Our Current Mission

Participants of the Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission built this 55' high 370' diameter 2' thick concrete containment structure and filled it with 109,840 cubic yards of radioactive soil and debris.

Participants of the Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission built this 55′ high 370′ diameter 2′ thick concrete containment structure and filled it with 109,840 cubic yards of radioactive contaminated soil and debris. – Runit Island. Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands

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.

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.”

By obtaining this goal, we will be eligible to apply for funds set-aside for those who experience health complications due to radiation exposure at Enewetak Atoll.

Atomic Debris Cleanup Participants are not included in the U.S. Government’s definition because “Congress has not created any presumptions for veterans or civilians based on residual contamination of nuclear tests at Enewetak Atoll.”

We served our country by participating in the Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission. The Marshallese People have returned to their homeland. The U.S. Government awarded us Humanitarian Medals for our efforts and we appreciate their praise.

However, many of our survivors and their families have health challenges that are not inexpensive. The Justice Department has ruled for medical funds to be available for those who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service, but Congress has refused to include cleanup participants in that definition.

We urge our supporters to encourage their politicians to create legislation which will include us 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 participant with C Company and HHC S-3 (Operations) 84th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy) (Fwd) Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Source material content for this article was found on websites owned by GovPulse and the Government Printing Office.

45 thoughts on “Our Current Mission

  1. Our bill has been reintroduced into this session of the 115th Congress of the U.S.A.
    Please help support this bill & thank Rep. Grace Meng for reintroducing this bill in Mark Takai’s honor for being our one & only advocate.

    Here is our new bill to get behind & support.

    I have also called Representative James P. McGovern & encourage others to call him to reintroduce his bill for awarding us a medal.

    His bill from the last session.

  2. I am a retired health physicist, and worked on similar problems to your cleanup. I do not require payment for advice on such issues. The NY Times article attracted my attention. An example of my experience is a facility that was monitored annually for many years by government technicians, and due to changes in admin, they engaged me as a consultant to do a study. On the first day, I found high levels of contamination in several workplaces, even in safes that had not been opened in decades. The radiation levels were low, but radioactivity was high, so it was an extremely toxic workplace. All previous inspections failed due to improper procedures. An example of this kind of issue you might find is a bulldozer that was washed down and checked OK for radiation, but try the Geiger probe on the air cleaner element and it is off scale. It is so easy to get false negative data with some kinds of instruments. There may even be tests available to find fission fragment radiation signatures in the bones of atomic veterans, living or deceased.
    I have done some expert witness work, and some legal case preparation in two countries. My experience includes working with journalists, politicians, and lawyers. I once had considerable knowledge of an international attempt to clean up a “Vixen” type bomb test that, after previous cleanups, still had lumps of plutonium you could break trip on, as well as Pu dust that had drifted miles. You should not have been sent in without protective equipment, and months of training before you were transported to the island. It is not necessary for you to prove your cancer is from that radiation. Given you have a medical condition that could have been caused by radioactive material at the island is enough. Proof of exposing you to a biological insult is enough causation, and it should not be necessary to prove that particular insult caused your injury. My profession failed you.

  3. I have been busy all morning making phone calls to our Rep.’s to get this bill passed. I have been busy for years before I joined this group trying to get us recognized for our mission in the Marshall Islands & to get us the testing we deserve & have a right to, this was not an occupational hazard as described by the VA.
    We have a New President with power in both houses & it is not time for letters it is time to call & give our testimonials to our representatives & committee leaders.
    I posted the original bill a while back, https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3870
    Mark Takai of Hawaii who past away last summer was our strongest advocate & we are left without one now.
    The bill was reintroduced in his honor & I am proud of that since he cared so much about our plight.

    There was also another bill introduced to award all service members who served in this mission a medal. https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2747

    I am calling on all my fellow Lojwa Animals to get their friends & family to flood the Veterans Affairs Office with phone calls. We have run out of time as some of our brothers are no longer with us & soon the rest of us will be gone in time. Time is the one thing we do not have & we can no longer play the waiting game as usual.
    I left that Island in 1979 & I will be 60 in March & I have not given up this fight yet. I also received a back injury that I am getting an increase review on next week. I fell backwards onto a filing cabinet from a makeshift scaffold while repairing the 20 ton Dump Truck repair bldg. on Lojwa after Typhoon Alice tore it down. I am also am arthritic on the L. side of my body & had to have a hip replacement over 10 years ago. Why did I develop arthritis at such a young age? why only on the L. side? Could it have been the Jap Bunker we drilled bore holes into & sat on to pack C4 down the holes. You all know why.
    I do not know if I suffered anything, I am not a Dr. but I do deserve a right to be examined by a Dr. that does know what to look for. I deserve to know my Dosimeter & Film Badge readings while stationed on the Island.
    Please heed my call to action & flood this agency with phone calls this week.
    If we do not get this bill passed it might as well be torn up & thrown away because we have run out of time & the VA is winning the waiting game as usual.
    The only bill that is going to get passed in my opinion is the one for the medal. The only problem with that is it will be after we are dead & buried & awarded posthumously to our family.
    Here are the web sites to get the phone numbers so please get you friends & family to flood them with our cries for help.
    S.O.S. My fellow Animals call now.
    When you visit the web sites just click the members on that page for contact info.

