Atomic Cleanup Veteran Roster Signup

Cactus Crater

We are but a few of the Survivors of the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission in the Marshall Islands.

Our main focus is to help each other with information and moral support during challenging times of our declining health.

Our secondary focus is to urge Congress to change the current laws and recognize soldiers of the cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

The growth of the internet has allowed people scattered all over the world to connect with a few simple commands on our internet enabled devices.

Enewetak Soldiers, Lojwa Animals and Runit Rats have reconnected on Facebook and Blogs and other Internet based communities ever since they started appearing on the internet.

We had a mission. We bonded. We did our jobs. We served. Now our country seems to have abandoned us as though they never knew our names.

Our names were entombed in the Cactus Crater, but seemingly no where else. One by One, we can recreate our list of Atomic Cleanup Participants by filling out the survey below.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember some info or do not have much time to fill out your information. You can go back and add or edit your information at a later date if you so desire.

After you have submitted your information, please share this page with other Atomic Cleanup Veterans so they may add their names along with those we have already found.

The information you submit (except for email addresses) will be posted in a ROSTER of ENEWETAK ATOLL ATOMIC CLEANUP VETERANS.


We urge our supporters to encourage their politicians to create legislation which will include Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Participants in the U.S. Government’s definition of a veteran “who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

Article written by Girard Frank Bolton, III. 1977-1979 Atomic Debris Cleanup Participant with C Company and HHC S-3 (Operations) of the 84th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy) (Fwd) Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands.

102 thoughts on “Atomic Cleanup Veteran Roster Signup

  1. Hi fellow veterans, Rick Ford from ma. I was on Enewetak in 77. We stayed in tents while building the base camp for the earthmovers. Worked hard and played harder!! Couldn’t catch Lt.

  2. I am an investigative reporter with WPVI…the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia. This story is very interesting. I was wondering if anyone knows survivors/fallen friends from Pennsylvania, Delaware or South Jersey. If so….please email me at chad.pradelli@abc.com

    Thanks So much

    Chad

  3. I was on the rock july 1978 till dec 1978 it was ok do like to drink a lot but in great heath I live in up state new York boy did we drink an drink – ken hess

  4. I was just recalling the first time I visited Runit. An Air Force radiation expert and I took a boat to Runit to locate a piece of isolated plutonium that scientists had left on the island with a mapped location.

    I was given a pair of rubber boots and a pinch nose mask.

    (This was well before the radiation badges were given out)

    As soon as we set foot on the island the AF expert turned on the geiger counter. It was a rapid popping static and was exactly what I expected to hear. It sounded dangerous, but hey, I was with experts. Right?

    We crossed the island and walked West along the lagoon side towards the small point. We got about 100 yards away from the end of the island and the geiger sounded a high pitched alert. I didnt know geiger counters did that. I thought they just produced static sounds.

    Do you think there was radiation there?

    We came to a few metal fence post a couple yards away from each other with some very old flagging on them. The plutonium was in a small glass jar with an eroded lid. It was the size of a small baby food jar with a screw on lid.

    Inside this jar was a piece of, what looked like, molten lead. I didn’t know, and still dont know, if that is what plutonium looks like.

    The expert told me it wasnt dangerous and that because of the type of radiation that it put off it couldnt harm me unless i physically came into contact with it or ingested it into my system. He also told me that it couldn’t pass through the glass. So I picked it up and held it six inches from my face and stared at it thinking to myself,”wow, cool, this is plutonium.”

    And we didn’t work with radiation?

  5. I went over with the first group. It was a great adventure going to these islands a d being part of this project. I went over as a welder but wound up working with S4 as a prime mover. Unloading materials being brought in on the ships and stock pileing the materials and when needed loading the construction materials on the Navy vessels to be moved up to Lojawa. And at first riding up with the materials and unloading them and returning back to Enewetak for more. That was a daily routine until a base camp was established up on Lojawa. On off time I hung wth a couple of the Hawaiian guys snorkeling and spear fishing. And hanging out at the Pau Hana club or the Traidwinds. Or just kicking back. I only did one tour cause after I returned back to Hawaii I PCS’ed to Kentucky.

