We are but a few of the Survivors of the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission in the Marshall Islands.
Our Original Mission was to remove radioactive fallout and debris from the surface of the islands of Enewetak Atoll so the dri-Enewetak Islanders could return to their beautiful homeland of Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
We understand most people have no clue as to the meanings of many of the words and phrases we use when we refer to our experiences at Enewetak Atoll.
That is why we decided to create a Glossary of Words and Phrases that can help reduce the confusion while you visit AtomicCleanupVets.com
We seem to get the most blank stares and looks of bewilderment when we say most of the soldiers and civilians at Enewetak Atoll were Lojwa Animals.
Here are some important facts and opinions about Lojwa Animals:
- The atomic cleanup mission’s base camp for heavy equipment operators and manual labor force soldiers was housed on the island of Lojwa.
- Most of the buildings on the island were wood framed on concrete slabs with tin covered walls and roofs.
- Those who cleared Lojwa Island of vegetation and built the structures slept on cots in tents during that phase of the mission.
- Soldiers were scheduled to work 6 days a week, 10 hours each day, during their nearly six month TDY tours.
- Temperatures dropped below 100 degrees at night
- Many of the soldiers who lived on Lojwa compared the hard labor of cleaning Enewetak Atoll to the age-old stories of prison chain gangs.
- The popular consensus was that prisoners could not be used to perform the work because it would be considered inhumane.
- Unless I am mistaken, no one knows who first coined the phrase “Lojwa Animal.”
- The soldiers who called themselves Lojwa Animals felt as if they were being treated as animals. The phrase stuck.
- T-shirts were made. Jokes and stories were exchanged. Beer was bought. Fights happened. Everyone worked together the day after.
There are more phrases and words needing to be explained but only one per post as we build our Glossary for better understanding.
We joke for stress relief. But we worked hard and took pride in what we accomplished. Most peacetime construction work in the military were training exercises. This project had meaning. We actually got to do real work using the skills we were taught to do.
Continue to learn more about us from various resources shared by supporters and cleanup participants in future AtomicCleanupVets.com articles. Our articles contain photographs, videos, documents and stories written by the actual participants who cleaned radioactive contaminated soils and materials from the surface of the islands at Enewetak Atoll.
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.
Our Current Mission is to help health challenged Atomic Cleanup Veterans become included in the Veterans Administration’s definition of an Atomic Veteran so we can qualify to apply for funds set aside for veterans “who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”