Health Challenges Survey Report

Boat Ride Home

The Boat Ride Home – These soldiers are riding in the same vessel that transported radioactive materials during the atomic cleanup mission. They are the soldiers who picked up radioactive materials to be transported. See the uniforms they are wearing? And their great suntans? Notice a lack of protection gear for their exposure to radiation?

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 relocate and entomb 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 40 Islands in the Marshall Islands.

We accomplished our Humanitarian Mission in 1980. Currently, some of us have health challenges related to cleaning up radiation produced by 43 atomic bombs tested in the Pacific Proving Grounds during the Cold War’s Atomic Test Program.

On May 6th 2014, we started collecting information about our health challenges.

As of November 15th 2015, we have 323 responses to our survey.

264 responded to the question “Do you have any health challenges which may be related to radiation exposure?” 153 said Yes, and 111 said No. The remaining 59 (of the 323) respondents did not reply to the question.

Comments vary from good to bad, but here are how 175 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Veterans answered the question: “Comments about your health challenges.” Respondent names have been omitted for privacy reasons. And some information has been edited to maintain confidential information.

  • None known at this time.
  • None at the present time.
  • Chronic joint pain and swelling. Severe cramping of large muscles. Causes paralysis while cramping. Occurs mainly in large muscles in legs. Numbness of feet and hands, liver disease (not alcohol related). Prostate problems, UT problems. Mental Health issues: anger management, ADD, inability to commit (flight instinct). He had 38 different jobs, fired only twice, went AWOL for 32 days after returning from Enewetak. It has also effected his personal/social life as he does not connect with people often, not even family members. Will update with more specific information when his medical file is received and his Physician is able to look at it. Please use this info only if and share with whom it is a necessity, He is a very private person and was hesitant about sharing his information, but he wants to help the other men and believes in the group’s mission.
  • Loss of teeth and a stroke.
  • I currently have Diabetes, Hypertension, Deterioration of Disc in my Spine, Joints are worn in both knees they both need knee replacements (Arthritis) is sitting slowly went to see for Surgery on Spine a High Risk factor so I am on Medical retirement, also having Heart problems carry Nitro pills with me everywhere I go, Bad eye sight and bad hearing starting to set in.
  • Numerous skin cancers and recently prostate cancer.
  • Prostate Cancer which turned into bone cancer, cough, and flushing.
  • Melanoma tumor removed on my left wrist 6 years ago. Doing okay now.
  • I have a lot of bone and joint issues. I had surgery when I was 32 and the doctor told me that my knees looked like I was in my 50’s. I had a cat scan about 3 years ago on my shoulders and collar bone area. The surgeon that I was going to was an old military surgeon. He told me he had never seen anything like it. The disks were just basically gone and my bone spurs were the worst he had seen. He sent me to another specialist. I also have a muscle disease. Plus a couple other things.
  • Colon Cancer.
  • Respiratory problems, skin cancers, constant cough.
  • Severe joint pain and swelling, severe cramping of large muscles, causes temporary paralysis, chronic fatigue, prostate concerns, numbness of feet, mental health issues: anger management.
  • Bone and joint issues as well as problems with my teeth due to loss of calcium.
  • Thank the Lord I’m doing well!
  • Skin condition, hives and swelling. Lung condition, COPD and tumor in left lung.
  • I have a myriad of health issues that I know are directly related to the island. Gallbladder cancer, bladder cancer, diabetes, heart disease, skin issues, joint issues–all of which have caused emotional, mental issues.
  • Discoloration on my legs related to radiation.
  • Kidney transplant patient.
  • Have the normal aches and pains of age. Had asthma as a child so I don’t know if slight breathing problems are from virus’s of winter or anything serious from visiting the island for a couple of days.
