SALUTE OUR TROOPS | Frank La Bella witnessed the world's first hydrogen bomb test

Hydrogen Bomb Test

Every month we like to salute our troops by recognizing individuals in our community who go the extra mile to make our community great.

Our nominee this time is Frank La Bella, who served in the U.S. Army.

It was the early 50's, the country was at war with Korea, and Frank, a Las Vegas Resident, was assigned to one of the most unique, and potentially dangerous deployments in the history of the U.S. military.

At 89 years young, Frank still cherishes the memories of time served overseas.

In 1952, after graduating from the University of Miami, Frank was recruited into the U.S. Army.

A general by the name of Eisenhower would soon become president, and with the country at war, Frank would receive a very special assignment on the Marshall Islands -- specifically the island of Eniwetok.

Frank had been assigned to the same island where dozens of nuclear bombs were being tested offshore by a U.S. military joint task force.

In fact, he was present for the first ever testing of a hydrogen bomb, codenamed "Ivy Mike.”

“Everything, it doesn't make a bit of difference what it is, everything turns red. So, if you know there's red radiation coming toward you, you better run,” said Frank.

Even though they wore goggles and special clothing during testing, Frank knew there was potential for exposure. Still, he and his fellow servicemen knew their job was especially important. Today, he's still proud.

“We took him to the Atomic Museum when we first moved here, and he just went around telling everybody his story,” said Danielle Striker, Frank’s daughter. “And he'll tell pretty much anyone who wants to hear about the testing of the hydrogen bomb.”

For the past 65 years, frank has lived with traces of radiation in his body -- but thankfully no illnesses.

We asked Frank if he would do it again.

"Oh yah, sure," was Frank’s reply.

We're definitely fortunate to have Frank here in Las Vegas.

If you know a military member who goes above and beyond in our community, active or veteran, click here to submit a nomination.

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