Travis Lee Higginbotham

Travis Lee Higginbotham

Nickname:  N/A

Employer during Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission:  Army

Rank:  O-2 2LT Second Lieutenant

Job Title: 21B Combat Engineer – Platoon Leader

Unit: A Company, 84th Engineer Battalion

Enewetak Atoll TDY Tour:  11/21/1977 – 5/3/1978

Island Lived on at Enewetak Atoll:  Enewetak

Islands Worked on at Enewetak Atoll:  Enewetak & Lojwa

Description of Work Performed:  Platoon Leader for 3rd Shop, A Company. We performed all the heavy equipment maintenance of Wheeled Vehicles and Engineer Equipment for all elements of the 84th Engineer Battalion on Enewetak Atoll. We also maintained all Generators and sent Contact Trucks to various work site throughout the Atoll. We supported the LARCs detachment, the Air Force and the Navy. Our machine shop could make anything you wanted. Our group had an attachment of Seabees assigned who could do Depot Level Maintenance (ie: tear an engine down to its components and rebuild it.) Believe it or not, we also repaired the washing machines and dryers on the atoll.

Health Challenges which may be related to Radiation Exposure:  None

Comments about Health Challenges: None

Veterans Administration Health Assistance: TRICARE

Experiences with the Veterans Administration:  I have had a good experience with the VA. Fortunately I have other healthcare insurance and those things that I can’t get at the VA I go thru my private healthcare provider. Generally I get my flu shots and annual physicals at the VA. It was recommended that I have a skin cancer screening and the VA has only one dermatologist. So the wait time was at least 6 months. I ended up going thru my family doctor and getting my screening done. If I have any criticism of the VA it would be not referring to outside providers to get health issues resolved rather than depending totally on in house resources. This causes too much delay.

Current Residence: Blue Springs, Missouri

Contributions towards accomplishing Our Current Mission:

Photos: N/A

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

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

Do you know Travis Lee Higginbotham? Do you know an Atomic Cleanup Veteran? Are you an Atomic Cleanup Veteran? Are you willing to help us accomplish our mission? Share your comments below!

15 thoughts on “Travis Lee Higginbotham

  1. Hey Lt. I see you don’t live that far from me. I was just talking with John Long (welder) and was looking on the site and saw your name. I don’t see Dick Darvy on the Roster and the last time I saw him was at Ft. Ord in 1986. He was the DISCOM CSM. I also stayed in till 1997 and retired a CW3 here right outside Ft. Leonard Wood. Enewetak brings back so may memories. I remember walking on the reef at night at low tide picking hundreds of calories and cleaning them and shipping them home. I still have boxes of them. The most memorable thing was being evacuated to Guam for the hurricane for a few days.

    • Gary good to hear from you. I can still remember your face and how I was always impressed with the way you did your job. I seem to remember we talked about you becoming a Warrant Officer. The only person I saw that was in the platoon was SSG Cleater. I went and visited with him when I got back to Hawaii. Maybe “Pineapple” can’t remember his real name at Ft Rucker was the only other guy. I was stationed at Ft Leonard Wood from 1983 to 1987. I was XO for 589th EN BN, 2d Training BDE. I had a house right outside the South gate of the fort. I sold it in 2015. I rented it out after I PCSd to Ft Dix. I have very good memories of Enewetak and remember you very well. Remember CW3 Johnson having a blood clot in his brain when he was at the Navy ramp. Never heard how he made out. 1SG Darvy what a character. He did a good job straightening me out. I think he cleared out the office once a week and we talked it out. I will never forget him. The last couple of months of my tour we really clicked together. Remember Sp4 Carpo he was another troop I really thought had his shit together. Well good to hear from you.

  2. Served under Lt. in the motor pool as a welder for my six months of duty.

    • I just looked at the roster and was wondering why my name was highlighted and noticed your remarks. How are you doing? I have many fond memories of our time there and I remember you. I have pictures of you and SP5 Spivy working on the crane. One of the members on this site Al Gettier worked on Runit at the crater and he said they used that pulley you and Spivy built and worked very well. You are the first guy I have run into that I was with over there. I ended up making a career of the Army and retired in 1996.

      • Just seen your reply. Must check on this more often. Good to hear you are doing OK Lt. I myself left the isle, went home, worked for post office, now retired. What a opportunity we had there, remember times there and people that I met. You do not reside far from me, I am your neighbor, here in Kansas. Hope to hear more from you and others, love this site. Take care sir. God bless.