    My Congressman & the head of Veterans Affairs.

    The Sub Committee where the bill is gathering dust.

    Sub Committee on Health.

    Be polite when you call & give them your heath concerns & any issues you are having from your tour of duty on this mission.

    As of now the bill is still in Sub Committee & it has not been reintroduced into this session of Congress. We need the bill reintroduced into this Congressional Session, We need it passed by both houses & we need our new Commander in Chief to sign it.
    In my profile picture you will see me tearing down the barricades with fellow Veterans that were put up around our Monuments in D.C. by you know who. (I am done saying his name)
    I stayed in the hut that was on the far N.W. corner of Lojwa & I built a coral wall & BBQ on the back of our hut for fellow animals to come & enjoy a nice steak & a cold brew.

  4. I Honor my Beloved Father James K. Carey U.S.N.Chief Petty Officer Radioman / Cryptoggraper for the U.S.S Curtis during the testing at Bikini Island 5 other tests…where He was called “a Human Guinea Pig” by His own government..Forever in my Heart my Beloved Father He was kind & fair & caring of ALL Human Beings..Bless Him Infinite 💙💛💖💝

  5. To Girard Bolton, are you there? Ex Runit Rat, Crater Gator, Lojwa Animal. Would like to speak with you.

  6. Attn; Bob Simpson ” Scrapper” Do you remember your brother from another mother name? He was from Cincinnati Ohio Area and maybe what town? I Have couple good pictures of him at Hickman AFB. Were all three from Ohio, Wendall Hollar and I from Knox County and went to school together. At Knox County Career Center. Wendall both of us were station at Ft Carson Colorado. E-mail woofalcon@yahoo.com

  7. To the brother of Tim Jarvis: My name is Jim Hale, your brother was a good friend of mine. I was with your brother on Eniwetok, we had both been assigned there from Ft Riley, Kansas.
    I can give you more accurate details about what took place with Tim’s disappearance. You can contact me at jimhalegoldenrule@yahoo.com. I would truly look forward to hearing from you.

  8. I am Roger Black and was a Chief Boatswain’s Mate with Assualt Craft Unit One in Coronado, Calif when I was involved with the Cleanup. I was involved with Enewetak Atoll from the start. I arrived on the atoll in March of 1977 with four other sailors and took a small joint Army, Navy team (total 7 personnel) up to Enejbi in a LCM-8 to move aggregate (rock) from a pile on Enejbi to Lowja. We camped out on Lowja for several weeks and lived like beach bum’s. Our uniform was short’s and flip flop’s. As I remember the food was really good. I believe our cook was an employee of Holmes and Narver by the name of Lee Cupp. We loaded the well deck of the LCM with rock twice a day and took it to Lowja and dumped it in a large pile. This rock was used in construction of the base camp at Lowja.
    I returned in November 1977 and was the Naval Element Assistant Officer in Charge. I was also the craft Master of Mash 3 a 125 foot Army Landing Craft Unit (LCU).
    I am glad I came across this site. I was hoping that someone would put a web site together for us to get information and to share memories. Take care all and may God Bless each and everyone of you.

  9. My husband died of acute myelogenous leukemia in 1975. He was a Marine Corps Vet from the Vietnam era. But he worked on Kwajalein atoll for several years digging ditches with a company contracted with the government. All the doctors who treated him stated that his bone marrow looked like it had been shot through with a 1000 xrays. This was 1966-1968. Because RECA has a cut off date at Dec 31 1962 he was NOT allowed to be recognized as a radiation exposure victim. They claimed he was not there at an appropriate time. It appears that the clean up your site is covering means that the contamination DID exist still even as late as 1980 with the clean up efforts. Therefore the government is terribly negligent in dismissing vets who went there as civilian workers to work on the NIKE x missile stations construction in the years directly after the testing stopped. The law must be changed to acknowledge all of the radiation victims from the test areas. Unfortunately, a proposal and a bill must be presented into congress to open and rectify all the dates the contamination remained on those islands. Even the local inhabitants were warned against eating food that they had grown on their own land. The RECA needs to be amended to include an open ended date system for all those vets and civilians who have been exposed. It just doesn’t disappear. That is a law of physics. Is anyone in the congress actively working to make the RECA a better act of recognizing the victims??? Is any one else working on it? I spent two years trying to make the Department of Justice accept the results of my husband’s contamination and subsequent death.

