“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.”
In 2014, Fitz soon realized Atomic Cleanup Veterans’ first hand accounts of the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission needed to be shared.
So she started taking notes and asking more questions. Then Fitz put what she learned from us into a book appropriately entitled:
“Failure is an inevitable condition of success.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer
These men trusted their government. They had no reason not to. They served with honor, and without question, believing they were serving their country for humanity’s sake. Many have since died for their service, for their patriotism, and obedience, disclaimed and denied by the very government they served. Decades have passed, but the questions remain: “Was it worth it? Did we make any difference at all or were we destined for failure from the start?”
Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man considered ‘father of the atomic bomb’ for his role in leading the program responsible for developing America’s first nuclear weapon (the Manhattan Project) has been attributed with saying the following, “I have become Death.”
For all the men who served in the Pacific Proving Grounds of the Marshall Islands during the Enewetak Humanitarian Mission that took place between 1977 and 1980, no truer words could have been spoken. Over 8,000 men served yet fewer than 500 survivors have been located. The men sharing their stories here are Cold War Survivors. They are few in number but undaunted in spirit.
This book is dedicated to all those born into an era of air raid drills and backyard bomb shelters, to individuals who served their country during a peaceable, and valiant humanitarian effort; Veterans and civilian-contractors alike. This book is for all the men known and unknown who’ve since passed from cancers and various other illnesses related to uncontrolled exposure to ionizing radiation and residual nuclear fallout, and lastly but certainly not least, to the forgotten, comparative few remaining who survive post Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Project.
From Service to Sacrifice: Cold War/Hot Ground. Introducing the Atomic Cleanup Story of the Marshall Islands is a compilation that has been created specifically to honor and remember all those who assisted in the well-intended, yet futile peacetime mission of cleansing a remote, Pacific Trust Territory of the remnants of death that Dr. Oppenheimer had constructed. Without their knowing, Oppenheimer’s legacy would follow all of them as well for the rest of their lives.
How do we make the threat of nuclear devices real for the twenty-first century? We tell the stories. How could such a large group of soldiers and civilians be so conveniently forgotten? Theirs was a deliberately concentrated population of both military and civilian personnel whose naivety and dedication to the mission would be purposefully exploited all the way to the end? “Deny, deny, until they all die.”
This book is devoted to recognizing all of those who served, remembering those who’ve lost their battles with both their government and with radiation-related illnesses, those who’ve already passed the surly bonds of Earth and for those (Veterans and civilian-contractors alike) who still await Oppenheimer’s invisible call. Perhaps as equally important, this book is dedicated to the world as well, so that all may not only know but perhaps understand the legacy of the men who served in good faith on Enewetak and its sister atolls.
May this book function not only as an introduction but also as a tangible reminder to us all of Oppenheimer’s haunting legacy and of the impossible mission these Atomic Cleanup participants attempted to carry through. The world was never meant to know of these men or the mission they were dealt. This book introduces their true story.
We urge our supporters to learn more about our mission and the consequences of our humanitarian mission by reading our first hand accounts of the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission.
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