Raising the American flag in Rongerik

When World War II ended, President Truman authorized joint U.S. Army-Navy nuclear weapons tests to determine the effect of atomic bombs on American warships. The Bikini Atoll was chosen to be the new nuclear proving ground for operation Crossroads because of its location away from regular air and sea routes. Mydans was sent to the island to document the exodus of the people of Bikini. The story was published by LIFE (Mar 25, 1946).
In March 1946, to make way for nuclear testing, the Bikinians were sent 125 miles eastward across the ocean on a U.S. navy landing craft to the uninhabited, sparsely vegetated Rongerik Atoll. Although the new island was slightly larger than Bikini and had more trees, the natives soon discovered that the trees produced few fruits. Within two months of their arrival, they began to beg U.S. officials to move them back to Bikini.
One year after being relocated, the military governor appointed an investigation board to look into the Bikinians plight. In a meeting with the people it was reported that there was insufficient food, fresh water supplies were low, and the atoll had only one brackish well. Within two years, the Bikinians were starving and had to be relocated once more.
Currently not on view
Date made
Mydans, Carl
place made
Marshall Islands: Ralik Chain, Rongerik
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
overall: 11 in x 14 in; 27.94 cm x 35.56 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Carl Mydans
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object