    • Hi my name is eileen Carey ..my Beloved Father passed away 2 years ago. He was and will always be my BEST Friend he was the most amazing compassionate Man ..he was in the Navy for over 23 years..and fought the VA for over 35 years to get disability …he had major Heart problems & severe circulation problems too..plus skin cancer. He was ordered to be in 6 nuclear bomb “tests” starting with Bikini Island..he was a Radio Man on the USS Curtis..my Father witness incredible horror during WW2 as he mostly deployed with the Marines because he was the Radio Man to the ship . He was put on burial duty on Tarawa one of THE most bloody battles..the way the VA treated him was awful…first they told him he had Arthritis when IN FACT he had Bone cancer…when they opened him up to replace his catheter the Doctor at Marin General Hosp said my Father was FULL of radiation scars ALL in his Abdomen..it was appalling ..my Friend & i made a video (at my Fathers request) while he was at FT. Miley VA hospital in S.F. CA..you can see how broken Hearted he was with the whole way he and others have been treated..my Father was very “patriotic” however he started seeing the truth about the gov. and how they mistreat Veterans mostly. i have tried to get others to care at the VA and ALL i hear is “TOO Late” meanwhile my older Brother has mental problems my Mother got Breast Cancer & severe Heart problems & i was born with a genetic Kidney problem that NO one ELSE in my Family has..We were ALL exposed to the radiation of the 6 tests he was ordered to be in…and NEVER did they tell these Men to get rid of their gear..and it was ALL contaminated ..My Father was stationed in S.F. CA Treasure Island and they use to bring the contaminated ships to Hunters Point which now is deemed a “super fund” clean up area because they ALSO house ALL the poor Animals that they nuked in those ships TOO..the gov. has YET to clean Hunters Point up either..while my Father was brought into the emergency they kept Him and 3 other Elderly WW2 Veterans on extremely uncomfortable gurneys at the emergency for OVER 4 DAYS..This Country SHOULD be ashamed the way our Veterans are treated for the most part. Please if anyone wants to help me i would LOVE to make a doc. film using my Fathers testimonial video and i also have other proof of how he was mistreated too..i want to do this FOR ALL Veterans and their Families TOO that have been victims of this perverted system. Thank You Sincerely & God Bless us ALL eileen Carey

  10. Hi fellow Animals, I was there from the summer of 78 till Jan. 79. They kept me longer than 6 mo.’s since I was close to my ETS & my greatest memory was getting the notorious ball & chain locked to my ankle by my fellow Animals the day I was leaving the island. We had a visit from some general at the time & he asked me about the ball & chain in the mess, it was prime rib day. You all remember prime rib day don’t you.

  11. Hi Everyone, My name is Bill Brumley I served Nov 77 to May 78, with the Air Force, Fuels Management. I retired 20 years ago from the Air Force. Last month I found out I have breast cancer and in my lymph nodes on the left side. I was just wondering if anyone else may be having heath related issues that they feel may be related to our service. Would love to hear from you and what you know if its related. Also would love to hear from any I served with. Will post some of the pics I have later. Looking forward to hearing from yall

  12. I believe a navy buddy of mine was there in 77 or 78. Ronald Logan Engineman Petty Officer first class. Would have probably maintained and operated landing craft and such. Did anybody know him?

    • I worked with him. He had the nickname “Animal.” I may have at least one picture of him. I will have to look. I remember one time we had replaced a head on a engine overnight and we ended up bending all the valves because we did not adjust them before bumping the engine over with the starter.

  13. Yvonne M.G. Blas
    P.O.Box 26558 GMF
    Barrigada, Guam 96921

    Re: Edward J. Blas
    RECA File 201-16-38241

    I met my husband, Edward J. Francisco Blas, in 1980 and got married in 1986. My husband was employed with Naval Hospital, Guam, Housekeeping Department. He applied for medical and other related benefits associated for a veteran but was denied at Veteran’s Affair Guam located at Naval Hospital. I had my brother live with us but later died of cancer (Thyroid Cancer and Leukemia) not knowing how he caught the illness. I can’t think of anyone in my family that died with this type of illness. Prior to our marriage I had included Ed on my medical insurance which paid for the removal of his tonsils (due to infection) because he could not swallow. Within this same year he injured his back and was seen by a chiropractor, he was told that this injury was related to an injury while serving in the military.

    When Ed and I got married, Ed built a temporary home next to his mom’s house since he was the only son and needed to be closer to her cause she was getting old. Later Guam was hit by a typhoon and damaged our temporary home and we had to build a permanent structure house at this same location. I got pregnant but had a miscarriage and planned on trying for another child but couldn’t, only to find out that I couldn’t and that he was tested and was told that he was not able to make babies.

    Within this same year he was losing his eye sight and was diagnosed for diabetes. Ed still continued to work several jobs to provide for me and my children. We were blessed with 9 grandchildren and a great grandchild. We took care and raised most of our grandchildren while my daughter was working off island. In 2005 we relocated to Tiyan, Guam and three (3) months later his mother passed away. Doctor said she died of Alzheimer but she still remembers a lot of things.

    As Ed’s illness got worse he continued to suffer different illness such are surgery on his foot, which when he was in hospital he applied for VA and was denied again. Soon he was having chest pains, he then saw a cardiologist and was told that he needed surgery. Ed then went and reapplied at the VA regarding the findings of the cardiologist and then was approved. Ed was then seen for medical treatment through the VA Clinic at Naval Hospital, Guam. Ed was then referred to Hawaii for heart surgery.

    After his surgery he again started losing his eye sight and had laser treatment. We later went to Tripler Hospital because he was constantly coughing in which the doctor took x-rays and was told that Ed had scaring of his lungs which was the cause of the coughing. After this ordeal Ed began feeling chest pain and was transferred to the hospital by the Guam Liaison Office. He had a mild stroke and was admitted. When Ed was released from the hospital we had to return back to Guam but would need to return back to Hawaii because Ed needed a defibrillator device installed for his heart.