  • Started having terrible headaches upon returning to my duty station in the states still have them today thin skin thyroid trouble.
  • Discoloration in my ankles that doctors say may be related to radiation exposure.
  • Melanoma.
  • Enlarged Prostrate Heart Failure Skin Conditions.
  • Severe bone loss.
  • When I returned from TDY I was diagnosed with a growth on my right cheek. And a portion of my salivary gland was removed. And this was in 79. I was told by the dr. that it was only a growth. And that was it. But since the operation in 79, my right cheek has been numb and at times I still feel a real sharp pain and don’t know why. And the va is investigating by sending me to independent Drs. To evaluate this problem. And I guess that I just have to wait for a decision.
  • Have some health issues, but not sure if they are related to my time on Enewetak. Doctors believe there could be a possibility.
  • No health issues as of yet.
  • Bone and Joint diseases Heart Disease. Liver Problems (Non-alcoholic).
  • Stage III-C Colon Cancer, Skin rashes (Jungle Rot), PTSD, Sleep issues since leaving Lojwa, Anxiety since leaving Lojwa, Hammer Toes from running in Jump Boots at Ft. Bragg, Teeth started to splinter and crack very soon after leaving Lojwa, All Residuals from Chemotherapy, Knee and Ankle Issues, Nightmares, Claustrophobia, Fear of Crowds, All Three Offspring suffer from disorders that can also be linked to my exposure to Ionizing Radiation.
  • Breathing issues and Lung problems.
  • Really not sure if health concerns are Eniwetok related but no cancers to date!
  • Cancer but doing better now.
  • Twenty years later my lymph nodes exploded!! in groin started have sleep apnea ,and lower legs neuropathy quad by pass heart condition, body had arthritic sepsis left leg aggressive osteo arthritis in knees and hips and joints at the same time diabetes type 2 with oral and insulin to try to control in 2009 put in wheelchair to present 2014 had i known this was going to do this to my DNA every short of cancer and still waiting for shoe to drop on that! it has just kicked me hard almost lost the battle in 2012 but my wife and kids would not give up on me so i tried to stay active and do valor games!! and paralmypic sports community based and kept going and the VA keeps playing the same tune deny till i croak!!
  • Multiple heart attacks, multiple hernias, arthritis, and prostate problems.
  • My health problems are often labeled as “some type of Autoimmune issues yet to be understood.” My daughter also has some of the same type gynecological problems experienced by the female children of other Atomic Veterans as well as the islanders themselves.
  • Melanoma , several spots, some removed 10 yrs after my duty in Enewetak , the keep coming back.. Seem to have copd or something , have bouts of breathing problems.
  • I have the greatest pair of Lojwa socks. I have just had Aortic Valve replacement surgery. My cardiologist and surgeon stated that the condition of the valve is “more likely that not” due to exposure to radiation.
  • Diagnosed with having Diabetes.
  • I wonder if some of my health problems are because of our trip there. My breathing problems are my biggest problem. While playing softball I had a mishap and slid off of a base and scraped the skin off of one of my legs the size of a Texas softball. We were told that while playing there was to be no sliding because of possible radiation in the soil. For a week I was not allowed to do any of my normal work. I had a scab a quarter inch thick and green in color where I scraped up my leg. I sat in A gangs work area with my foot in a bucket of water and used a sponge to run the water over the scab for a week. There is nothing in my record because on board ship the corpsmen did not keep any records.
  • Had to have my left lung removed because of cancer having kidney problems, heart problem, Lupus.
  • Migraines and severe sinusitis that ultimately resulted in 4 sinus surgery’s and an ongoing regiment of drugs and nasal cleanses that keep me for the most part healthy.
  • Unknown.
  • Rather not say at this juncture.
  • Unknown.
  • I have a paralyzed right hemi diaphragm of the lung since 1993
  • I have Coronary Artery Disease, Diabetes, Osteo Arthritis (both knees).
