This is a report filed by Major Palmer on July 18, 1945. It deals with the plans to evacuate civilians around the Trinity Site area if high concentrations of radioactive fallout drifted off the Alamogordo Bombing Range.
Evacuation Detachment at Trinity
Detachment, Equipment, Personnel, Organization, Base Operations.
A. Equipment and Personnel.
This detachment consisted of 140 enlisted men, 4 officers, 140 vehicles, including one 500 gallon improvised water tank for drinking purposes, 2 lister bags, latrine flies, 30 pyramidal tents, 1000 type "C" and "K" rations, coffee, sugar, milk, and three field ranges.
The detachment was formed into four platoons of nine vehicles each. The first and second platoons made up the first section under the Command of Captain Huene. The third and fourth platoons made up the second section under the Command of First Lieutenant M. Miller. Each vehicle had a driver and two men; three jeeps, under the direct supervision of the detachment Commander to act as messengers; one two-way radio vehicle.
C. Operating Base.
The detachment moved into its bivouac area 14 July. For security reasons this area was 4O miles from Trinity; the detachment remained there until the morning of 15 July, then moved to a semi-permanent Base Camp, with an alternate base site Selected. The Base Camp was set-up as a company; latrine dry flies put up; lister bags hung, and field ranges set up. The rest of the day and night was spent in briefing the men and having the section leaders and drivers familiarize themselves with the roads and dwellings in their assigned sections, and visiting Trinity headquarters for instructions. The Base Camp was approximately nine miles from Zero. The detachment Commander returned to Base Camp from Trinity around Mid night 15 July with last minute instructions. Major Miller was assigned the radio vehicle and put in Command of the Base Camp. The detachment was alerted in case the wind shifted in that direction, so it could move quickly to the alternate site.
The orders received by the detachment Commander from General Farrell were generally as follows:
1. The two prepared press releases were made known to the detachment Commander. One in case of no evacuation, which stated briefly that an ammunition dump had blown up; and one in case of evacuation, which stated that an ammunition dump had blown up which contained gas shells and the people would be evacuated for 24 hours to protect them from the gas.
2. The detachment Commander would work with Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Herschfelter, with their crew of monitors, and was to evacuate upon Mr. Hoffman´s request.
The detachment Commander planned, in case of evacuation, to set-up the Base Camp as a shelter for the people; tents and shelters would be provided to cover and feed 450 people for two days. This was ample shelter for the small population centers that were close enough to be in immediate danger. The larger centers were some distance away and there was ample time to transport them to Alamogordo Air Field and house them in barracks. In cases of one or two families, it was planned to send them to a hotel in a near-by town.
The area in the vicinity of the shot was divided into sections and each section leader was responsible for his section, with additional help if needed.
A jeep was assigned to Trinity headquarters, Major Miller at Base Camp, and to the detachment Commander during the operation, to supplement radio communications.
Immediately after the shot, the wind drift was ascertained to be sure the Base Camp was not in danger. Monitors were immediately sent out in the direction of the cloud drift to check the approximate width and degree of contamination of the area under the cloud. A small headquarters was set-up at Bingham, near the center of the area in the most immediate danger. The monitors worked in a wide area from this base reporting in to Mr. Hoffman or Mr. Herschfelter. One re-enforced platoon, under Captain Huene, was held at Bingham; the rest of the detachment was held in reserve at Base Camp. Fortunately no evacuations had to be made.
Mr. Hoffman released the detachment about 1300 hours 16 July; by that time, any danger of serious contamination had passed.
The detachment Commander would like to take this time to say that the Officers and men of the detachment were alert, obedient, and conducted themselves in a superior manner throughout the experiment.
T.O. PALMER, JR.