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Posted November 21st, 2011
Article Concerning Fred Milverstedt by Doug Moe

What a hydrogen bomb explosion looks like
Fred Milverstedt recalls July 9, 1962
Doug Moe
Posted: Nov 20, 2017 06:00 AM CST

Fred Milverstedt

Last week, the New York Times editorialized on the bluster between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, noting that President Trump "is engaged in a dangerous game of chicken with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, who has kept up his own steady stream of bombastic insults against Mr. Trump and threatened attacks on the United States."

Back in September, the North Korean foreign minister suggested his country might detonate a thermonuclear bomb, saying, "This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean."

Amid all this, I decided I should talk to an old friend, who, as he once put it, is "among the few folks on earth who have ever witnessed the detonation of a hydrogen bomb."

His is a name that will resonate with longtime Madison residents.

Fred Milverstedt grew up in Madison and, for a run of several years in the 1970s, wrote an idiosyncratic and entertaining sports column in The Capital Times.

When he left the newspaper, Milverstedt in 1976 partnered with Vince O’Hern and founded Isthmus, the Madison weekly that endures today.

Fred for many years has lived outside Minneapolis, in Plymouth. He made a triumphant return to Madison in 2013 for some events associated with the publication of his memoir, "One More Ride."

The memoir includes a brief mention—just a few paragraphs—of Milverstedt's witnessing the thermonuclear bomb, which happened while he was serving in the U.S. Navy in summer 1962.

But what Fred wrote is powerful:

"However trite it might read or sound, it was like seeing God. It was so immense, so brilliant in its terrible power, that nothing else that's ever happened to me in my life has been by comparison any big thing."

I phoned Fred last week and asked if he might expand on his memory of the blast and the circumstances surrounding it, and he agreed.

Summer 1962 was the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Having enlisted in the Navy, Milverstedt was then serving aboard the USS Iwo Jima, an amphibious assault craft that was dispatched to the South-Central Pacific that spring to assist with Operation Dominic, a U.S. effort to gauge the effect of detonating nukes in space.

On July 9, 1962, the U.S. was preparing to launch a Thor missile with a nuclear warhead from Johnston Atoll, 940 miles southwest of Hawaii. "Our role," Milverstedt told me, "was to evacuate personnel from the atoll prior to the launch."

The launch was scheduled for 11:00 that night.

"They let us all hang out on the flight deck," Milverstedt said. His ship sat a few hundred yards off shore. "We had goggles we were supposed to wear. They provided us with roentgen counters [to measure radiation]. We each wore one on our belt."

According to a 2012 Discover magazine story on the 50th anniversary of the launch, the missile carrying the warhead launched and reached a height of 660 miles, then began descending.

"We were supposed to sit there with our heads down, which we did," Milverstedt said.

When the missile had descended to a height of 240 miles, the 1.4 megaton nuclear warhead was detonated.

"It was about 10 minutes from the launch until it detonated," Milverstedt said.

At that moment, he recalled, "There was a heat sensation, very temporary. Poof! Then we were able to look up. It was, initially, brighter than the sun, through the goggles. It was everywhere you looked. That light faded fairly quickly, then there were these bands of color, every color in the spectrum, flashing back toward us in the sky. That probably lasted 20 minutes." According to the Discover story, the blast created "a brief but extremely powerful magnetic field" called an electromagnetic pulse, so strong that it blew out hundreds of streetlights in Hawaii, nearly 1,000 miles away. Satellites failed, airplanes registered electrical surges. "The overall effect," Discover noted, "shocked scientists and engineers."

It had a lasting impact on anyone who saw it. Milverstedt said that years later an officer on the Iwo Jima wrote about it and said everyone agreed it was the highlight of their military career.

Fred wasn't sure "highlight" was the right word, but he knew what the man meant. The immensity, the power, the scientific knowledge that made it possible.

"And the end result is the total destruction of everything around it," Milverstedt said.

Still, it hasn't cost him sleep. "It's so big there's no sense worrying about it."

I asked about the roentgen counters, and whether his had registered any radiation.