  • Cancer, arthritis, skin rashes, neck problems.
  • NONE.
  • Dermatology issues.
  • Had a heart attack and a bypass surgery in January 2005, which was linked to the high blood pressure which was service connected. Been informed by eye doctor that I have cataract developing not sure if that may be related to the radiation exposure.
  • Hearing loss and skin cancer.
  • Hyperthyroidism, Hypoglycemia, memory loss.
  • When I was on Enewetak I was burnt by gasoline and med. out to Hawaii for the burn unit. After treatment I was returned to state side to D Company 46th Engr Bn at Fort McCellan, AL. I have pictures of Lojwa and the surrounding areas and enjoyed the water and the beauty of Enewetak, and will remember for ever.
  • Severe spinal arthritis, Crohns disease, fertility.
  • Was there. I’m alive.
  • COPD / abdominal aneurysm repaired Oct 3, 12 another near the heart they won’t do that one because of the copd. health care I use at present is Medicare and Tri Care for life.
  • Sleep Apnea Allergic Rhinitis Hay fever Folliculities & Dermatitis.
  • Bad arthritis, joint pain, loss of muscle tone, skin cancer most on the upper body and the head area.very sensitive lips from getting burnt while walking on the reef on Runit. short term memory loss. Note all my problems started about 10 years after leaving enewetak,except for my lips. that was an on going problem since i left enewetak. i have to limit time in the sun and wear a protective cream to keep them from getting sun burn and blistering.
  • I have many stomach and intestinal issues that I feel are probably related to this issue. I also have a lot of joint pain and have for several years. Also, concerns with the health of my 2 youngest children born after my tour in Eniwetok. My daughter has serious intestinal problems that are caused at childbirth. My youngest son has several serious issues to include loss of eye site in one eye.
  • Joint problems Allergies heart problems.
  • Diabetic, can’t have kids.
  • I do not know whether my daily nose bleeds and sinus/allergy issues are a result of things that may have been inhaled there of while I was participating in the redeployment phase of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Personally, I do not l know what are or will be the long term affects that my tenure of service may have on my health but I do know that I do suffer from shortness of breath and must utilize an inhaler and allergy medicine as a part of my daily regiment to help me to breathe properly. However, I would like to make this an official part of my personal medical history since I was assigned to the Marshal Islands, Enewetak Atoll, Joint Task Group, Field Defense Nuclear Agency Workforce from December 1978 through October 1979; and Southwest Asia, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from September – December 1991.
  • Undergoing cancer treatment VA Long Beach.
  • Colon cancer 1995.
  • The VA has already acknowledged my health problems as being from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. I am already rated at 100% disability for Multiple Myeloma and 20% disability for Type II Diabetes. I’m not doing this for my health problems but to be another voice concerning this issue.
  • EVERYTHING FROM BEING CONFINED TO A WHEELCHAIR FROM LOWER BODY NEUORAPTHY HIPS, KNEES, FEET AND AGGRESSIVE ARTHRITIS AND OSTEOARTHRITIS ALL OVER BODY SLEEP APNEA OPEN HEART QUAD BYPASS SURGERY, MASSIVE POTASSIUM LEVELS AND LIVER PROBLEMS.
  • I may or may not…can’t say.
  • None to date so far.
  • Benign bone tumors in rib cage, spinal cord and skull.
  • I have a pituitary adenoma. Had an aortic dissection, copd, hbp. Vision problems.
  • Nothing I am aware of.
  • Renal cancer ~5 years after, suspected this as cause (no family history or other reason known, and surgeon said by doubling factor very likely due to this considering tumor size). Also memory issues, cannot rule this out as contributory factor. Coincidentally, the Army ran the radiation exposure program, and although I turned in my badges, they say they have no record of me, also contacted Defense Nuclear Agency and they also denied I was there…
  • Thyroid issues, glandular problems.
  • None.
  • I am diabetic, Chronic high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglyceride’s. I don’t know if it is related or not.
  • Cancer.
  • Not at this time.
  • Lung problem, gout and liver problem.
