They are but a few of the Survivors of the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission in the Marshall Islands. My name is T-M Fitzgerald but they call me Fitz.
They adopted me as their little sister because I like to ask questions that have refreshed memories that are funny, sad and enlightening.
Atomic Cleanup Veterans’ first hand accounts of the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission need to be shared. Now, sit back and read what they’ve asked me to share with you.
Introduction: “Where in the World is Enewetak?”
Enewetak Atoll is just one of many atolls and islands in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Island chain. Located about 2,365 nautical miles SW of Hawaii (just north of the equator), the Marshall Islands were once a major testing ground for nuclear weapons post WWII. This island chain is also home to the project called Cactus Dome, a 350′ wide blast crater located at the northern end of Runit Island that has become known as the ‘Nuclear Trashcan of the Pacific.’
Between 1948-58, forty-three nuclear weapons were detonated over Enewetak and its sister islands. Among these tests were ‘Ivy Mike‘ and ‘Castle Bravo‘ (a device 1000x as powerful as the bomb ‘Little Boy‘ which was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan post Pearl Harbor.)
In 1977, a coalition of United States military forces and civilian support teams were sanctioned to ‘clean’ the islands of residual radioactive fallout. Men, many who were mere teenagers back in the day, were tasked with cleaning the contaminated fallout from the nuclear testing that occurred throughout the previous three decades. Keep in mind, that as recent as 2012, the United Nations reported that the cumulative effects from all nuclear testing had effectively caused near-irreversible environmental contamination. There was a problem beginning in 1977 and currently, effects from that exposure have begun to manifest, taking toll on many surviving Enewetak Vets and contractors today. Four decades later, survivors are telling their stories because the world needs to know.
- Before you were sent to the Marshall Islands, what did you know about the location or the mission?
- What was your job while you were there and what sort of protective equipment did you use?
- When did you first realize or suspect that the work environment you were once subjected to wasn’t right?
- What prompted you to share your experiences with the world?
- If you could commandeer the cameras and the mikes at the next State of the Union Address, and address the entire nation about your time and the repercussions AFTER the Rock, what would be the message you would convey?
Also need: Branch of military, MOS/Job Code, your base camp location when you TDY’d on the Rock and Year of Service there….
Request for Interviews
Over 8,000 people participated in the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission. I’ve already interviewed many Atomic Cleanup Veterans. If you participated in the mission, please contact me, T-M Fitzgerald so you can schedule your 30 minute interview too. I’ve been told I’m easy to talk with and I am not shy to say I feel honored every time I meet another Atomic Cleanup Veteran.
We urge our supporters to encourage their politicians to support 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.”