He laughed. "Probably just enough to make me a sportswriter."

Doug Moe is a Madison writer. Read his monthly column, Person of Interest, in Madison Magazine.

Posted November 12th, 2017

Email from Fred Milverstedt Memorializing Jim Strand
dated November 11th, 2017

I learned yesterday that Jim Strand has passed. It came as a surprise, as often these things do. I'd last seen him only a month ago, and though working through a bout of sciatica, walking with a cane, he was in his usual good spirits. Jim was an interesting man, but perhaps more than that, he was interested. A good listener, measured in response, willing to let somebody else expound a bit on life and its philosophies long enough to let the merits of the subject sink in, even if he didn't agree. That's hard to find in folks these days and is to be lauded. Good for you, Jim.

There's a small group of Regents who over the years have come to live in and around the Twin Cities. Jim was the first I know who recognized that and made efforts to bring us together. We've seen Bonnie Isabella, Pam Grassman, Sandy Nelson (single names, respectively), and with Joe Schmitz, and more recently Roger Sweet and Tom Stockton, we've tried to meet two or three times a year for lunch, usually at a deli that Jim favored over on the Hopkins Crossroad. Both Jim and Joe were very supportive during my surgeries and recovery last summer and I am greatly appreciative.

--Fred Milverstedt

james-strand james-strand

Posted August 07th, 2017

Email concerning Fred Milverstedt
dated August 06th, 2017

Fred Milverstedt turned 75 on August 1st, 2017 following
two weeks at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center undergoing
successful open heart surgery.

Posted August 12th, 2015

Friends of Bill Platz - Celebration of Life on Aug. 13, 2015

WAUNAKEE - William Thomas Platz, age 73, died in hospice at the Madison Veterans Hospital, Sunday, May 17, 2015. Friends may gather with family at HOYT PARK SHELTER, Madison, on Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to celebrate his life.


Bill's Obituary

The following is from the Celebration of Life Event honoring Bill (Willie) Platz on Aug. 13, 2015

In the first video below Dennis Hughes is performing "Who Will Sing For Me?" in honor of Bill (Willie) Platz. In the second video Bill's sister, Connie, reads a letter of remembrance from Ray Schaeffer. And in the third video Bob Lyons recalls an interesting trip to Wisconsin Dells with Bill. Use the controllers below each video to pause and play the videos. If you do not have QuickTime Player installed on your computer, you can download it FREE for PC or Mac by clicking the QuickTime Logo below. The videos are larger files so give them time to download.



Posted August 14th, 2014

Madison West legend Roger Wiebe dies at 74

Read more:

Roger Wiebe

Posted June 16th, 2013

Congratulations Daryl and Dawn and Kate

Dawn and Daryl Lund

Posted June 7th, 2013
Fred Milverstedt's new book, One More Ride--Fred and the Craft of Motorcycle Meditations
to be released June 27th in Madison.

Fred Milverstedt writes saying, "The release date for his new book is June 27th, 2013 with a book signing party in Madison at the One Barrel Brewery Company, 2001 Atwood Avenue at Schenk's Corners from 4-8 p.m." Phil Davis and the Stone Prairie Band will be performing.

The Kindle edition will be out Monday, June 10th, 2013.

One Barrel Brewing Company
2001 Atwood Ave, Madison, Wisconsin ‎53704
Phone: (608) 630-9286


Look below at the December 14th, 2012 posting for more information and photographs.

Posted December 24th, 2012

Gail Askey wrote saying, "Reeanne Finnegan's picture is in today's paper she was 2 years old sitting on Santa's lap".

photo from 1944

Posted December 14th, 2012
Freddie Milverstedt writes concerning the release date of his new book.

The release date has been postponed until May.

As a novelist friend has told me, "Publishers are like vintners. For some reason they think manuscripts must age."

Elaine suggests I inform you as a note for our class page.

Meanwhile, here's the cover, although the sub-title still is subject to change.

Image of Book Cover

Posted August 29th, 2012
Freddie Milverstedt writes:

Here's newz.