  6. I was the second group to come down from the USN side of the house, Oct to March 79, lived on the island at first then went up north and lived in Tents and took showers outside under the large rain barrels like you see in MASH. I enjoyed my time there because each day was a new experience hauling all the branches of service around island to island on the LCM’s Maggie 9 was my craft. I won’t ever forget some of the scenes I saw only because I will never see some of them again. Remember the civilian cooks and on every Wednesday we had prime rib…don’t think i have had it since then,,,,and it was the first time i ever drank powdered gator aid….YUCK..but was so thirsty that night/day before the “Great Evacuation” to Guam…will remember that well seeing i was one of the last to get on the C-131’s and turned around the next day and back on the island again to begin clean up and start up while the rest of the personnel stayed in Guam another week. Would not have traded my experience for anything.

  7. I was a member of the 1st FRST who actually lived on Enewetak in an quansit hut at the end of the island. The group scrounged, scraped materials that made the quarters livable. (Leave it to the AF to set up a minature golf course, bar-b-que pit, bar and even a little privacy, by using lockers for cubicles). However, when our team returned stateside in Nov 78 the party was over for the next generation team. They were moved to Lojwa making it closer to the islands for mission support. I have good memories of the team I worked with, including the other branches of the services and the DOD civilians that supported the cleanup. I left just before Thanksgiving of 78 with a feeling of satisfactory that we had accomplished a lot but leaving to great teams to follow. It was a great experience and I had an opportunity to work hand in hand with the different military branches, it was a real pleasure. Ive been very fortunate I have no health issues so far.

  8. I was there from June 79 till Nov 79. I don’t remember many peoples names any more, but I can remember their faces though. While I was there I spent most of my time removing metal debris from the reef and stock piling it on Runit for later disposal in the lagoon.

  9. Patrick O’Reilly. Sorry I missed you last post. Hopefully, you will be able to see this one. I was unable to contact Senior Chief Walker. He was on my friends list but he may have unfriended me. Other than that, no news of any our shipmates from the dive locker. Sad eh? Still appealing to the VA on some issues but hopefully I will prevail if I live long enough.

    • Hey Pete, Good luck with the V.A. Planning to go to Little Creek in the near future, when it stops snowing, will see if anyone is around there.

  10. I was there for 9 months during the clean up in 1977. I am trying to get the humanitarian award for the cleanup that I was supposed to receive. I believe that one of the photos that have been submitted is one of the trucks that I drove. I was there when Sgt Moody was killed with a bulldozer. If anyone knows the exact dates and times I was there, please reach out to me. I cannot find it in my service record. I have been having some medical conditions, but there is no proof of my clean up in the islands which is really hindering me getting the treatments that I need. I know that I was there for about 9 months, but I do not recall the months. My email address is paranormalmike4@gmail.com if anyone was there when I was there and want to reconnect.

  11. I was in a wreck 11 years ago (artery dissected and traumatic brain injury) and have only vague memories of being on Enewetak. I have a patch, a hat, some pics which I shared and that is about it. I was Air Force and was there I think to remove/destroy (ahem) equipment and to relocate the beacon transmitter. I say “I think” because I lost a lot of memory, all childhood and a lot of young adult, and those things I think I remember are not always correct. A lot of my Air Force time was spent travelling around the world building comms for different commands. If anyone on the team here remembers anything about me on Enewetak I would appreciate any insight. Thanks to the folks who give of themselves to keep the site going.

  12. Air Force Communications team from 11/77 to 5/78. Stayed behind during Typhoon Mary. Long hours but we had it easy compared to the guys on the other island. I remember how well Holmes & Narver fed us. Can’t believe it has been almost 40 years.

    • When did the Typhoon go through Enewetak? I was there with the Navy. One of the MK 8 boat coxswains and was evacuated to Guam for a short 6 hour stay while the storm run its course over the islands. I might be confused but thought it was around Christmas time 1977. So, if you remember, could you let me know? – Charles charlesschley@yahoo.com

      • Typhoon Mary, Dec 26, 1977. 4 C-141’s took 838 people to Guam. Earliest any came back was about 5 days. Some didn’t get back for almost 2 weeks.

