It was the end of my first deployment, and we had a certain number of materials that we needed to get rid of — among those materials were several types of explosives. We built a charge (an explosive) that would undoubtedly take care of every last piece of those materials, and we walked back two or three times the calculated necessary safe distance. The remote area in Afghanistan was relatively flat, and though the explosives were tucked behind a small, distant berm, we would have a full view of the explosion and its after-effects.

As it detonated, a blast wave ripped past us, carrying dust with it as it trembled across the Afghan desert. I had seen quite a few explosions before, but most of them were at night, or at least somewhere with limited visibility (among buildings, in the trees, etc). My teeth had been rattled a couple of times before, but this was the first time I had sat in clear view of a very obvious bast wave — almost the type that you would expect to see in a movie.

Of course, it’s not quite as dramatic as the blast wave they added to the original “Star Wars” trilogy with the explosion of the death star, and it was mostly only visible because of the dust it carried, but it was still quite something to see.

The blast waves from a nuclear bomb: