James K. Howard
Seaman 1st Class
U. S. Navy
Dates of Service: 01/14/1946 - 11/11/1947
Observed Bikini Atoll nuclear tests, USS Walke

Ken was born in Shreveport. His father was a barber while his mother ran the elevator at the Washington-Youree Hotel. Joining the U.S. Navy in January of 1946, Ken was assigned to the USS Wall where he became a radar operator. The Wall was one of some 150 naval vessels that participated in Operation Crossroads at Bikini Atoll where two atomic bombs were detonated--one from the air and the other from below the sea. Ken drove a small craft ferrying scientists from one ship to another. He recalls the Wall was seven-and-a-half miles away when the first bomb, Abel, was dropped. He didn't see the blast but felt a straight-line wind that "went over us and passed." When Baker was detonated underwater, he was two-and-a-half miles away and recalls how the blast lifted one target vessel into a vertical position before it sank. Ken left the Navy in November of 1947. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees and taught school in Nederland, Texas, and then at Shreveport's Fair Park High School. Ken joined the Texas National Guard while in Nederland, and then entered Louisiana National Guard when he moved to Shreveport. After he retired from teaching he worked at LSU Medical Center in research.