        • Hey Sandy, I was with the Navy and drove the MK-8’s that took personnel from Island to Island along with equipment and soil out to dump in the lagoon. I was one of the lucky ones that when we got to Guam and just started to relax and have a few beers…I was told to pick up my bags and I was on my way back for the Start up….so was actually only in Guam for about 5 or 6 hours and back to the Rock to get the boats back up and running for the Navy.

          • Hi Charles! There were 5 C141 that took us to Guam. I know I still have the pix of them on the runway. I’m new on this page and don’t know how to post any of my pix yet.

          • Yes I remember those C-141’s, do you remember the T-shirts that they came up with for surviving Enewetak? The T-shirt shows the back end opening of the C-141 with personnel getting onboard, just shows the back of the personnel….well I was basically the last person to get onboard due to having to evacuate the other islands before we could leave…..it was a long day I will say that….we did have some good times there that is for sure….

      • Charles, I take it you were with ACU-1. I was too and was part of the very first team that went in Spring of 77. I was known as Geedunk En3 Phillips Fn George Gendron Bm3 Corcoran and Sn Zoleo went.

  13. There has been a lot bills introduce to the Congress and the VA about Atomic Veterans, which would include our time in the MARSHALL Island, however in there callus ways haven’t done anything about
    it.

  14. I was on the ramp when the welder lost his life. Apparently the rust resistent material inside the LCM boat that I think Ripken was welding on was not flame proof. We called him RIP and I always felt bad afterwards as we called him RIP and well. He was a mate of mine at the amphibious base in Coronado. A super great guy and I knew his girlfriend. I think her father was an admiral . Mark Denman

    • Mark,

      Pretty sure the Navy HT that died was Victor Priest. He and I worked together because I was the Army welder on Enewetak. He was married and had kids, at least 1 I think. I still have a picture of him while we were working on rebuilding an old civilian crane. It was definitely a bummer. I went on to become a welder on the Naval Shipyard and Pearl Harbor and never forgot how Vic died because the wood preservative exploded in the craft he was welding. We certainly must have crossed paths brother.

      Aloha, Bill

      • Hi William. Vic had 2 kids, a boy and a girl both young. Nice guy. The chapel was named for him soon after, then changed before I got back on my second tour.

        • I was an AIC in 1972 and we dug up bunker and miles of cable pushed upconcrete boxes of nuclear waste and dug island t0 water table for more conventional test c4 instead of nuclear. Was a ginny pig and didnt know it then.

      • We received notice back at ACU-1 about the HT’s death…showed the LCM-8’s ramp and where it had exploded. The gas built up from the cosmoline (preservative) caused the explosion and shortly after that the Navy did suggest vents for air in and out to be implemented for the ramps on the MK-8’s….besides those MK-8’s were of the older class LCM-8’s and most were not aware of the cosmoline inside the ramps.

    • I remember the day he died. It was the day before he was to go back to San Diego. He was happy to be going home. I don’t remember if he offered or if he was asked to do the welding job. I do know his relief was there. I remember he was looking for something to do around the boat house.

      I made a memorial for him. If anyone knows exactly where he is buried, could you please let me know. If anyone has a good photo of him, you can add it or send it to me and I will add it.

      http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=163506197

  15. I had a lot of fun and met some really good people one I’ll never forget and that was a guy named St Louis he never got off the Enewetak alive. He was supposed to be on the next flight out to Hickam AFB and didn’t make it.

  16. I was on Enewetak 1978, Company A, 84th Engr Bn. I spent 5 months out there working as a welder, 3rd shop almost down to the runway.

    • John, myself and my buddy Rob Elder built that weld shop summer of 1977. We both left in November 77 so you must have taken over after us sometime. Remember that welding table, the one with the thick plate as a top? It was built on a D9 bulldozer cab we stole right off the dozer sitting in the motor pool! Man, that place was the Wild West while we were there. And I got the anvil from some UH dive team boat. They were using it as an anchor and traded it to me after I made them a real anchor. BTW, I went on to be a welder in the Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor in 1978 and just retired as a superintendent last week.