  • Cancer and bone joint damage.
  • Arthritis.
  • Seeking presumptive review of spine, bone, and esophageal issues as a result of service. Had two cysts removed from my are in 1979, Tripler Army Medical Center from my year on the island.
  • Skin cancers.
  • None that I know of. but I’ve never been checked either.
  • Got type 1 diabetes a few years after leaving, last couple of years have lost all energy just want to sleep all the time.
  • Been trying to get proof that I was there for 15 years now…they cant find the paper work. All I have is a piece of paper that has my name on it with a picture of the islands and other stuff
  • Losing hair headaches etc.
  • Congestive heart failure.
  • I’ve gotten type 2 diabetis and also being treated for high blood pressure and arthritis.
  • Brother in law who served with me during the cleanup got cancer about 2 yrs after returning home.
  • Rod died of kidney and renal cell cancer several years ago. He was my ex-husband. I am adding his name to this roster to record his involvement and service to the military that ultimately killed him due to the radiation exposure he suffered.
  • Unexplained seizures, Unexplained Aortic spasms. 3 unexplained TIA Strokes, degenerative spine disease. Migraines that began after I served. Radiation sickness 4 times.
  • Got type 1 diabetes three years after after tour, loss of energy down at times waiting for whatever is going to happen.
  • I am not sure if the challenges are related to Enewetak.
  • HE HAD HEART ISSUES AND SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK IN 1986, HE ALSO HAD A QUADRUPLE BYPASS IN 1993 AND CATASTROPHIC HEART ATTACK IN 2004. I AM HIS SON AND HAVE LITTLE TO NO INFO ON HIS MILITARY SERVICE. I MYSELF AM A SOLDIER AND WOULD VERY MUCH LIKE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT HIS LIFE. PLEASE HELP.
  • Congestive Heart Failure.
  • Been dealing with muscle aches, cramping and diabetes.
  • Thyroid problem.
  • Severe spinal and joint problems.
  • Brain tumor, Epilepsy, Seizure disorder, dental problems.
  • Sterile.
  • Maybe? Hypothyroidism.
  • Had lung cancer, they had to remove my left lung . Then two year later I was told I had lupus.I all so have failing kidneys. They have me on 2,160 mg Myforic. It’s a kidney drug.
  • Bad memories, arthritis both shoulders and neck.
  • Had numerous carcinoma cell removed from hands and carcinoma and basil cells removed from face.
  • Cataracts.
  • High red cell count . Thyroid lump remove. coaxle polyp sinus cavity Caldwell luc procedure most common area of coaxle polyp Marshall Islands with a 2 percent occurrence world wide.
  • Arthritis, joint pain, thyroid, possible breast cancer.
  • N/A.
  • I was diagnosed with a couple of different things. One was retinal degeneration and this was many years ago soon after returning from the rock. Also a rash that seemed to linger for along time. my doc said it was from constant immersion in salt water and sunburns.
  • No challenges at this time.
  • Diabetes, hypertension, heart and stroke problems.
  • Fatigue and Post traumatic stress.
  • I was diagnosed with Acute Myolitic Leukemia in 2011. Received Stem Cell Transplant (formerly called bone marrow transplant) in 2011.
  • I have a few health issues but nothing that can be specifically linked to radiation exposure. I’ve completed my enrollment in the VA health system using my Vietnam Agent Orange exposure and my Enewetak radiation exposure. I was given a battery of test as part of enrolling me in the Agent Orange/Radiation Exposure Registries. I have a doctor’s appoint in Sept 2014. The results of the tests were consistent with tests I’ve had with my primary physician. I’m retired from the military and covered under TRICARE.
  • Just getting old.
  • Yes thyroid problems and pain.
  • I have breast cancer and Lymph nodes cancer on my left side Still waiting on other test results. Have had surgery to remove left breast and Lymph Nodes.
  • Deg. bone disease.
  • Had spinal cord tumor.
  • Have a lot headaches and a lump on my back for a few years now.
  • N/A.
  • Private.
  • 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 an 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.
  • Skin cancer(s).
  • Have none at present.
  • Recently diagnosed with Hairy Cell Leukemia. Probable cause high exposure to radiation.