          • Glen I saw a earlier post on the FB Page where you said you were in 3rd Shop. My memory is not to where I remember everything that happened 40 years ago. I am trying to remember you. Where did you work and who was your Squad Leader/Section Chief? I remember Ed Acosta real well and many others. I am sure I interacted with you. You were there the same time frame Nov 77 to May 78. You mentioned you were on Runit maybe you worked with SSG Cleater when he took on Runit assignment. That was the most challenging assignment in my career. It gave me hope that the Army wasn’t all screwed up. My first assignment at Ft Rucker really sucked and when they gave the opportunity to go somewhere else I jumped at it. Good see someone else from 3rd Shop while I was there.

          • Travis, I’m not positive but wasn’t our dispatcher named Hoffman? Dick Darvey was in charge of the 3rd shop and was a bad ass but I got to know him a lot better when he was the CSM at DIVARTY 7th IDL and I was a W2 with the 14th Engr. Bn. Gil Laugaton (sp) was a mechanic and another was ??? Sherbarth

          • Gary don’t know if you caught Glen’s reply but he was the dispatcher in the office. MSG Darvey was a great NCO and he taught me allot. I did a lot of off duty stuff with him sailing, snorkeling. He took me to the Dive Locker once. He was real tight with the Navy and knew all the Senior Chiefs. Once he came to get me up Sunday morning to go snorkeling and I told him I was not feeling up to it. About 30 min later one of the Holmes and Narver guys I knew asked if I wanted to go diving on the Yellow Submarine ( Remember that big yellow boat that the Navy sunk after they were not allowed to use it after the first hurricane. We tagged it the Yellow Submarine after that and after that whenever the Navy asked for a favor they got it.) I tried to find Darvey but no luck. Well he found out and made me feel real bad for standing him up. Every morning he came and picked me up to go eat breakfast. I still got the plaque ( metal shield with a rusty pair of pliers on it ) you guys gave me when I left. ) You may have left before me. When Darvey first came we did not get along at all. It took a while to get our duties and everything sorted out but towards the end we worked great together. He brought a lot of discipline and order to the platoon. Gil Laugaton wasn’t he called Pineapple he was a Hawaiian and ate rice all the time. What ever happened to CW2 Johnson? He had a stroke and almost died. The doctor told me he had pound on his chest and scream into his face to revive him. He almost croaked twice that night.

          • Hey Travis, yea I remember Glen the dispatcher, I also don’t remember him almost getting fried and medevac’d. I was there from Nov 77 through April 78 and I remember getting evacked to Guam for a day for ??? hurricane and then was on the first flight back to assist the navy to unmoor their boats with my wrecker. To me it was fun operating the wrecker assisting the aviators changing blades on their choppers in the hangers and also the navy. I remember the navy took me to one of the islands to change a loader tire by myself and when I got back I had some flats on the wrecker so I was repairing them in the shop and MSG Darvey came in and asked me what I was doing because I was suppose to be at some party. I told him I was working and he chewed me out and told me I was going to the party so we didn’t hit it off that night. Lol I used to spend almost every weekend with the navy EOD guys and we would go to the other islands across the atoll and I remember finding all kinds of WW2 items like canteens and Japanese fishing glass balls and we would catch coconut crabs and cook them over a fire and they were oh so good. Those navy guys were plain crazy. Do you remember what a 3 or 5 man lift was or a pressure test? Those guys made what could have been a bad time a fun time. I remember one time taking the 25 ton crane down by the boat ramp to help them put a ramp back on one of their boats and it took some time to get it just right.
            Me and chief Johnson would go to the island next to Enewetak and go snorkeling and shell collecting. He was assisting me with the rigging on my wrecker trying to pull a truck with cement or something down at the boat ramp the day he had his aneurism. He was pulling the cable out and just sat down and that was it. When I got back to Hi. I went down to Trippler a few times to visit him and go to his physical therapy. He recognized me but couldn’t talk and was like a child. I was very close to him and his wife. My wife at the time and his wife rebuilt an engine in his truck at the craft shop while we were on Enewetak. I believe they shipped him back stateside and medically retired him.
            I remember the runs that MSG Darvey would take us on from one end of the island down to the hanger. I also remember the nights at low tide going out on the reef and collecting calories and then blowing the animal out with the garden hose and then soaking them in pine oil so we could mail them home. I still have boxes of them and the money calories too.
            Yes, Gil Laugaton was called Pineapple and we hung out together when we got back from Enewetak. I also ran into him here at Ft. Wood in ???? when he was a Drill Sargent and then again back in Hi when I went back in 1991. He took me to Kauai where his mom lived and he had a lot of family there. He retired and lives in Waianae. He had a great retirement party and we spent a few new years eve party’s at his house with plenty of fireworks.
            Wow how time flies, I’ve been retired going on 21 years now and don’t know where the time has gone
            it’s great hearing from you Travis. Maybe we can get together sometime.