      Aloha, Bill

  17. Hey all, I was assigned to Enewetak from 12 December 1978 to 25 October 1979 and worked in the headquarters group for FCDNA as a brand new Army SP4. I hadn’t really given much thought to my time there, until I came across this website and now all the memories have come rushing back! Some were good, all the great individuals I had the honor of serving with and some not so good. I was one of the lucky ones, assigned there for a one year tour. I am very disturbed to hear of all the health issues all my fellow soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have been suffering from. It doesn’t surprise me though that the VA and other government entities are denying that it was a direct cause from the radiation exposure. I would love to get back in touch and share memories with everyone, just contact me and let me know how I can help.

    David C. Guy
    MSG, USA (Ret.)

    hmmurdock58@att.net
    704 965-5344

  18. I was a member of the LARC 60 team from Feb 1978 til March of 78 my Dad was also stationed on Lojwa and was the NCOIC of the motor pool there SFC Richard Preciado Sr. I remember working 6 days a week and basically doing my job. I do remember being sent out in a tropical storm with another LARC 60 and 2 Navy Mike boats (LCM 8) when the YC barge broke loose and got hung up on the reef. WE had to hook up and drag it off the reef and then hold it in place while the Mike boats hooked up and took it back to where ever it was before the sea got so rough we ended up pulling up on a small island before and waiting for a lull in the storm to get a ride from the helicopter back to Lowja. Still remember Pinkard and Scott Perry lashing themselves to the rails on the port and starboard side bow and riding out the waves as they crashed over our bow and into the well deck. Still I will always remember my time as a Lojwa Animal fondly. My Dad passed away on Oct 23 2005 from heart problems.

    • Richard, sorry to hear of your Fathers passing. I remember you, and your Dad, I was thinking he was first sgt. And may have posted such earlier, I remember the typhoons, and the cazy times, rat killing, lol. I was called Paco.
      Was there from oct 78 to apr 79

        • John,

          Damn good to hear from you!
          I would love to see the pics, as I have zero.
          Misfortunes of life has lost everything I ever had from Enewetak.
          Hope life has been treating you well
          Mike (Paco)

          • Michael, I am not very good at this tech business. I will have my son try and send them to you.He sent a bunch to Frank but they have not been posted yet.Life is great.About to retire soon after 30 years of teaching school in the mountains of N.C.Will keep in touch.John

          • John,
            Have him send them to my email
            Phtechmike@hotmail.com
            I am happy to hear you are doing well, and ready to retire. If you ever get to Vegas, my door is open.

  19. I was on Lojwa for 6 months in 78. I was a Power Plant operator and they called me the “kid.” They told me not to worry about radiation and did not issue me a radiation badge. I never went near the crater. Great times.

    • That would be the Lojwa “Cat House” I worked there as well. Are quarters got bombed by rocks if the power went out.

  20. HI . I was with ACU-1 on Lojwa in 78, Crew member ‘Mesh !!’ known as ‘Crash 11’ for the many times we struck coral heads. I was known as ‘bone head’ (thanks Perry) until l was electrocuted in the com tower on Runit. Rode the pod down to Fred an was known as ‘eveready’ after that. I have cancer, and like I’ve seen posted already , no protective gear ever worn. We de-con’d our boats in shorts with a fire hose. I remember wearing a film badge but I think for show only. I don’t recall them being monitored ever.

    • Dexter Reilly from HCU2 Diving locker and engineer on Maggie 4 was Harry Bailey your Cheng

    • Bonehead we we’re roommates in I.B.sorry you got cancer bro I had spinal cord tumor paralized now but got arm control I got back from Enewetak, you just left to go I went there in April 78 ck. Me out on fb brotherman

    • Kirt, Jim Lindsay here. Remember the time my radio fell into the bilge and we tried to dry it out with a hair dryer? I have a picture of us and I think you were holding the dryer. I will have to find it and can send you a copy.

  21. I was assigned to the 84th Engineer HQ company and acting motor pool sergeant, and the company CBR team during my 18 months in 76-77 While I was never in Enewetok I knew some of you personally when returning to Schofield Bks, Its sad to hear of the passing of fellow unit members and wish continued health to those who remain..

