"Defying odds," Cedar Falls atomic veteran celebrates 80th birth - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

"Defying odds," Cedar Falls atomic veteran celebrates 80th birthday

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CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -

A veteran shares a story many of us probably have never heard. 

80-year-old James Jacobson is an atomic veteran.

He tested nuclear bombs during the Cold War. 

Cedar Falls veteran James Jacobson says he's surprised he's alive and healthy today.

He grew up in a small town in Iowa. 

When he left for the navy back in the 1950s, it was a surprise when he was assigned to help with nuclear bomb testing during the Cold War. 

James ended up witnessing around 50 nuclear bomb tests in Nevada, The Marshall Islands, and Christmas Island. 

He says many of the tests happened early in the morning. It would be pitch dark one minute.

The next minute, a bomb would go off, and it would feel like the middle of the afternoon.

James says many of the men serving with him were exposed to a lot of radiation.

He says many of the atomic veterans who were involved with nuclear bomb testing with him, are now dead.

He wants people to realize that too often we forget the thousands involved in these tests. Many of them did not  live long enough to share their stories. 

James celebrated his 80th birthday last week with his family.

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