil life and ended up trained as a fireman for the Army. He worked as the station sergeant at Los Alamos before being sent to Trinity Site in April 1945. In a letter Bourg said, "I was sent down here to take over the fire prevention and fire department. Upon arrival I found I was the fire department, period."

As the soldiers at Trinity Site settled in they became familiar with Socorro. They tried to use the water out of the ranch wells but found it so alkaline they couldn't drink it. In fact, they used Navy salt- water soap for bathing. They hauled drinking water from the fire house in Socorro. Gasoline and diesel was purchased from the Standard bulk plant in Socorro.

According to Davis, they established a post office box, number 632, in Socorro so getting their mail was more convenient. The trips into town also offered them the chance to get their hair cut in a real barbershop. If they didn't use the shop, Sgt. Greyshock used horse clippers to trim their hair.

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