    Upon returning for the installation of the defibrillator in Hawaii the VA Office Guam was only going to pay for the medical treatment only. At this time we couldn’t afford the airfare, lodging and meals since we exhausted our money. So we asked the VA office if Ed could be treated in Houston. The VA Office approved. My son & his family endured all the cost from air fare, housing, transportation, assistance and other needs. Ed received a defibrillator device installed to jump start his heart.

    When we returned to Guam, Ed participated in recreational activities with the family and accidentally injured himself. He was then taken to the Naval Hospital, Guam where he was treated. At this time Ed can no longer and wasn’t able to perform his house chores. Our grandchildren had to do most of the work and then things worsened with Ed. My youngest brother was unemployed and had to take care of the daily tasks that Ed was doing. Ed wasn’t working when I had a STROKE and from here on my brother had to care for my husband and I.

    Ed passed away and my daughter & her family had to move to the states for medical treatment of two of my granddaughter and for better education of my grandchildren. My mother had to move to my house in Tiyan, from Maina Village to care for me. My sister and three (3) brothers would take turns on a daily basis on assisting me, due to my disability. Till this day, my mother still lives with me, cooking meals, laundry and housekeeping. My youngest brother does all the maintenance in and outside the house, pays my obligations to the government, banks and other miscellaneous errands.

    When Ed was in the hospital prior to his passing he told me to please follow up with the VA’s Office on his application on his request for any type of benefits that was entitled to him as a Veteran because he has nothing to give to me, my children, grandchildren, siblings & my mother . I really don’t know what to do at this point and I am asking you to please assist me on this matter. I can only do so much at this time due to my disabilities, needing other needs & assistants like how it was when Ed was still alive.


    Yvonne M.G. Blas

      • No!! I was told that they only assist people during detonation of the bombs, could not assist me and returned my document I submitted to this site!! That Clean Up Vets are not included to receive any benefits or compensation. I guess because he passed that I should forget. That is what I think.

        • Our group of Atomic Cleanup Vets are encountering the same situation with getting assistance from the VA. There have been several attempts to add Atomic Cleanup Veterans to the VA’s definition of Atomic Veterans, but so far all bills have either died in Congress or the Senate. We will continue to urge the U.S. Federal Government to add our group of 8,000+ cleanup veterans to the VA’s Atomic Veterans’ list. Keep your eyes open for petitions and legal notices to sign and add your comments to encourage our government to do the RIGHT THING by helping us get the medical assistance so many of us need.

          • If it can help others, my families I will do what we can. Losing my husband is very hard. If the Government could give me back my husband clean of any illness, I rather have him back, because I am suffering physical & financially. I need as much help to support myself & assistance for my disability & families caring for me. To stay, care, cook, clean, do errands, chores to maintain my home in & out. It’s coming to the point where my families can’t hear me!! My mom is getting sickly or they sometimes don’t hear me!! Thank you for the info & I hope this will work. To help every one!!

  14. Does anyone have any of the monthly newsletters that where sent out in the 60′ about the island tests plus the test out in NV? I remember my dad reading it to see who were left? He talked about scrubbing the ship down after the explosion ( when they were hot) plus being in a ditch in NV. He was a marine and a very proud one. He also said they use to put the bomb together in flight. Mom would say that he always had a bag packed and left it by the front door. There probably no one left alive but if there is would love to find out more about what went on. My older brother was born in NV or where the families lived and was born with health problems

  15. I too was a Lojwa Animal, serving from April to September 1978. Most of my tour was spent blasting structures and cleaning up the results of our work on Enjebi and many days were spent crawling through rubble and film chambers setting explosives. The team work was the best in the military and at the time I thought I was doing a great service not only for the Enewetak people but for the country that would always have my back when I needed help. I’m not sure how to proceed with dealing with the V.A. but will be contacting my local house representative and state senator. Like so many others, I have thyroid problems, total knee replacement because of arthrtis, joint and neck pains, and now I have to have a mamogram because of a lump on my breast. Not looking for compensation, just some help and guideness. Seems like every country in the world deserves more consideration then the men and women that served in the Marshall Islands thinking they were doing the right thing. I hope all of us someday get the recognition I believe we deserve.

  16. Hello,
    I am the wife of one of the many Enewetak Atoll Clean Up Vets. I met my husband shortly after he was honorable discharged. I have witnessed first hand all the health issues caused from exposure to ionizing radiation. In the beginning we had no idea that his health issues as well our children’s health issues were related to radiation exposure. Since becoming members of some of the groups and listening to all the similarities of each veterans stories, I have come to realize that it is not just a coincidence that these soldiers and there families are experiencing many of the same ailments. It is a sin that our government continues to deny them there benefits and HUMANE medical care. It is our goal and plight to make sure that these soldiers get there benefits prior to their deaths. Many of these soldiers are dying do to exposure of ionizing radiation.