  • I have Osteoporosis, pain in all my joints, Lymphomas.
  • Cellular cancer.
  • Respiratory and bone problems.
  • Acute Random Urticaria with large blisters Diabetes type 2.
  • 3 masses removed from my neck. Keep coming back. pre-cancers on my skin. Always have to have them remove. polyps remove in my colon. Get my colon checked frequently Diabetes Scar tissue in my right eye cataract removal in both eyes.
  • I have had a weird rash on my body since I was there, I have had declining health conditions since being on the islands. I would really like to know what all those shots were that they gave us on Enewetak when we got off the C130. They never got entered into my shot records.
  • Skin cancer and prostate cancer.
  • Had cancer surgery almost ten years ago cancer in a lymph node in my neck thank god clean today.
  • I HAVE HAD LUNG SURGERY, AND A PORTION OF MY LUNG WAS REMOVED.
  • Lost a my left lung to cancer . Lupus and kidney failure.
  • Long history of sinusitis, insomnia. Major breathing issues and cough. Fatigue, anger issues, memory issues. Enlarged prostrate.
  • Currently I have a brain tumor hypothyroidism enlarged prostate high cholesterol high blood pressure diabetic and an aortic aneurysm and I have already had an emergency aortic dissection.
  • Paralyzed right lung.
  • No problems so far.
  • At the age of 26 I started having issues with my legs. I was diagnosed with Peripheral Arterial Disease. Also several breathing issues, Heart Disease with Bypass surgery at 36 years old.
  • I have continuous pain in my legs, arms and hands. I have had numerous growths removed from my neck. I now have more growths on my body. I am diabetic and sometimes have problems breathing.
  • Private at this time. Being treated through VA.
  • Aching joints, had back surgery 20 yeas ago and at time my doctor told me I had the bones of a 70 year old, I was 34 now 55.
  • Not sure, working with Civilian Doctor about some issues.
  • 1983 sent to Walter Reid Medical Ctr. Due to elevated CPK levels, Doctors concerned about my kidney function. 1985 started showing symptoms of Diabetes. 1989 diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes. 2006 parathyroid partially removed. 2007 diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. 2013 kidneys failed.Now on Dialysis. 2014 Diagnosed with prostrate Cancer.
  • Excessive skin cancers, half nose removed major reconstruction. Prostrate cancer 1 year ago.
  • Skin Rashes and Lesions, Parkinson’s, Tinnitus.
  • Skin challenges.
  • Sleep Apnea and Psoriasis, Dermatitis and folliculities.
  • I have a recurring sore at my boot line that has me wondering. In formation we were told high levels were being detected on film badges & dosimeters but not who had the high levels. I would like to know what my exposure rate was while I was there.
  • Radiation burns, unknown rashes,blistering, PTSD, Bone and Joint issues, Hypertension, Late stage colon cancer, low sperm count, and too many others to list. Offspring also suffer from illnesses and defects attributed to a parent exposed to Ionizing Radiation. 43 additional residuals in total.
  • Lung cancer in 95/ head and neck cancer in 2010 /joint problems many more problems.
  • So far I have very few health issues, except those that come with age. I do want my part of the Enewetak Atoll Clean Up Project documented. If I have future health issues, it will be documented.
  • Not that I know of.
  • None so far.
  • Kennedy trouble and skin problems.
  • At this time I have no obvious health challenges.
  • I am in relatively good health at this point.
  • I’ve had multiple skin lesions and cancers removed from my body. I’m now diabetic and no one in my family is or was diabetic. I have multiple spots on my lungs, liver and spleen and they tell me this could have came from where I was raised in Tennessee. I believe the military doctors call it Granulomas. Not sure about the spelling.
  • Early onset of glaucoma and blood now makes to many platelets causing feet and hands to tingle and itch, skin lesions to routinely show up on lower back and lower back pain.
  • Spot on lung being monitored by VA Togus, Unusual liver function test results, triple heart bypass (maybe), hearing problems.
  • Back injuries occurred while stationed at Enewetak Atoll.
  • Cancer.
  • Prostate Cancer.
  • UNKNOWN THYROID CONDITION.
  • Too numerous to go into.