  22. I just reconnected with an army buddy that was there with me in May 1977. I am concerned that he has had prostate cancer. I am looking for any information on other heath problems others have had. – Greg Fregoe

    • Greg Fregoe: Thank you for asking about health issues out of concern for your Army friend. I’ve found many of our Atomic Cleanup Veteran group members have similar if not identical health issues as the Atomic Veterans who watched the blast and felt the heat from the nuclear tests. Prior to the tests, the U.S. Government hired experts to determine how military personnel would be affected by weapons grade ionizing radiation. Then they compared actual health issues of those involved in the atomic tests. As the years progressed, the Veterans Administration updated the “presumptive” cancers caused by exposure to ionizing radiation. Congress has determined which cancers the VA is required to treat when an Atomic Veteran suffers from a cancer on their list. Currently, Atomic Cleanup Veterans are not allowed to file any claim with the VA based on exposure to ionizing radiation unless it is listed as “occupational exposure” to radiation. We are actively working towards changing the laws so Atomic Cleanup Veterans can receive equal priority health treatment as Atomic Veterans. The VA sponsored a 5 hour continuing health education course called “Veterans and Radiation.” It was written to explain health issues and treatments typically required for exposure to ionizing radiation. You can read more on “Our Atomic Health” page at http://www.atomiccleanupvets.com/2014/03/03/our-atomic-health/ We also have a Facebook Group where we chat about our cleanup mission and share photos and memories > https://www.facebook.com/groups/120395714769077/

  23. Hello to all fellow atomic cleanup veterans. Spent my time on the Enewetak 8-78 to 3-79. Think about that place frequently. I’ve looked for my TDY orders to the Island and have sent requests to DOD a couple times with no success. Can anyone tell me who to get in touch with to get my orders. I was a SPC at the time from Fort Bliss.
    Thanks
    Allen Beck

    • Glad you found us Allen Beck! You can get many of your military records by going to http://www.archives.gov/veterans/ and requesting them. I do not know how you can get copies of travel orders. I lucked up and had one of the guys email me his travel orders with my name included on the list. I was good about keeping copies of documents too but lost most of them when I was transferred from Schofield Barracks to Fort Carson. A “friend” didn’t mail them to me as promised. You will be happy to know nearly 200 of us chat and share pictures in a group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/120395714769077/. Hope to see you join our forgotten glow in the dark misfits group from Enewetak Atoll soon. – Frank Bolton

      • Girard. Thanks for the advice for my records. Sent off required information to your link to get copies of my orders. Didn’t get a single copy of any of my Active duty time. After leaving active duty I joined the National Guard and went on active duty title 32 in 1983. I retired from this status in 2001, so all the documents I received were from this time period. Only my DA 2-1, and the stupid letter of depreciation we all received is the only proof that I went TDY to Enewetak. Any other sources you know of that may assist me would be great appreciated.

        Oh and just read the health survey, I to had melanoma skin cancer, and joint pains. Was not on Lojwa for a long period of time, just a couple days but since I worked at the parts warehouse I had the pleasure of receiving all the old trucks/broke repair parts that did come from Lojwa.

        The one thing I thought was amazing was how you all filled your gallon urine bottles. Everyone helped to fill up the bottle. And where did the urine bottle go?

        • I do not remember having anyone ever help me fill my piss jug.
          I was doing so much drinking at that time, it didnt really take me long to fill it. We all made slings for the things, drew cartoons on them, whatever. You had a piss bottle, you were going home!

  24. Thinking of the time that I was in Enewetak now with all the health problems that I have.

  25. Thank you so much!!! I checked out at the end of my 4 year hitch in Oct. 1977 and left Coronado for good. I’m 59 now and could not remember his name! I believe he left a wife and 2 kids behind too.
    Thanks for the word!!!

  26. I wanted to post this in memory of one of our U.S.N. ACU-1 Brothers that was killed in a welding accident on the ramp of an old LCM-8 he was a Hull tech (welder) it happened in 1977 just after my team and I got back from Enewetak. I cannot recall his name and was wondering if anyone remembered this incident.

    • Rick Phillips: We were recently discussing several deaths that happened during our cleanup mission. Your ACU-1 Brother was one of those Veterans. Evidently, a building was named Priest Chapel in honor of the Sailor who died at Enewetak Atoll welding on a boat ramp that had a preservative in it. Several of our group members remember the incident. At least one knew him personally. Sorry for your loss. – Girard Frank Bolton, III.