  17. In the South Pacific the testing began in 1946 and continued until 1964—and then much of the so-called clean up began—and has gone on with little public revelations whatsoever. The Veterans Administration is worthless without adequate appropriations by the Congress—which constantly carries the tune of lowering taxes, reducing military budgets, denying the government responsibility of service personnel being exposed to ionizing radiation except for minimal compensation to veterans suffering from physical problems directly related to those exposures.
    A disgruntled Navy veteran, 1951-1954, exposed to one Hydrogen Bomb and one Atomic Bomb, September-November 1952.

  18. I was a participant maneuvering with an atomic bomb at Yucca Flats, NV on 1 November, 1951. We have never been told thank you. The people do not even know this.

  19. I was on Enewetak in 1956 for the bomb test. As a result, I developed prostate cancer and had to have my prostate removed. This was a presumed problem (listed in the VA information) but the VA said that it had to occur within 30 years for it to be covered for benefits. Get your claims in as soon as possible or you will be out of luck.

    • My prayers go out for you Robert Spires. I’ve seen videos of some of those tests. It is hard to believe the federal government subjected you and other veterans to that degree of radiation exposure and not treat your health situations later in life. Have you looked into The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act? I may be mistaken, but I believe it does not have a 30 year limitation. http://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca.html

  20. My name is Gary Pulis and was a brand new SP-4 when “voluntold” I was going to Enewetak Atoll. I was on the Atoll from Apr to Oct ’79 as a 62E10 (Heavy Equipment Operator). I ran dozers and front-end loaders my whole time there along with a road grader every once in a while.
    As with most others, we were never told of the dangers of our mission nor were we given any sort of protective gear. Not even a simple paper mask. I breathed in all sorts of dust and who knows what else. Since returning I have remained fairly healthy up until I was 35 yrs old. That is when I had my first “cardiac event” (showing all the signs of a heart attack but no damage detected) at 44 yrs old I had a 2nd with the same results. Over the last 10 years I been diagnosed with and unstable angina, heart murmur, type II diabetes and just 2 yrs ago I had a massive asthma attack (having never had asthma before). I have also had (and continue to have) skin issues (that doctors can not explain) and general aches and pains in most of my joints. Since finding others that were on the Atoll, all the pieces are coming together. All these aliments could be related to my exposure to radiation.
    I must say being on Enewetak was the best and worse duty I ever had. The best due to the team work, operating time and relaxed atmosphere we worked in. the worse due to what we were exposed to and our governments continued refusal to assist us with our health issues and coming forth with the truth about our exposure.

  21. I was assigned duty on Enewetak in September 1978 thru February 1979. I was the craft-master of a Navy Warping Tug. Our mission was to move large dump trucks and other vehicles carrying contaminated dirt from outer islands to the island of Runit. My crew and I were exposed to dirt, radiation and the hot sun daily. Some times the temperature would be over 120 degrees with 100% humidity. We lived in wooden structures on these islands, ate on our meals in the contaminated areas of the islands, drank water, took saltwater showers. We never questioned the mission, this was our job, but we were never told the real danger of what we were doing and the long term health problems we might and some times incurred. I completed 20 years in the US NAVY in 1987, I have had lots of physical and medical problems since that time. I am now a diabetic, I have lesions that have grown on my skin, I have had some of these removed in the past few years but some still come back.
    It seems the Military, the US Government have not been truthful to any of us as we have learned the half life of Cesium 235 is 10,000 years so the bombs were exploded in the 1950’s so I guess 1977 it was safe. We who served our country need to be recognized and treated for the problems that have come upon us. When our country needed us we answered the call, no questions asked. Maybe if we had know the danger of the mission we might have had other thoughts for our families and our own future. I believe most of us are now in our 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s. Some have passed on, some are very ill, some are going to get sick, we need someone from our government to say we will help. That is really all we want…..

  22. I was stationed in Hawaii with C/65th Engr Bn as a Sgt/E5 and was sent to Eniwetok in Jul 79 through Oct 79. I was part of the pour crew on the dome on Runit until it was completed. There was a safe hut off to the side of the dome at which you were allowed to remove your mask to drink water and take a smoke break. After the dome pad completion we would walk the reefs picking up metal to be added to the concrete or placed in the crypt that was added to the south side of the dome. We were not allowed to see what the Geiger counters were beeping at of how contaminated the metal pieces were. No radiological badges because if they got wet then they were useless. The only protection we had against the radiation was a paper mask (to block Alpha and Beta particles, and it was useless to guard against Gama due to the high temperatures daily), yellow boots that were taped with masking tape at the top because they longer had the elastic band to button or because they were to large to fit tight around your legs and you did not want to have concrete filling them up. There was no protection once you went wading in the water of the reef and then it was just your jungle boots. Every day wear was boonie hat, OG T-shirt, shorts, combat boots with green socks. Underwear was optional because of the hot weather chafing was a real problem and once you had it it was almost impossible to get rid of. Living on Lojwa in the tin quonset huts with little or no privacy, and little to do other than go to the movies and drink beer was primitive at best. As the crews were being drawn down and the needs of the Army become more (equipment operators) on a daily basis I was moved to Eniwetok its self to work on Medren, to operate Dozers, Bucket Loaders, 13 Ton dump Trucks, and a make shift batch plant. My job consisted of demolishing a pier made of reinforced concrete with metal containment walls, pull metal from the deep water passage on the north end of the island, loading the metal on the dump truck and then loading the truck on a LCU to be taken to Reunit to be unloaded and then returned. All of the equipment I operated was deep-sixed because it was too costly to repair and clean due to the contamination of radioactive materials It made good reef building material and my guess it would eventually disintegrate due to the salt water of the ocean. I now suffer from Arthritis in every joint in my body to include my breast bone and ribs, backbone. I also wear hearing aids because of the ringing in my ears. Have almost uncontrollable GERD. Eyesight that comes and goes even with the aid of glasses. I still do not have any of the medical records that were promised from the Rock. The United States government does not to acknowledge that we were guinea pigs during the first ever radiological cleanup exercise conducted in the world. We did not complain when we were sent on this real world mission because we were at the service of the United States and service men and women from all of the branches of service. We were promised that we would be taken care of. What a joke that was and is. If you ask a doctor about how the radiation could be affecting your health, the standard answer is that you have not received enough radiation to cause any problems, at least according to your records. My plea to our Congressional leaders is that we be added to the Atomic Veterans.

