Hardtack 1 set a frenetic pace for Task Force 7.3. Between April 28 and August 18 of 1958 they conducted 35 tests, or a test about every three days. Everything was on a rush-rush basis, since the Department of Defense had a whole arsenal of new weapons to get tested before the freeze set in. The Air Force wanted to see what kind of potential the Mark 39 had for killing enemy satellites. They built a launching area for Redstone rockets on the east end of Johnston Island. It was a congested area. Close to the launcher were barracks and the mess hall for air force personnel, the Military Air Transfer Service (MATS) depot, and the Coast Guard base on Sand Island. Soon there would be three launchers on the island firing nuclear-armed rockets almost straight up over people’s heads. What went up would sometimes come back down. When the testing program came to Johnston Island in 1958 it was an escalation of hazards to the people involved in atomic testing. General Starbird, who was in charge of Task Force 7.3 didn’t particularly want to test there, but he was following the orders he got from Washington. On Johnston Island there was a minimum of stand-off distance from detonation. Weapons were detonated almost directly over an island inhabited by American servicemen and civilian technicians living in tents and quonset huts and an old underground hospital built in World War Two. Steel girders had to be used to reinforce the ceilings of trailers used for monitoring because when they would be firing Thors, they would follow them up with a volley of Nike Hercules rockets that would fly through its blast field collecting and transmitting data before they fell back to earth with a crash.
The nuclear age arrived with a big bang at tiny Johnston Island. TEAK was fired on August 1, 1958. 3.6 megatons. It was supposed to detonate about six miles south of the island, but due to a programming failure it burst directly over the island at the desired elevation making the island the effective ground zero. This brought the explosion 2,000 feet (approximately 2/5ths of a mile) nearer than intended to the launch site control and analysis crews. It was close enough and intense enough to temporarily blind 6 people standing outside the control shelter. Anyone looking directly towards the detonation would have received retinal burns to the eyes at ground zero. The safe distance for watching the Teak fireball without goggles was 725 kilometers. It was the first of many events that put servicemen stationed on or near Johnston Island in the bull’s-eye, or very close to it. Ogle considered the Redstone shots as failures because  Neither detonated where they were supposed to, cameras were pointed in the wrong direction, and cloud cover prevented good pictures of the fireball. Starbird petitioned Albuquerque for permission to do them over. Permission denied. Albuquerque and Livermore were happy with the magnitude of TEAK’s impact inside the Van Allen belt.
TEAK burst at 27 miles of altitude, and it blanked out communications in the eastern Pacific region. The communications blackout lasted 9 hours in Australia and at least 2 hours in Hawaii. An air force man watching the horizon from his home in Hawaii thought that maybe Russia had attacked them.
“ I just thought it was Honolulu or Pearl Harbor (going up in smoke) and I was dead.”
At the Pentagon, hour after hour passed with no word from Johnston Island regarding the test. At their headquarters at the Defense Atomic Support Agency (formerly AFSWP) , Admiral Parker grew concerned for the personnel on Johnston Island as hour after hour passed with no word regarding the test. Finally, some eight hours after TEAK had occurred, the word came that all was well. One of the first radio messages received at Johnston Island once communications were restored was a panicky sounding transmission. “Are you still there?” 
During the evening of August 11, ORANGE, another Redstone carrying a 3.8 megaton warhead was launched. When the Redstone reached 125,000 feet, the fire signal was sent to the missile with no apparent response. Someone had failed to throw a safety switch once the missile had enough altitude to clear the island’s safety zone. Technicians discovered and corrected the error. The Redstone reached 141,000 feet before detonating. Its lower burst altitude meant less trouble with the ionosphere, but they had to fireproof a lot of the structures on the island before the shot and get everyone inside. Many of the thousands of birds that made their home on Sand Island were impacted by the flash. Herman Hoerlin, a scientist with Las Alamos, made the following observation in his 1987 study of the impact of the high altitude testing
“In the case of Teak, we expected a maximum dose of 1 cal cm’ on JI and on the adjacent bird refuge on Sand Island. No thermal damage was expected. However, after the event, we observed quite a few birds sitting or hopping on JI docks in a helpless manner. Either they had been blinded or they were unable to dive for fish, their major food supply, because the ethereal oils which protect their feathers from getting water-soaked had been boiled off by the thermal pulse. “
The test left them a plane full of blind bunnies and a lot of grounded seabirds.
 Ogle, page 368
http://www.fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/docs1/00322994.pdf U.S. High Altitude Test Experiences, Herman Hoerlin, LASL monograph,