      • Btw, I signed up for the roster and submitted the names of my team members but I don’t see us on the roster. What’s up?
        Do you need more info?

          • I remember the ramp being welded blowing up because of the gases of the cosmoline being heated up. I was stationed at ACU-1 in 77 and I too went to the Clean Up Project Enewetak Aug 77 to Mar 78 and was there for the evac, I drove the MK-8’s (Maggie Nine) was her handle. I remember too being on duty when the boston whaler came in with the civilian diver that was almost eaten by a shark that swolled a bang stick…supposedly and the helo was dispatched but water was too chopy so whale boat had to pick them up. It was a mess to see.

    • Brother, just sent another post about it. I was the Army welder in Enewetak and the HT was Victor Priest. I still have a picture of him and remember him like it was yesterday. I remember getting the word of his death in the mess hall. As I stated in my last post, that incident stayed with me my entire career in the shipyard at Pearl, never forgot it. If any good came out of it, not that there could, I made sure myself and my welders as I was promoted never forgot that welding on a confined space can end up tragically.

      Aloha, Bill

  27. So sorry to here of the sickness and death due to exposer .There wasn’t any PPE at all for anyone. We were all young then and didn’t realize what danger we were in. I guess we thought that the people in charge really cared about us,mistake!

  28. Hello all!
    The hair on the back of my neck stood up when I found this site!
    I was in Enewetak for just 45 days the Summer of 1977. I was an ASSAULT BOAT ENGINEER with ACU-1 we actually lived on Enjebi and worked with an ARMY equipment crew moving aggregate from Enjebi to Lojwa to be used for building housing and such for the clean up crews to come. Two of us, myself and FN George Gendron did a lot of scuba diving some for fun and some was to place weights for buoys.
    I have known in my gut and because of things that happened that we got SCREWED! LONG STORY I HOPE TO TELL IT HERE ONE DAY.
    We had ZERO protective gear for starters. And we were told that our urine samples for ten men were ALL damaged on a C-130 en route to Pearl and could NOT be tested.
    I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

  29. Compared to what I have read of the support before me, mine was a vacation. The hours were long and the sun was hot as was it for everyone else. Enewetak Atoll cleanup years went beyond what I have seen posted. I didn’t have to get directly involved as I said I was there for the boat crew (bringing craft ashore at night and pushing them out in the morning and after lunch). I stood watch at the boathouse, I liked the late watch at night. That duty included barometer watch and ensuring no moored craft left its berthing. I also inloaded retrograde equipment from landing craft to the well deck of a navy vessel. We used our dozers to clear beaches of old landing craft that were hauled out to the lagoon and sunk. I help U.D.T. (underwater demolition team) clear debris from the ocean.

  30. 36 years ago doesn’t seem long but time flies. I miss the Lowja Reindeers… had something to do on Saturday nights for entertainment besides watch the flics or work out in the weight room.

  31. I think about our time at Enewetak in 78-79 and going to help repair the Army’s LCM-8’s at Cactus Crater which was still a open pit. We on board USS Dubuque LPD-8 were getting the dust and sand blowing on us on our small flight deck for the first three days. We brought the LCM’s into our well deck for repairs not knowing the LCMs were just full of radiation from sand and water that ended up in our well deck. We had JP-5 tank tops in the bottom of the well deck. My job was to tighten them down every time we lowered or raised the well deck to float in the LCM’s from Cactus! There were plenty of boats those first three days and I had to put my hands in radioactive water and sand to tighten down the bolts to the tank tops and my boots were really soggy as this was an all day event for those three days. When we came for six more days in Nov 1978 after a big typhoon had hit you guys really hard we did it again same spot. Anchored off Runit Island and still got the sand and dust from Cactus blowing all over the ship and small flight deck, again same job!! Funny thing, we had left dry dock the year before and somehow they never got to fixing the radioactive alarm warning for the ships bridge, as we always seemed to be closer to the hot side of the lagoon and all these years later the health problems are long…. lower neuropathy in legs feet and hands and sleep apnea open heart bypass surgery, aggressive osteoarthritis and is in knees and hips, diabetes, jungle rash that will not go away and potassium levels off the charts. Seems it changed my DNA, lot of the crew has said they to have a lot of medical problems from the mission to help repair equipment at Cactus we got the Humanitarian Medal and still in wheelchair and still not having fun time with are VA system but I know all paid some price for this clean-up 78-79 timeframe. Some who were there clearing the debris paid the full price with their lives and still no one from Congress will help!! Nor will the VA system say we owe you guys on the clean-up compensation or benefits, they would rather deny, deny and watch us die!!