  23. I was there from November 1978 to May 1979. When I first got there I worked at the hole pumping concrete in the hole with things brought from the other islands. Then I went to the rock crusher then finally to the track drill. As the others said never had the badge or banana suit. Taped up rubber boots and dust mask. I’ve never had my self checked but for years now my joints in my knees and hands are giving me so much pain. Never thought much about it till getting in touch with my fellow animals. Time for this government to step up.

  24. I served from October 1977 to March 1978. I picked up debris, usually radioactive to some degree, by hand. We were issued radiation badges but we could not wear them. Due to if they got wet they were useless. Being in and out of the water in the lagoon side reefs we dragged up tons of metal, thousands of unspent munitions and even bombs. We worked in nuclear bomb craters and on the beaches removing debris by hand. I recall many times after we had dragged up some metal junk two Air Force guys would come and spray it red for contaminated. Yet we didn’t know how much the metal or how much we where exposed to. The fact is when I did get the results of my “testing” it showed nothing! Not even background radiation. I spent six months on islands that literally had to be scraped clean for radiation contamination and not one sign of exposure?

  25. I was there from April of 1978 to Sept. of 1978. When I first arrived I was assigned to clean up hot spots of all types of Radioactive debris, Items that were located by another team and left for the suckers to pick up. It didn’t matter what the element was. Example: Plutonium, Uranium, Strontium, Americium, Cobalt, if it was hot you picked it up with your bare hands and put it into your gunny sack. When they started the encryption phase, I was moved to the Batch Plants, getting them operational and ready for making radioactive concrete. I started making Hot concrete in June of 78, and made it 6 or 7 days a week sometimes. We wore Banana suits for a while till people nearly died from heat stroke. Then I wore a paper filter mask and yellow rain boots for protection. This was supposed to be because the threat somehow mysteriously became less contaminated. We had a separation screening plant there where all the debris from other islands was screened for foreign material. We found lots of unusual things: Bombs, mortars, shells, bullets, grenades, and I have had the pleasure of a floating mine fall out of the bucket loader and land near me. And I made Radioactive concrete daily, yet even though I work specifically with only Hot material, I never received a dose sheet reading until my urine jug showed up positive. I handled things the Air Force people said many times (“You’re too close. Go throw that thing into the crater.”) and I would be thirty feet away. I know I received lots of radiation. It was “Impossible” in my job not to, yet they say you received none. Who’s lying? You be the Judge and still denied a claim for compensation.

    • Hello my name Tom Buotte was there same time u were there I remember you running the batch plant I was driving the cement trucks have some pic of u mold in the cement trucks. Air Force with scan us to see if you had radiation on us and if we were hot we had to go swimming. Where we bought the cement truck at night you should be assigned me I keep off the beach put plutonium we have walk every inch of most of those islands over there

  26. I too was deployed to Enewetak, and received the Humanitarian Service Medal, for working on the ramps where the Army LARCS, Navy LCUs and LCMs loaded and unloaded supplies and materials. I too was issued a film badge which was supposed to be recorded into my medical records. I was stationed at Fort Hood, TX. when I received my orders to go to Enewetak. Prior to my departure I was given one of the most complete medical exams I had ever received. While deployed on Enewetak there was a typhoon that crossed over the atoll. We where all told to go into the concrete building we called the hotel. It was supposed to be able to with stand 180 knot winds. With the exception of several windows sucked out or blown in on the ocean side of the building we where safe from the storm. However, during the 24 hour duration of the storm, the entire inside of the building had a build up of dust about a 1/4 thick by the end. At the end of my tour I went back to Fort Hood, TX. and redone the same medical exam. Upon completion of these exams I was told they would send the records and results and a copy of my film badge readings to my TMC. The results never arrived at my TMC. Not the before, during or after results, were in my medical records. The only thing connected to my deployment is when a skiff fell off a stand onto my foot. I currently suffer from low thyroid and have arthritis in my shoulders and hands since 1991. I have been told that the main reason for thyroid failure is exposure to radiation. I went to the V.A. hospital and was told that the only connection to radiation that I could claim was from a direct blast from a bomb. Because I was not in any blast I am unable to claim any benefits or disability from the Veterans Administration. THANK YOU NOT CONGRESS

