Commodore Ben H. Wyatt addressing the Bikini Island natives


The fourth atom bomb explosion of all time occurred in July 1946 in the Pacific in an Army-Navy operation named Crossroads. It was meant to test the effect of atom bombs on naval vessels. The test site, Bikini Atoll, needed to be evacuated, and its 167 natives relocated.

On a Sunday afternoon a few months earlier, Com. Ben Wyatt, the military governor of the Marshall Islands, traveled to Bikini. He had assembled the natives to ask if they would be willing to leave the atoll temporarily so that the United States could begin testing atomic bombs for "the good of mankind and to end all wars." The people met and voted to go to Rongerik Island, as advised by the Navy. Juda, the leader of the Bikinian people, announced that they would go "believing that everything is in the hands of God."

Commodore Wyatt can be seen sitting on the base of a palm tree, addressing the population moments before they were set to leave their home. Mydans was sent to the island to document the exodus of the people of Bikini. The story was published by LIFE (Mar 25 1946).

Date Made: 1946

Photographer: Mydans, Carl

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: Marshall Islands: Bikini & Kili, Bikini Atoll

See more items in: Work and Industry: Photographic History, Photography, Carl Mydans


Exhibition Location:

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2005.0228.109Accession Number: 2005.0228Catalog Number: 2005.0228.109

Object Name: photograph

Physical Description: paper (overall material)Measurements: overall: 8 in x 10 in; 20.32 cm x 25.4 cm


Record Id: nmah_1303438

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