As you can see from our roster survey, not all, but many of our Atomic Cleanup Veterans are experiencing serious health challenges.

We appreciate the relatives who shared information concerning the deaths of some of our Atomic Cleanup Veterans.

We also salute each and every Atomic Cleanup Veteran who helped us get a clearer view of our typical health challenges.

Please let your Federal Representatives know you want them to support Hawaii’s Rep. Mark Takai’s Bill H.R. 3870 Atomic Veterans Healthcare Parity Act.

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 shared 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 (14 month) 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.”

Atomic Cleanup Help Wanted

DNA-Patch

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 relocate 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 40 Islands at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

Atomic Cleanup Help Wanted – The Defense Nuclear Agency is looking for personnel required to clean up radioactive debris and soils contaminating 40 islands in the Marshall Islands located in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean known from 1946 – 1958 as the Pacific Proving Grounds for the U.S. Nuclear Test Era directed by the Atomic Energy Commission.
Forty-three atomic bombs were tested at Enewetak Atoll leaving behind radioactive fallout and debris from over 1100 megatons of yield created by detonating Americium-241, Cesium-137, Cobalt-60, Plutonium-239, Plutonium-240, Strontium-90 and other radioactive elements.
One hour accumulated background radiation levels vary depending on said island. Three of the 40 islands show 62,849 R/h on Runit Island, 3,501 R/h on Enjebi Island, and 651 R/h at the Lojwa Island Base Camp.
The Defense Nuclear Agency has been authorized by the U.S. Federal Government to hire personnel from government approved private sector contractors, various federal government agencies, a government approved marine biology lab, and volunteers from current members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. No hazardous duty pay will be provided. No special health insurance shall be provided. A modest per Diem pay (less daily expenses) shall be provided. Military Transportation shall be provided. Housing (IE: tents with cots, temporary structures with metal bunk-beds and wall lockers, furnished trailers, furnished permanent structures) shall be provided. Meals shall be provided. Laundry shall be provided. Limited medical care shall be provided.
Participants are expected to work ten to twelve hour days, six days a week for the average 179 day assignment. Radiation protective gear (IE: none, painters masks, gas masks, or full radiation suits and equipment) shall be provided.
Amenities include living on at least one of the secluded tropical islands with fantastic views of starlit skies, Pacific Ocean sunrises and Enewetak Atoll’s beautiful lagoon sunsets. Free waterfront activities include: 24 hour day or night waterfront walks or sitting on the beach, watching the waves, collecting shells, watching sea-life (IE: sharks, dolphins, whales, flying fish, parrot-fish, lobsters, etc), fishing for sharks, swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, spearfishing, 12′ sunfish sailing, catamaran sailing, military boat and helicopter rides.) Other amenities may or may not include: retail stores, outdoor theaters, local broadcast television, local broadcast radio, USO Shows, baseball games, jogging, weight lift equipment, barbershop, pool tables, clubhouses, outdoor grilling, rat stomping and lots of parties.
Other than the provided postal mail system, opportunities to converse with families and friends will be rare. No family members will be allowed to visit. All information about the atomic cleanup mission shall remain confidential until an undisclosed date.
Applicants shall be aware that this mission is the last and final stage of the Atomic Test Program which began as the Manhattan Project and is a part of the Human Radiation Experiment Program.
Job positions required include but is not limited to radiation testing personnel, construction skilled and semi-skilled laborers who will locate and hand carry radioactive debris to one of several designated areas for disposal, concrete workers, framers, plumbers, electricians, machinists, heavy equipment operators, dump truck operators, boat operators, helicopter crew members, demolition experts, explosive ordinance experts, crane operators, LARC crew members, medical staff, cafeteria staff, supply personnel, laundry staff, security personnel, operations and administrative personnel.
Applicants shall be contacted by their employers or military superiors for an opportunity to volunteer or will be voluntold to participate in this confidential mission. Upon completion of the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Mission, most participants (including state side personnel required to record radiation readings from urine samples collected from cleanup participants) shall be awarded the Humanitarian Medal from the U.S. Government as a gesture of thanks for putting yourself in harms way while preparing the islands for the return of the people who lived at Enewetak Atoll before the atomic tests began.
Please be aware that although most health complications caused by exposure to ionized radiation may not be detected for up to 30 to 50 years after exposure, no long term health care studies will be provided after your participation of the mission. Classified documents including personnel records, health records, radiation records, and other documents will be maintained by the U.S. Federal Government and will not be accessible or will have limited access in the future.

The above advertisement is a piece of pure fiction. It was never posted by anyone or any government agency prior to this publication. It was written as if the truth in advertising and full disclosure were standard operational procedures and was practiced for classified government and military operations.

The content however, is closer to the truth than what was commonly disclosed prior to most volunteering or being “voluntold” to participate in the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission.

I was one of the few from the 8,000+ participants who volunteered. In fact, I volunteered twice for a total of 14 months at Enewetak Atoll. Most of the Atomic Cleanup Veterans were voluntold to participate in the mission.

I’m one of the lucky veterans who served at the atoll with limited health complications. I’ve met many who are struggling with health challenges. Our roster survey shows about one-third state they have no health challenges. However, two-thirds believe we are experiencing health challenges due to our exposure to ionizing radiation.

The government refuses to admit our exposure to radiation during the cleanup mission was considered a “radiation-risk” activity. The government continues to state our exposure to radiation was “occupational” in nature.

Please write your federal representative and let them know you support our efforts to change the current laws by including the 1977 – 1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Veterans as Atomic Veterans (as defined in RECA) as experiencing radiation risk exposure to radiation.

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 (14 month) 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.”

Richard “Brooklyn Ball Buster” Masculine

ball buster

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 atomic cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

Remembering Lojwa Animal – Richard “Brooklyn Ball Buster” Masculine – by Gary Pulis

His handle fit him with his gift for sarcasm and his heavy Brooklyn accent. You knew someone was about to get their balls busted if he opened his mouth. Don’t get me wrong, Ball Buster wasn’t mean he did have a natural situational comedic ability that he exploited at every opportunity.

