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.”
State Representative Lisa Villa of Maine is our group’s first political supporter. She’s not the first political supporter who has fought for atomic cleanup veterans’ rights and failed. She is OUR GROUP’s first political supporter since Gary Pulis created our Facebook Group July 4, 2012.
I learned she took an interest in our difficulties while talking with Atomic Cleanup Veteran Paul Laird.
Paul tells me that Lisa was getting her car serviced at his family’s business recently and he got to talking about Enewetak and his health challenges.
Paul was one of the bull dozier operators who cleared an island of vegetation and contaminated soils so the Lojwa Base Camp could be built to house soldiers that would scrape and pick up as much radioactive soils and debris as directed by the guys in radiation suits holding Geiger Counters.
Paul worked ten hour days six days a week covered with contaminated soils. The wind carried dust from his dozier’s bucket from the time he scraped the soils until he placed it in the dump trucks. He says by the end of the day, all you could see were the whites of his eyes and his teeth if he smiled.
Jungle boots, socks, short pants, t-shirt, jungle shirt and hat was his standard uniform. Nothing worn to protect him from the dusty contaminated soils from going into his mouth or nose. He was told painter’s masks were on back order.
Paul says his medical chart lists challenges with Renal cell carcinoma in his kidney, situ carcinoma in his bladder, hearing loss, diabetes, and high blood pressure even though he looks to be in good physical shape!
Lisa Villa not only took the time to listen to Paul’s story, but Lisa took the time to befriend our group and pay attention to our challenges. She took notes and got others involved.
Then, she mentioned the Enewetak Atoll Cleanup Mission Veterans’ struggles during her speech at the Maine State House of Representatives floor debate of LD 1487. “An Act to Implement Managed Care in the MaineCare Program”.
Thank you Lisa Villa!
We urge our supporters to encourage their politicians to create legislation which will include all Marshall Island Atomic Cleanup Veterans in the U.S. Government Veterans Administration’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.
Thanks goes to Paul Laird for sharing his experiences at Enewetak Atoll and his conversations with Lisa Villa.
High praise goes to Lisa Villa for not only taking an interest in our plight, but standing up and talking about it with politicians who can help her help us.
Much appreciation goes to Andrea Parkinston for capturing Lisa Villa’s speech and posting it on her YouTube channel.
Credit goes to Bridgton Library for publishing Lisa Villa’s speech in their Newsletter.