Where and when did the United States drop hydrogen bombs on Europe, and why is it important now?

Answer: January 17, 1966 – Palomares, Spain

  • Background: On Jan. 17, 1966, a U.S. B-52 bomber and a refueling plane crashed into each other during a refueling operation near the southern Spanish village of Palomares, killing seven of 11 crew members but no one on the ground. At the time, the U.S. was keeping nuclear-armed warplanes in the air near the Soviet border as the Cold War was in full swing. The midair collision resulted in the release of four U.S. hydrogen bombs. None of the bombs exploded, but the plutonium-filled detonators on two went off, scattering 7 pounds (3 kilograms) of highly radioactive plutonium 239 across the landscape. – Military Times 
  • Reaction: The United States sent 1,600 servicemen to the crash site to recover the weapons and clean up the contamination. - History 
  • Why is this important now? Veterans who say they responded to a the accident became ill from radiation exposure. As a result, they’re seeking a class action lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. – ABC News 
  • Who’s helping? Yale Law School. Students at the Connecticut Ivy filed a request with the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on behalf of veterans who sought disability benefits from the VA but were denied. – Miami Herald

Key Quotes:

  • From the Vets: “It’s absolutely ridiculous to see how we have been treated,” he said. “We’re all hurt. We were ignored, absolutely ignored.” - Air Force veteran Victor Skaar, of Nixa, Missouri. 
  • From Washington: “These veterans were exposed to dangerous radiation while they faithfully served our nation in the cleanup of the hydrogen bomb accident,” he said in a statement. “They deserve a fair and consistent process for determining veterans benefits related to such exposure.” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut

Anything Else: 

The Yale students said they believe this is the first federal appeals court case involving Palomares veterans. – Military Times


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