In the s and 70s, the world was undergoing a period known as the Cold War. There was a very real threat of a potential nuclear war following the deterioration of relations between China and the USSR referred to as the Sino-Soviet split. While there he carried out research into what would become his most famous work; a guidebook to Nuclear War Survival Skills. It focused on what would happen if the United States was affected by nuclear war, and how to survive the aftermath.
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Kearny attended Texas Military Institute in the s, where he became the commanding officer of the cadet corps, a champion runner and rifle shot, and valedictorian of his class. He attended Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania before earning a degree in civil engineering at Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude in He won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to earn two degrees in geology at the University of Oxford.
During the Sudeten Crisis he acted as a courier for an underground group helping anti-Nazis escape from Czechoslovakia.
He then worked as an exploration geologist for Standard Oil in the Orinoco jungles of Venezuela, where he became familiar with equipment and tools of the native inhabitants of the region. He later used the information gained from this experience to develop specialized jungle equipment for U. In , Kearny went on active duty as an infantry reserve lieutenant in the United States Army.
Recognized for his knowledge of jungle travel and use of specialized tools and equipment, Kearny was soon assigned to Panama as the Jungle Experiments Officer of the Panama Mobile Force, and was promoted to captain. Adoption of the jungle field ration and the jungle hammock as standard equipment by the US Army in World War II is credited to Kearny, along with improvements to many other items of tropical gear, such as the Panama-soled jungle boot and the M Machete.
In recognition of his service, he was soon promoted to major and awarded the Legion of Merit. Kearny later volunteered for duty with the Office of Strategic Services OSS , where he served as a demolition specialist in southern China in As Japanese forces threatened to overwhelm Chinese defenses in southeast China, he walked night and day to escape capture. After contracting a serious viral disease during that campaign, he was bedridden for many months and partially crippled for several years.
After a long convalescence, he retired from active duty with the U. In he took a position doing civil defense research with the Hudson Institute. In he joined the Oak Ridge National Laboratory civil defense project.
During the Vietnam War, Kearny served as a civilian adviser to the U. Army, making several trips to the theater of operations. He died in In a New York Times obituary, his daughter Stephanie commented: "Throughout his life he believed in being prepared for trouble.
It describes civil defense research to determine the methods for ordinary citizens to build effective expedient shelters in a short period of time. This book is in the public domain and is available for purchase, as well as free download online, from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. His other works include Jungle Snafus Jungle Snafus Cresson Henry Kearny, 89, of Montrose, Colo.
According to his family, he had an interesting life that included being a world authority on nuclear war survival, starting the first U. Born Jan. He was a great-grandson of Gen. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. He won two prestigious scholarships to Princeton University, where he was a varsity letterman on the track team, graduating in Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering.
Subsequently, Mr. Kearny was a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford University, where he was on the varsity track and swimming teams, graduating from Queen's College with a degree in geology in While at Oxford he briefly served as a courier to Berlin, carrying information for an underground Quaker group that helped Jews escape from the Nazis.
Post-graduation Mr. Kearny was a member of a Royal Geographic Society expedition in the Peruvian Andes, then worked as an exploration geologist for Standard Oil in Venezuela. Believing the United States soon would be at war and hoping to improve American jungle warfare capability, in he quit his job and went on active duty as a reserve first lieutenant. He was sent to Panama where he formed the first U. Jungle Platoon, developed jungle tactics, and designed specialized equipment.
Much of his equipment, for which he obtained numerous patents but refused payment, was adopted by the U. Some of his most important inventions were a breath-inflated, backpackable boat, the jungle boot, the jungle hammock and the jungle pack. During this period he was promoted to major and intermittently worked with the office of the quartermaster general's special forces in Washington, D. For meritorious service he was awarded the Legion of Merit.
In , Mr. He joined the Office of Strategic Services in , stationed in China where he worked in demolitions, guerilla tactics, sabotage and intelligence. After contracting a crippling disease at the age of 31 he retired as an honorary lieutenant colonel. Kearny and his wife bought a ranch in the Texas hill country, where his health improved. He occasionally worked elsewhere, including consulting at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where in he designed the wetsuit, which unknown to him, had been invented a few months previously.
He also independently invented and patented an underwater spear gun. In , he and his family moved to a farm in southwest Colorado. For several years Mr. Kearny, who his family said always loved dinosaurs, also came upon the largest dinosaur bone discovered to that time, which was lying unrecognized on a rockhound's porch.