          • Gary thanks for the info on CW3 Johnson. I always wondered what happened to him glad to hear he survived. I remember the morning it happened. I was down at the PBO office signing hand receipts and picking tools when MSG Darvey came and found me. I remember he was mad at me because I did not tell him where I was going, We went down to the Navy Yard and saw Chief spoke to him but he just kind of looked at me. Pineapple was with me at Ft Rucker when we went to Enewetak. He was popular guy I remember. I seem to recall him reenlisting for Hawaii. I currently live in Blue Springs, MO about 20 miles East of Kansas City. I am retired/retired and enjoying the grand kids and going to sporting events, Notre Dame Football, Royals (season ticket holder) Yeah if you’re ever in the KC area will have to get together. One of my friends from Ft Rucker who also went to Enewetak, Al Gettier came thru here a couple of years ago and we ate dinner. It was good to see him. I think you said you were at Ft. Lenard Wood I use to go there all the time because I owned a rental house there. Sold it a couple of years ago renters just tore it up.

          • Hello LT. I while I remember you surly and clearly and I might add with great respect. After my tour in Eniwetok I stayed in the Army until of the factors in getting out was the lack of a challenge like Eniwetok. I ask and answered to myself that the project in our toxic paradice was the reason for my enlistment.2) the regret that I would never again serve with leader such as you msg Darvey, ssg cleaver, Sgt woodrick and my friend Ed Acosta. Such a crew and project .I have been wanting to talk with you for sometime. Who am I? I worked in 3rd shop ordering parts msg Darvey and we shared a hole in the wall office. I visited several islands ,in fact, all islands where there were troopsproviding Sunday svcs when the Chaplinwas away. I also on a few occasions was flown to runit to repair generators once spending the night on lowja. Oh yeah and did I ever learn what it means to be called a lowja animal. One of my trips to runit was particularly memorable as I was medivaced back to Oahu with severe electrical burns , hot and, radioactive.

          • When I first got there CW2 Johnson asked me to work in the ASL to learn the system for ordering parts. Were you one of the guys in there? When the CW3 Gall came from Hawaii he took the ASL to a warehouse. You stated you shared the walled office with MSG Darvey. So you were in the office with me too I had desk in the corner near the road. Learned how to hunt and peck on the typewriter because no one knew how to type, now look at me, still hunting and pecking only faster. Gary Woodrick aka Woody if I recall said you were the dispatcher. I think I remember you now. You must have got burned on Runit after I left, I think I would have remembered that. The biggest accident I remember was a tire ring popping off a front end loader tire. I was in the rear of the shop and BANG I saw a guy flying backwards thru the air. The chains on the tire kept the ring from decapitating him. SSG Cleater was a fine NCO and he and I had each others back. I saw him when I went back thru Hawaiii on my way home. Did you have dark hair and mustache? That’s what coming back to me. Somewhere I have all the names of guys I wrote awards for when I left. I will have to hunt for them and post them for you. Thanks for responding. I always regard my time in 3rd Shop as one of the best jobs I ever had. I stayed in 20 yrs and had several assignments that were just as challenging but that was the first one. I had right at one year in the Army when I arrived in Enewetak. We lucked out being in the early phase of the cleanup and did not face the same risks the other guys did. They were still setting up Runit when I left.

          • Yes dispatcher/order parts was my primary purpose.yes I was in the same office as you and msg Darvey. I never ran into him again he remains the best nco I have ever served with. There for it was with a heavy heart the day I had to outright lieto him when he asked me Hoffmann do you know where my Jeep is… Nope top I sure don’t. Knowing it was about 50 feet underwater plainly visible from a helecopter… t do you remember when about a dozen or so decited to swim accross the channel to the island next to eniwetak.north of our island. Also I have been trying to remember what our call sign was can you remind me.

  3. 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.

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