- The Atomic Marines –
The Marines the Corps Couldn't Talk About
1947, Gen. Alexander Vandergrift, Commandant of the Marine Corps reorganized the
Marine Corps to prepare it to take part in an all-out atomic war. The new organization
was to provide a testing ground for new methods and weapons of amphibious warfare,
as well as continue to serve the fleet in conducting its operations. Marine Corps
Recruit Depot, San Diego was called upon to be a part of this new era.
From 1948-1956, MCRD's Sea School provided 242 graduates who participated in many
of the top-secret nuclear weapons testing operations in the Pacific including
Operation Sandstone. Greenhouse, Ivy, Castle, Wigwam, & Redwing. When the
first hydrogen bomb was detonated during Operation Castle, Sea School Marines
were there & on duty.
The Marine Detachments were all handpicked
Special Forces with expertise in top-Level security methods. The members of these
highly trained security forces held top-secret "Q" clearances at the
same level as the President of the United States. They were sworn to complete
secrecy in accordance with the Rosenberg Act. Their primary duty was to transport
and guard the nation’s secret arsenal of atom and hydrogen test bombs. These
"top secret" Marines were stationed aboard the "ghost" ship.
USS Curtiss AV-4, a ship that didn't officially exist. It was never listed in
any newspaper columns reporting standard ship's activities. It refueled at sea
and stayed out of regular ports when on a mission.
the men in these special units were WWII and Korean War veterans. One of their
members, SSgt Ambrosio Guillen, was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal
of Honor in 1953. Many others went on to become decorated Vietnam veterans.
plaque that bears these words is from the Seagoing/Curtiss Atomic Marine display.
Located at the MCRD
Command Museum in San Diego, Ca.
are the Curtiss Atomic Marines?
America's Secret Atomic
Marines - Special Security Forces 1948 - 1957, Nuclear Weapons Testing - 8 Operations
- 33 A-bomb, H-bomb Tests at Bikini Atoll, Enewetak, Pacific Ocean, who served
aboard the USS Curtiss A V-4 the (Ghost Ship).
We band together
after 50 years as Marines who shared in a unique and turbulent part of the American
history. The testing of nuclear weapons on operations, Sandstone, Greenhouse,
Ivy, Castle, Wigwam, and Redwing. The detachment has established a fund in which
monies are used for preserving the Curtiss Marine legacy in the way of Memorials,
Museum Contributions and Reunion Support. We are not an official organization
in regard to non-profit or tax-exempt status. We do not participate in politics
nor do we wear any rank at our reunions or social events. There is not a defined
board of directors; individuals volunteer their time on an as needed basis. We
gather several times a year to renew old friendships, forge new friendships and
share in issues that surround us today as a result of our service together, 50
odd years ago. We are the Curtiss Atomic Marines...