  32. I was stationed on Lojwa for six months between February 1978 and August of 1978. I flew back to Oahu to be a witness in a Courts Martial Trial. That was the only time I was off the rock. My primary job was in communications, and I was responsible for the telephone/radio systems for the islands. I managed to visit almost every island, because I had to utilize the Lojwa Taxi (A Huey used by the Body-Snatchers Medivac Team), and quite often I had to fly to Enewetak from Lojwa for my job. During those flights, we often had to leave the aircraft to pick up scientists and troops that had to be elsewhere that was more important than my job. Often I was left on an island to make room for others that had more pressing business. Hours on the other islands (many hot islands) was nothing out of the ordinary. I also had an experience with an E-6 that felt my job was too easy and he ordered me to help the guys on the crews, gathering radioactive debris with no protective gear. I did this quite often. I managed to finally get away from that E-6 after a call to Schofield, then my duty station and ultimately the Pentagon. He was then told to leave me alone, and that I had a job to do. He never could seem to get a call out to home after that. Hmmm, Imagine that. I wonder how that happened? I was also a bartender at the Lojwa Sandcastle for my tour. I went out with the 84th behind hot lines several times and managed to get my mouth, throat and nose swabbed for radiation exposure counts. I had the Geiger Counters ran over my hands and feet more than a few times. The readings were always off the charts. I bunked in the commo bunker that used to be a Japanese bunker. It housed our commo equipment and had an air conditioner. I found out after leaving Lojwa, that the bunkers contained the most heavy contamination, due to being in the ground halfway and the thickness of the cement. It was on the atoll side and just south of the movie theater. UHF-VHF and Microwave also contaminated me with electromagnetic waves from the equipment plus the radiation. It was a lose, lose situation. I am still living with many illnesses, including late stage cancer. I have had many rashes, some so bad that I couldn’t put on a shirt for a week. This occurred several years after I was out of the service. I still, to this day, get blisters on my hands, feet and any moist areas on my body. We used to call this “Jungle Rot”. I have suffered from broken teeth (Always had Thick Strong and well cared for dental work) almost immediately after leaving the service. Joint pains and cartilage that has been destroyed at a very early age, low sperm count and three children that were born with defects that indicate a parent was exposed to Ionizing Radiation. My wife has PTSD from having to watch her family be destroyed little by little due to my tour on Lojwa. There have been many things wrong since I have returned. I was also never given my 30 days convalescence leave to adjust to the real world upon my return to stateside. No counseling either. I only had eight days left in service the day I flew off the rock.

    • Jonathan Androl from Las Vegas, NV
      My father was a participant of the Clean-Up Operation of Enewetak Atoll. I have witnessed first hand what it is like to watch someone slowly die, and turning from a big muscular man into a shell of his former self. Not only has my Dad suffered (Late Stage Cancer), but our entire family has suffered by having to watch this over a long, slow period of time. Not to mention, him not being able to work since the age of 49, blowing his entire retirement on bills while he could not work. He is 100% disabled, broke and dying. I wish to thank our government for deliberately turning their backs on these great men, and ignoring what they accomplished.

    • Bev Androl on September 9, 2014
      It’s difficult to comprehend the word survivor in the roster. Just because we are losing so many veterans that served our country and were exposed to such toxic chemicals.