  27. I was stationed at Coronado NAB Base in San Diego 1978-80. I was sent overseas to the Marshall Islands on a Cleanup Project. My duties as an Engineman was to take Seal team to Dive site and blow up rusting boats, ships, and to move rusting debris in shallow water to deeper water. I was in Lojwa nine months, working 18 hour days.
    It was 135 plus degrees on the Island. Add the heat plus the temp in the engine room which was _?_ There were no repair parts, if something broke you had to find a way for it to work or get written up.
    We were fed prime rib, shrimp, steaks. We ate well. And you could buy a quart of your favorite booze for $3.00. We all had a job to do. We all had film badges. Never! Never! Knew the results. The reply we all got was, It is classified information. Once underway to a clean up site we had an Air Force person who had a Geiger counter which reads radiation levels. We were close to the dive site – the needle was all over to the right side – in the red! The Air Force person said don’t worry there may be a short in the unit and quickly turned it off! Daily requirements for working was, boots, shirts, buck knife. Taking a leather class on Sunday afternoon, I made a case to hold my $3.00 dollar a habit – Seagram’s 7.
    There was no power, we slept on dirt floors in tin shacks.
    We all were proud to serve! Now the Government has buried its head in the sand! They knew the risks we all faced! It’s time for the Government to step up! I have constant ringing in my ears! Arthritis, Peripheral, Neuropathy, Among aches and pains. I have read many stories of personnel that served on the Radiation Rock! Many are gone at early ages, many still suffering. If you were there add your post! – Polecat

    • I also was there. I was a Seabee. I ran a dozer. I worked with EOD. Did engine work on boats. I was a mechanic from ACB 1 Cornadocalf. Now I am having health problems.

  28. My name is Paul Laird ll. I was stationed at Schofield Barracks with the 84th Engineer Battalion Combat Heavy. In May of 1977, I was part of the first group advance party sent to Enewetak for the purpose of clearing the land on the island of Lojwa for the set up of buildings to house more troops as the project proceeded. I spent long hours bulldozing in very hot, dry and dusty conditions. We did this work in combat boots, shorts and t-shirts. We had no protective dust masks and were told they were on back order. We showered under 55 gal. drums filled with ocean water that still contained contaminated debris. I now have suffered through bladder cancer three times and continue to be checked for recurrence. I have had kidney cancer and had part of my right kidney removed and live with discomfort daily. I am also diabetic and have high blood pressure, have lived with many unexplained body, bone, and general aches and pains. Some hearing loss. Probably from time spent on a D-8 K bulldozer for days on end. I can only hope that congress can see the connection of all my brothers and I and the health issues we are suffering with!! God bless us all!!

  29. Perhaps there are some reading this site that I have to use some title that along with pulling out $1.00 will get me a cup of coffee. My faith needs no titles, yet some lend credence to others conveyence of them. But, the most hideous thing is to encourage people going through health issues and even terminal health issues that involve denied or ignored military service. I can’t open my mouth and say “I know how you feel” even though I do! I love my country. My government sucks however. So, why do I use this title? Because God is the ONLY way that I can cope with the health problems of myself and others with root from being on the Enewetak Atoll Cleanup Project for NINE MONTHS. I watched others have their rad cards lost, their urine bottles filled with water and dropped instead of making them stay to have it done right and records that never made it off the island. I have been in touch with MY band of brothers who have suffered from degenerative arthritis, chronic and acute joint pain, various cancers and a malady of ailments. They are but a few of the casualties. What about those with hideous substance abuse problems seeing that alcohol flowed just as much as water? It was cheaper to buy a fifth of hard liquor than a six-pack of beer! Even my best friend literally drank himself to death there, dying in his own vomit a week after my departure/release. Yet, we were told all was safe and that our military would never turn its back on us. I was twenty years old and would fight a platoon of Vikings if you spoke against my Uncle Sam. Enewetak was the only place in my then military career where I never witnessed any racial tensions. Memories of my brothers are powerful in the execution of duties. Memories of the Army are scarred in the destruction and callous handling of life altering verification material. If someone would have told me in 1979 that I would feel this way or this “paradise” would affect me later in life, I may have been court-martialed for practicing dentistry without proper licensure. I join with you all.

  30. My name is Vern Bates. I was on the LARCs when I first got to Enewetak Island. We stayed there for what they called the southern clean-up. Then we went to Lojwa Island. I was on Lojwa for about 3 months. The 309th Transportation Detachment sent us over there for 4 months at a time. We hauled whatever they loaded on the LARC. Some of the loads went to what they called the YC Barge and was dumped in the water. And what they said was hot, we took all that to Runit Island and put it in the hole. That’s what us on the LARCs called the Cactus Crater. I know there are some men that I served with that are having trouble with their health. And the same government that sent us over there is saying “Who are you?” as if they never knew us.