I've written a book, "One More Ride," about my motorcycle experiences, "adventures" as some might perceive, circa 1965 to the present. It will be released in print and digitally in early 2013, published by August Publications, formerly of Minnetonka, MN, and now based in Middleton, WI.

This is not a "how to" book or a politically correct and prudent guide to safe motorcycling. Rather, it is sort of a memoir, or "journey" as my publisher likes to put it, in which through experiences gleaned as I biker I come to certain realizations, truths and the occasional epiphany that life on an engine, two wheels and the highways and bi-ways is fraught with risk, danger and a good dose of fatalistic humor. Turning 70 next week, among my hard-won conclusions is that life on the road in America today is "no country for old men."


The book will be released in time for Christmas. In addition to print, it will be available on e-book via Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. A promo tour will begin in the spring.

Fred Milverstedt

A picture of gramps (Freddie), Sam (first grandson), and Brunhilde (the bike).

Posted November 7th, 2011
A tribute to Conrad (Jerry) Stein on the occasion of his 70th Birthday
as it appeared on page 12 of the Celebrations Section of the Sunday, November 6th, 2011
edition of the Wisconsin State Journal.
- Congratulations Jerry -


Posted May 7th, 2011
Article on James Hodgson by Paul Srubas
of the Green Bay Press-Gazette reprinted in the Wisconsin State Journal

jim-photo WSJ article

Posted April 19th, 2011
Article on Fred Milverstedt by Doug Moe
from the Wisconsin State Journal

WSJ article by Moe on Fred Milverstedt

Posted November 14th, 2010
Kenneth Callaway King Jr. Obituary

Classmate Jim Strand writes, "I just came across something that we may wish to add to our web site. Ken, aka KC, did not graduate with us, but those of us that came the Randall route remember him and would be interested in the obituary that gives a fair synopsis of his adult life." Jim also adds, "Ken aka KC went through Randall, West Junior and at least 9th grade and possibly 10th grade with us."

Ken Callaway Kenneth Callaway King Jr., 68, of Roanoke and Charlottesville, Virginia, died on Sunday, September 12, 2010, in Charlottesville.

He was born on February 17, 1942, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the son of the late Kenneth Callaway King Sr. and Annetta Brown King. He was also predeceased by two sisters, Ann King Hough of Wisconsin and Roberta King Chadwick of Oregon.

Kenneth practiced law in Roanoke for 38 years, served as a substitute judge for the Virginia 23rd Judicial District, General District Court, and was president of King Law Group. He was a graduate of Riverside Military Academy, Lawrence College and the University of Minnesota Law School.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Martha Richardson King of Charlottesville, Virginia; a son, Robert Wilson King and his wife, Whitney Walter King, of Richmond, Virginia; a daughter, Juliet King Daum and her husband, Clay Philipp Daum, of Charlottesville, Virginia; and his five beloved grandchildren, Henry Callaway Daum, Charlotte Page Daum, Griffin McAfee King, Alexandra Elizabeth King and William Tazewell King.

A retired United States Air Force Major, Kenneth had a lifelong passion for aviation and was a distinguished graduate of the United States Air Force flight school at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma. He served honorably as a B-52 H Stratofortress pilot in Vietnam with the United States Strategic Air Command of Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

A member of the Order of the First Families of Virginia, Kenneth served as Honorary President for Life. He was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and served as State President of the organization.

He was a founder and former president of the Commonwealth Games of Virginia, a longtime board member and past president of the Virginia Special Olympics, a member of the Roanoke and Virginia State Bar Associations, and past president of the Roanoke Valley Estate Planning Council.

Funeral services will be held at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Fincastle, Virginia, 11 a.m. Thursday, September 16, 2010. A reception will follow.

Private burial services will be held for the family at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Ivy, Virginia.

Memorial contributions may be made to American Red Cross, Central Virginia Chapter, 1105 Rose Hill Drive, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 or Virginia Amateur Sports, 711-C 5th Street Northeast, Roanoke, Virginia 24016.