      • Bev Androl on September 9, 2014
        I am the very happy wife of a Lojwa Animal. We have been married 33 years. We met a couple of days after his discharge from the army. We have had many challenges throughout our life together. We were blessed with 3 beautiful boys. Now after discovering my husbands cancer diagnosis. We have come to the realization that the cancer was from being exposed to ionizing radiation and agent orange. That also explains some of the Heath issues our children experienced. This is a great group and I hope everyone gets what they deserve in regards to adequate health care and hopefully their benefits. May god bless all of us who have foreseen some of the ailments that were caused from being exposed to such toxic substances.

    • James, This is Ian Jackson. I was an equipment operator 78-79. We lived at the airport MAC terminal. Our work took us to all the islands in the atoll and never once did I have a rad badge. Never even filled the jug of pee. I too have had some rashes that the docs could not find out where or what caused them. After reading your story it seems I now know why. I have just recently found this site and think it is a godsend for us if for no other reason than we can talk to guys who were there and feel the pain. I’m just turning 59 and my time on the rock has always been in the back of my mind the big What If?
      Like some other guys here have said, it was the best and worst duty I ever had. Spent 20 yrs serving our country and now to hear we are just like all the rest of the vets that stood the line.
      Our country should be ashamed. I wish you the best and I am going to try to track down more of the guys I was with there. If anyone see this and remembers me, get in touch here.

  33. I will always remember my time on Enewetak Atoll. I also think of my time there was part of history.

  34. I was there twice, the last time was when burned the maintenance and the mess-hall down in the end. I operated the 5-ton wrecker and did mechs. I needed my dd-214. On the original it had my information saying I had been in the Marshall Islands but on the copy it didn’t. Although it does list the Humanitarian Medal.

  35. I know of three of my team members who have died since leaving the islands and service. Two of them from cancers and one was not disclosed to me but I have reason to believe it was from acute pancreatic disease brought on by alcohol and smoking. I will not name them of course here but in the years following our deployment I stayed in touch with several of our team and they relayed there information to me. I do not see any of them hear on this site but I would like to find and ask them to join us but no luck so far.

    • Hey Pete, long time no hear I’m back in the states now in Hagerstown Md. Pat (Dexter) Reilly
      shoot me an e-mail.

      • Hello Pat, How are you doing? Glad to hear your doing good. Last time I heard you where still in Ireland. I will keep this short till I hear back from you. Take care. Pete M,

        • Hey Pete, how the hell are you, fully retired since ’04 went out with 60% disability and 100% unemployable, living in Smithsburg Md. and enjoying life. But no Jeeps to go joyriding in. Do you ever hear about any of the boys and how is your health?

          • Hey Patrick, I am doing good. Yes I was in contact with Senior Chief Walker and Po Joe Fastiggi. Sorry I took so long to get back to you. Yes I am retired out and doing so so as far stuff goes. I am a grandfather! I cant believe it! I will try and get a hold of Senior Chief again and give him you hello!

          • Hey Pete, thanks for getting back to me, congrats on being a grandfather, my kids are in Ireland my Son is in College and my Daughter is still in High School. I don’t know if any of the boys from HCU 2 are still around but will be in Little Creek next week and try and look them up. Stay in touch and let me know about any health issues from the rock.

          • Have not heared back from you in awhile Pat, just wanted to check in and see how you are doing? Drop a line when you can. Thanks Pete.

  36. Have you done any statistics on how many personnel have passed away since they left Enewetok? Just curious how many other widows/widowers there are out there.

    • Not yet Susan Mullins. Most of the veterans in our group have only been in touch with each other for one or two years. This roster of survivors will be followed by a roster of veterans who have died since the atomic cleanup mission began. Every day more of us find each other and we will begin to have a much clearer picture of the quality of life our group lived since the atomic cleanup mission. Thanks for asking. I think a support group would be beneficial for survivors.

      • Susan Mullins was your husbands nick name Moon? If so we went diving and snorkeling a lot together. He was a great guy. I miss those Lojwa Animals.

  37. It is necessary now to utilize Social networking and the banding groups together in order to have our numbers strength. All members please assist by writing to all of your elected officials. Pass the word to every person, website, conversation, groups etc. for eventual growth. We are one. We stick together for the benefit of each of us. We all are seeking the very same thing. We can make this work. Please help in any way you can. We are also here for each through thick and thin. We are Brothers and Sisters that all bleed patriotic colors. Thank you all for what you have done for me.

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