Early Life and Testing Atomic Bombs at Bikini Atoll

Bikini Atoll Bomb Tests and Postwar Life


Maurice Joseph Dugas, Sr. was born in September 1928 in New Orleans, Louisiana. His father worked at the Roosevelt Hotel to support his family during the Great Depression. Dugas was in high school when he enlisted in the Navy at age 17. He was sent to San Diego, California for his boot training camp. He recalled waking up in the middle of the night to go march all day. By the end of boot camp, he was assigned as a machinist mate and electrician. He joined the crew of the USS Albermarle (AV-5). While on board, their main task was testing atomic bombs. They would set them off underwater, on top of the water, and up in the air. Dugas took care of all the electrical work on the ship and with the bombs. Dugas recalls going into the areas after detonation to check out the damage. The military did not give them any special clothing to wear. He also witnessed the detonation of the bombs and he was in awe of how powerful they were. They did most of their testing at Bikini Atoll [Annotator's Note: Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands]. He recalled that many of the old ships that were in the test area would fly and land in the lagoon. He remembered being told not to talk about the atomic bombs. Dugas stayed with the Navy for two years. He was discharged in California and returned home to New Orleans. Dugas enjoyed being in the Navy and believes it gave him opportunities that he may have not had if he had not joined. After leaving the Navy, he worked in a shipyard and enjoyed his work.


Maurice Joseph Dugas, Sr. was a machinist mate and electrician on the USS Albermarle (AV-5). Their mission was to test atomic bombs off Bikini Atoll [Annotator's Note: Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands]. Dugas gave the Navy everything he had. After he returned home, he went to school on the G.I Bill for refrigeration and air conditioning and made a wonderful life. He believed that the United States had no choice but to be involved in World War 2. Dugas believes that its important to have institution like The National WWII Museum. He is glad that he did his share and took part in the war effort. He enjoyed his stay in the Navy. He recalled the captain had a sea plane on the ship. Sometimes Dugas would take rides with him. They would fly over the Marshall Islands. He recalled that detonating the atomic bombs at sea was all experimental and they had no idea what to expect. He recalled the large amount of surge. He remembers a ship flying up in the air after watching the atomic bomb going off. Planes that were controlled by remote would be destroyed too. Dugas recalled having leave on Pearl Harbor, but he also had to do shore duty patrol.

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