Posted July 26th, 2010
Ash Street Under Construction

While the Ash Street Entrance to West High School is looking wonderful, Ash Street itself is totally torn up and receiving complete renovation. Therefore, if you are planning to view the renewed Ash Street Entrance be prepared to park a couple of blocks away. The Construction is scheduled for completion at the end of August 2010.

Ash St. construction Ash St. construction Ash St. construction Ash St. construction

Posted May 2nd, 2010
The young Grandsons of Madison West Class of 1960 classmates
are quite the fisherman.

These young men are the grandsons of Harriet and R. Dan Nelson and Joni and Jerry Stein. Harriet, R. Dan and Jerry are all West High Graduates, Class of 1960. Harriet and R. Dan's first born son Dan, and Joni and Jerry's first born daughter, Sharel, got married and their first born is Conrad and second born is Riley and let's not leave out third born, granddaughter Clara.

Yesterday, son Dan, took Connie and Riley fishing on opening day and emailed us this communication upon their return home:

May 1, 2010

Opening day of fishing in Madison, WI. After 8 hours on the water and a successful day of fishing Conrad and Riley Nelson caught this 44" Musky off the dock while their dad (Dan) was bringing the trailer to take the boat out. A crowd that had gathered in line, for take out, broke into applause as the boys brought the fish to the dock. Nice job boys! The best opening day ever!


End of email.

Son Dan explained later that Riley jumped into action by grabbing the net out of the boat and assisted his brother in landing this 44" Musky by netting it. They are both doing well and so are the proud, collective, parents and grandparents. After the photos were taken the Musky was released.

Image of fish Image of fish Image of fish Image of fish

The Madison area may be a very busy place August 7th, & 8th, 2010 with its first Centurion Cycle Race starting and finishing in Middleton, WI. Organizers expect between 2,000 and 3,000 cyclists to participate in the first year and up to 8,000 in future years.

Click on the links below for more information on Centurion Cycling and the August 7th, & 8th events.

Image of cyclists Centurion Cycling set for Dane County August 7th & 8th.
Tour de Dane? Massive Euro-style bike race slated for August.
Some fear woes from big race.
Madison draws Gran Fondo bike racing..
Centurion Cycling
Centurion Wisconsin Newsletter.


Marvin Marks

Marks, Marvin
This note from Jeff Hansen dated April 11, 2010:

I just received a phone call from some guy named Tim Dresen, who advised me that Marv Marks had passed away early this afternoon.

Tim was calling all of the numbers on Marv's cell phone. He said that Marv had been hospitalized for about two weeks with a lung infection, that lead to other complications, a heart attack, and his vital organs shut down today.

When and if I get more info, I will advise!


Then this followup on April 13, 2010:

This afternoon, I spoke with Tim Dresen, the man who called me last Sunday about Marvin's death. He mentioned that there will be a funeral service for Marvin at:

Cress Funeral Home
University Ave. (Middleton)
Saturday , April 17th
3:30 to 6:30

After the service, friends will gather for a time at the Mid - Town Pub, Allen Blvd in Middleton.


Marv's Obituary

Comments by Jean Dudley Bass from the Wisconsin State Journal, Sunday, March 28th 2010.

Click here to view the article entitled, Jean Bass: Health care reform good for small business

Interesting article in St. Norbert's February 2010 e-newsletter concerning Jim Hodgson (Madison West Class of 1960) and family.

Click here to view article entitled, "Cumulative research helps build family of scholarship".

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From Wisconsin State Journal, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010
Barnes, Leo F.
Leo F. Barnes, age 86, of Madison passed away peacefully on Friday, January 29, 2010. A native of Hay Springs, Neb., Barnes served in the Navy during World War II and attended UW-Madison after the war, earning a bachelor's degree in 1947 and a master's degree in 1949. He became a teacher in 1948 and later a guidance counselor at Madison West High where he worked until he retired. He is survived by his wife, Janet; and daughter, Joan. A short Memorial service will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010, at 10 a.m. at Coventry Village Retirement Community, Brookline Apartments activity room, 7707 N. Brookline Drive, in Madison. In lieu of plants and flowers, please make a donation to your favorite charity.
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