  31. I was there a little over three months, mid Aug. 78 thru Nov. 78. I was stationed on Lojwa and went out to one the Islands, by boat, each day, usually Runit, to do radiological monitoring as a member of a FRST (Field Radiation Support Team) team.

    You are 100% correct Tina-Marie. It is most certainly a “Love Us and Leave Us” arrangement we have with the US Government, Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Many years ago I was told I was an “Atomic Veteran” and I had benefits available to me. I was told, “All you need to do is ask for them”. I believe that was 1996 or 1997 when I first started exploring this wonderful thing we call the “World Wide Web” now simply known as “The Internet”. I remember doing a search on Enewetak and all kinds of things popped up on my screen. I stayed up all night reading about a staggering amount of Cancers associated with the work we did there. I even saved all the websites to my favorites and didn’t do anything about it. Unfortunately, I did not print out everything I found at the time and those blogs and websites are no longer active. I did not go out and apply for benefits or ask for hand outs. Quite honestly, I didn’t think I was entitled to anything. I didn’t feel like I really did anything for my country. I just did my job. Since then I have had a multitude of medical problems. No, I have not been diagnosed with Cancer but I have a host of other problems I am learning are associated with the type of work we did and my daughter has reproductive system disorders, also known to be caused by the material we were exposed to. Currently, I am on a leave of absence, from my job, while I am on long term disability.

    Last year I applied for benefits from the VA and got a form letter telling me I wasn’t entitled to any because I didn’t claim them sooner and I was placed in “category eight” meaning I would NEVER receive any medical benefits from my military service. I went to the VA Hospital itself and applied and the intake Coordinator told me I didn’t have any rights to file a claim for. I told him I was an “Atomic Veteran”, as I had been told, incorrectly I now understand, he said “Yeah, good luck proving that!!” I explained to him I have every piece of paper given me at the time, I have the original orders, I was even given a Humanitarian Service Medal for the work I did there. Then I was sent over to see one of the service organization people to help me fill out the correct paperwork. Although the office was officially closed, she was still there and talked with me as I explained my situation to her. She took out a form and wrote on it “EXPEDITE: HOMELESS VET”. I protested I did NOT want that title and that I had a place to stay and a chair to sleep in. No, it wasn’t mine, but I was allowed to use it. She handed me the form and said fill this out, bring it back and I will help you. I tried to explain to her ALL of my service records had been mysteriously lost. I even had to go to my congressman to get a copy of my DD214 in 1981 WHILE I WAS STILL ACTIVE RESERVE!! I further explained I just moved to Southern CA to be close to my children but all of my papers were in boxes in storage and I did not have access to them. Well, I just found them and as it turns out, I have copies of every piece of paper ever given to me. Now I will need to go back to the VA and apply for benefits again and given them copies of my copies. I most certainly will not give the VA my original copies of anything. I will keep you guys posted on the results of further action.

    I was told I needed to apply to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, formerly known to us as the Defense Nuclear Agency. I did as I was told and was laughed at by the ladies there. They said I was too young and that to qualify I had to have been part of the testing that ended in 1958 or a POW housed around Hiroshima or Nagasaki. She then told me I could apply as a dependent, if my Father was there. I explained again I was there cleaning up all the destruction we (the United States) did to the Marshall Islands. She said she would send in the paperwork for it. Several weeks later, I received a packet from the DTRA stating I did not turn in my dosimeter (a device each of us was issued when we got to Enewetak and had to turn in before we left Enewetak. As such, I have no record of any exposure to Ionizing Radiation. I know each of us were required to turn in a 24 hour urine specimen so that it could be tested for radioactive matter to be determined by The Occupational and Environmental Health Lab (OEHL), Brooks AFB, San Antonio, TX, 78235. The Film badges, otherwise known as pocket dosimeters, were sent to the Blue Grass Arsenal, somewhere in Kentucky.

    There is another irony to this situation. I was stationed at Brooks AFB myself and when I was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal for my work in Enewetak, every person in the OEHL at Brooks AFB received the same medal simply because the urine samples went there!! Realistically, when you are testing any biological material, you were the exact same PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). That PPE consists of a gown, gloves, mask or face shield and is the same thing they wore everyday while we were 2700 miles southwest of Hawaii on a rock with temperatures that reached a high of 147 degrees, on one day. Yes, we monitored that too.

    Let’s hear some more stories guys!

  32. Although I was only there for a couple of days in 1977 on the way to Wespac with Assault Craft Unit 1, I never realized what a dangerous mission this was for all servicemen. I’ve been starting to wonder what is in store for me as I age. I sure hope that our great country takes care of everyone who has sustained some sort of health problem due to this cleanup. Take care everyone and God bless you all!

  33. Not meaning to come across as blase, but your groups’ situation seems like yet ANOTHER ‘Love ’em and leave ’em story by our federal government. They needed something done, your group filled the need and now, decades later when you need your government, they (Congress, VA, Military) are all looking the other way. How many of THEM served in the Marshall Islands? Enewetak Atoll specifically? Aside from the Congressmen/woman who represent those areas in the Pacific, I’d grant you not many. You men LIVED there and handled radioactive materials on a daily basis. The LEAST our government can do is acknowledge your service and give you access to the care you currently seek/need.

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