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OSU alum leaves estate to OSU engineering school


A World War II veteran who was exposed to radiation during an atomic bomb explosion has left his California estate worth more than $750,000 to the Oklahoma State University College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, school officials said.


The gift from Bernard Karen was announced Tuesday by the OSU Foundation. Karen died Nov. 11.


During his time as a U.S. Army soldier, Karen studied mechanical engineering at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels at OSU.


After earning his final degree, the Manhattan, Kan., native was transferred with the Army to different places across the country to work in rocket engineering.


He collaborated with rocket engineering giants like Wernher von Braun, who helped set the United States on the path to space exploration; worked on the design of Lockheed Martin’s smallest rocket engine; and published a famous article concerning rocketry and manned lunar flight.


During his service, Karen was part of a group of World War II soldiers who were subjected to an unprotected, surface-level atomic blast that resulted in harmful radiation exposure.


Now known as the “atomic soldiers,” the members of this group came to learn the effects of nuclear radiation on their health and their bodies. Karen suffered from illnesses ranging from cancerous skin lesions to a brain tumor and Parkinson’s Disease-like symptoms.


Karen survived the ill effects of the radiation for 60 years after his exposure.


“His view was that he helped the nation,” OSU dean Karl Reid said. “He accepted it as an unfortunate incident, but did not try to make a big case of it.”


Karen’s estate in Mission Viejo will be sold and the proceeds will be used to purchase, update and maintain quality research equipment, officials said.


Information from: The Oklahoman,

– Associated Press

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