It is incredible to see soldiers so close to such a powerful and toxic nuclear blast in this footage from training exercises at Camp Desert Rock, Nevada, in 1959. The clips show the men getting down into trenches which would have helped prevent them from being physically blown down, but did nothing to keep them from being exposed yo significant amounts of radiation.
These tests were so often handled in ways we would never today attempt. Civilians would ride out to the desert during their vacations to be seated directly in front of a nuclear blast as entertainment. And there is a reason why the tourists flocked there and why the soldiers seem to go go still when the bomb goes off: there is something truly awe inspiring, albeit horrifying, about seeing an atomic bomb be detonated.
Seeing the men play cards or read comic books while waiting for the action to happen is a bittersweet reminder of how young so many of them were. Have a look in this footage from the U.S. Army from 1959.