Kewaunee, Wis.(WFRV)-- The Cold war between the East and West ended just over a decade ago. But some 200,000 US servicemen became living casualties of that standoff. They were "atomic war veterans", soldiers and sailors who witnessed nuclear weapons tests.
This week's 'Hometown Hero" from Kewaunee is one of them. Local Five's Terry Kovarik has his story.
Raymond Janosky was just over the legal driving age when he joined the Army in the 1950's.
Janosky, "I was 17 and my dad had to sign for me."
Eventually, Janosky would join the 82nd Airborne Command. From there, he and his regiment were deployed to Yucca Flats, Nevada for an undisclosed mission.
Janosky, "We went to this place where they had these big trenches."
Janosky and other soldiers were then ordered into the trenches, told to cover their eyes...and wait.
Janosky, "You put your arm over them. and all of a sudden, everything turns white. You can see right through your arm."
Minutes later, the troops were ordered out of the bunkers.
Janosky, "You didn't hear nothing. And you're looking and you see this wall coming at you with garbage, rocks and stones. And here's this bomb blast going up and this stuff rolling."
Janosky and his regiment were four-miles down wind from an atomic bomb test. within half an hour, they marched toward ground zero.
Janosky, "And then two-miles away, they had trenches where they had goats and stuff there. They were just burnt - cremated there."
Janosky never saw combat in Korea. After returning home to Chicago, he married., worked for a steel company and was successfully treated for bladder cancer. He retired to Kewaunee and made a chance visit to the county veterans service office. Because he was involved in nuclear testing, Janosky and his wife were eligible for compensation, including free, lifetime health care.
Janosky, "You don't have to worry about anything, you know. if you're sick or anything like that."
Even though the cancer was determined to be related to the atomic testing, Janosky isn't bearing a grudge.
Janosky, "You live one day at a time. You make it through that day. What's next?"
Until Janosky went to talk with the county veteran's officer, some members of his own family never knew he'd been present at the Nevada test site.