January 6, 2004 by

Cresson Kearny

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Categories: Medicine, Writers/Editors

If you wanted to know how to survive a nuclear war, all you had to do was ask Cresson H. Kearny. He wrote the book on it.
An expert on jungle warfare, Kearny penned the best-selling text, “Nuclear War Survival Skills,” in 1979. The book included instructions on how to build a fallout shelter and a homemade radiation meter. In 1987, it was updated and expanded to include a foreword by Edward Teller, the father of the H-bomb.
Kearny graduated from Princeton University with a degree in civil engineering, and attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He took a job with the Standard Oil Company of Venezuela after graduation, and conducted geological exploration work deep in the jungles of South America and Southeast Asia. In the 1940s, Kearny was assigned to Panama as the jungle experiment officer of the Panama Mobile Force. There he tested the military’s specialized equipment for use in combat.
After he returned to the states, Kearny worked as a research analyst at the Hudson Institute. He later joined the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where he designed do-it-yourself shelters, and edited a translation of the most comprehensive Soviet handbook on civil defense.
During the Vietnam War, Kearney again tested the military’s combat equipment for jungle readiness. In 1972, he received the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service from the U.S. Army.
Kearny died on Dec. 18. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.

One Response to Cresson Kearny

  1. Arnold Jagt

    Through my association with Dr. Art Robinson I have come into contact with men of great character and integrity. Among them are Arnold Hunsberger, Edward Teller, and Cresson Kearny.
    I volunteered my services (my first foray into digitizing and publishing books) to Art Robinson in 1989 and our first project was Nuclear War Survival Skills. The results of this effort live on today at http://www.oism.org/nwss. Most recently we have digitized the companion video series at http://www.homelandcivildefense.org featuring Cresson on hours of film as he works with volunteers to build the expedient shelters found in the book.
    He was first of all concerned with expediency and with testing. He would only put his name on something that he knew worked and that would be of use by ordinary people without specialized equipment.
    The effects of the polio that periodically impacted his health never made him disabled in the least. He strove to be productive as long as he was conscious. His life was full of purpose; our survival, should the worst come to pass.
    He was the best of the high quality breed of men that this country was still able to produce in the first half of the 20th century. He exhibited honesty of character, a deep concern for the welfare of the American people, and a realism about the what we can count on from the civil government when it came to civil defense (nothing).
    Being around Cresson drew out the best in me, and of others around him I am sure. I felt that a piece of me had died when he did.

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