The bone is now at the Smithsonian. Concerned, since his Princeton days about the possibility of nuclear war, Mr. Kearny began to work independently on nuclear survival. In , leading nuclear strategist, Herman Kahn, recruited him to join the Hudson Institute, where Kearny worked on nuclear defense issues.
Due to his expertise, he met Charles Lindbergh, whom Mr. Kearny advised on building a blast shelter. In , Nobel Laureate Dr. Eugene Wigner asked Mr. At ORNL, Kearny developed shelters and devices which people can make to improve their chances of surviving a nuclear conflict. His most important invention, according to his family, was the Kearny Fallout Meter, a highly reliable radiation meter made of materials commonly found in homes.
His book, "Nuclear War Survival Skills," which, according to his family, is known as "the bible of Civil Defense," includes instructions and survival advice. By the mids over , copies had been sold, with translations into Hebrew, Chinese and other languages. Kearny copyrighted the book with the condition that the book could be reproduced by anyone and renounced any royalty payments. The book is available on the Internet. He also wrote numerous publications on a variety of defense topics.
Kearny took occasional leave to work on other projects. From to , given the civilian equivalent of a four-star general's rank, he worked in Vietnam with the science adviser to Gen. He also developed simple measures to counteract fuel-air explosives and was an expert on counterinsurgency. At a Defense Advance Research Project Agency Symposium in , the director stated in his opening address that he "had not specialized in counterinsurgency work, but had studied the writings of leading authorities, including Mao Tse-tung, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, and Cresson Kearny.
Kearney advised the Israelis on civil defense. For his defense work, in he was awarded the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, the United States' highest civilian medal. Kearny retired from ORNL, partly to be at liberty to speak more freely against American defense policies, especially Mutual Assured Destruction, and inadequate nuclear civil defense preparations, according to his family.
In , he was invited to China to advise on civil defense. During the Gulf War, he recruited citizens across America to make hundreds of thousands of protective plastic rifle bags, which, according to his family, the military had neglected to provide and send them to soldiers to prevent sand from jamming their Ms.
In later years, Mr. Kearny summarized his jungle expertise in "Jungle Snafus -- and Remedies," which is used by units of the U. Special Forces as a training textbook. In he was presented with the Edward Teller Award for the Defense of Freedom, "for his independent and ingenious contributions to the great problem of survival. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his younger brother and only sibling, Clinton Charles Kearny, and his eldest grandchild, Morgan Kearny Fosse. His family said his intelligence, creativity, persistence and dedication to human survival were appreciated by his peers and earned the admiration and love of his family.
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Cresson Kearny, 89; Wrote Manual on Nuclear War Survival
Kearny attended Texas Military Institute in the s, where he became the commanding officer of the cadet corps, a champion runner and rifle shot, and valedictorian of his class. He attended Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania before earning a degree in civil engineering at Princeton University, graduating summa cum laude in He won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to earn two degrees in geology at the University of Oxford. During the Sudeten Crisis he acted as a courier for an underground group helping anti-Nazis escape from Czechoslovakia.
Nuclear War Survival Skills : Lifesaving Nuclear Facts and Self-Help Instructions
Kearny attended Texas Military Institute in the s, where he became the commanding officer of the cadet corps, a champion runner and rifle shot, and valedictorian of his class. He won a Rhodes Scholarship and went on to earn two degrees in geology at the University of Oxford. During the Sudeten Crisis he acted as a courier for an underground group helping anti-Nazis escape from Czechoslovakia. He then worked as an exploration geologist for Standard Oil in the Orinoco jungles of Venezuela ,  where he became familiar with equipment and tools of the native inhabitants of the region. In , Kearny went on active duty as an infantry reserve lieutenant in the United States Army. Recognized for his knowledge of jungle travel and use of specialized tools and equipment, Kearny was soon assigned to Panama as the Jungle Experiments Officer of the Panama Mobile Force, and was promoted to captain. Kearny later volunteered for duty with the Office of Strategic Services OSS , where he served as a demolition specialist in southern China in
Cresson Kearny, Expert on Nuclear Survival, Dies at 89
Cresson Kearny, an inventor and specialist in jungle warfare who wrote a best-selling manual on surviving a nuclear attack, died on Dec. He was The cause was complications of a stroke, said his daughter Stephanie Kearny, who is writing a biography of him. It includes instructions on how to build and furnish fallout shelters, complete with a do-it-yourself fallout meter, his own invention, which can be made of materials commonly found in the home. The manual includes a foreword by Edward Teller, the architect of the hydrogen bomb, as well as an admiring biographical note by Eugene P. Kearny was among the first researchers he hired. First published in by the laboratory, the book had sold more than , copies by the mid's.