Ball Buster was one of, if not the, first “Short Timer” to take me under his wing. We worked on some of the same islands, breathed some of the same dust and drank from the same “Jungle Juice” barrel. I lost track of him when he left to go back to his regular unit. Thirty plus years later I ran into him on line. We got to chatting along with Frank Bolton, who had also served on the Atoll. With all the information Richard had to share about filing a claim with the VA. We thought it best to start a closed facebook group where we could talk about our many health issues without having to explain each post to our family and friends. Richard had been researching the effects of radiation we were exposed to and had a laundry list of illnesses that were connected to our exposure, though the VA continues to deny we were exposed to any material that would affect our health.  Shortly after starting our Enewetak group Ball Buster disclosed he had a few different types of cancer, one of which caused him to have half his tongue removed. He also told us some of the cancers had come back. Ball Buster continued to put up a brave front stating he had beaten cancer before and would again. We lost Ball Buster on November 25, 2013. The news of his loss shook all of us in the group at that time. Several of us exchanged private messages expressing our feelings of sorrow and coming to grips with our own mortality. I’m sure others were in tears, as I was. I’m not sure words can express the feelings we had having lost a brother 34 years AFTER returning to the world.
It is tough knowing we were exposed to materials that can take so many years to cause health issues and take a life in such a short period of time after the illnesses appear.

For me, the passing of Ball Buster meant I had lost my chance to exchange more memories with a brother from years gone by.

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 Gary Pulis 1979 atomic cleanup participant with B Company, 84th Engineer Battalion (Combat Heavy) (Fwd) (Fwd) Lojwa Island, Enewetak Atoll, Marshall Islands.

Photos complements of Enewetak Atoll Cleanup Veteran Richard Masculine – Gone but not Forgotten Facebook group member at Enewetak Atoll Clean-up Project Vets.

X-Ray Day – Enewetak Atoll Atomic Test #1

 

AbombOperationSandstoneApril1948

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 atomic cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

This article is written to honor and respect the soldiers who were assigned to participate and experience the Manhattan Project Tests in the Pacific Proving Grounds at Enewetak Atoll. The Veterans Administration has designated them as Atomic Veterans. They felt the heat and the shock-wave and the radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests.

National Atomic Veterans’ Day is 16 July 2014 and we aim to celebrate and understand that day by sharing government films and documents which were considered top-secret during the Cold War.

We have learned much from the challenges Atomic Veterans have encountered with health complications, dealing with the Veterans Administration and the U.S. Government.

The Atomic Veterans were forced to take legal action against the U.S. Government and the U.S. Justice Department stepped in and judged in favor of the Atomic Veterans.

There were over 40 atomic tests performed at Enewetak Atoll. Operation Sandstone’s X-Ray Day Nuclear Device was the first to be tested at Enewetak Atoll.

Our Mission was to clean the debris left behind by this nuclear test and the rest of the bombs that detonated and left radioactive fallout on the islands and in the lagoon at Enewetak Atoll.

Briefing Summary

  • Enewetak Atoll Atomic Test #1
  • Manhattan Project Test #4
  • U.S. Atomic Bomb #6
  • Date: 4/14/1948
  • Time: 18:16:59.0
  • Operation: Sandstone – DOE – Department of Energy
  • Test: X-Ray

  • Sponsor: LANL – Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Location: West Tip of Engebi aka Janet Island, Enewetak Atoll
  • Latitude: 11.66276° N
  • Longitude: 162.23785° E

  • Surface Elevation: 200’ Tower
  • Type: Tower
  • Purpose: Weapons Related
  • Device: Mk-3 Type B Levitated
  • Yield Range: 37kt
  • Venting: I-131 venting detected, 140 kCi (5200 TBq) Note: 2:1 oralloy-plutonium, levitated core. Levitation was considered a top secret technique until 1980.

Documents:

Glossary:                            

  • DOE – Department of Energy
  • DOE/NV – Department of Energy, Nevada Operations Office
  • kt – 1kt = 1,000 tons of TNT. The total effective energy released in a nuclear explosion. It is usually expressed in terms of equivalent tonnage of TNT required to produce the same energy release in an explosion.
  • LANL – Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • Tower – A nuclear device mounted at the top of a steel or wooden tower and exploded in the atmosphere.

National Association of Atomic Veterans, Inc. ( A Non-profit Veteran’s Assistance Organization ) is a group dedicated to help the 1944-1977 Atomic Veterans and, more recently, to help the 1977-1980 Atomic Cleanup Veterans. The NAAV’s website can be found at http://naav.com/

Their mission statement says: “NAAV  was founded in August, 1979 by the late Orville E. Kelly ( of Burlington, Iowa ) for the purposes of allowing the U. S. Atomic Veteran Community to speak, with a single voice, to their inability to get a fair hearing related to their developing ( radiogenic )  health issues  that may have been precipitated by their exposure to “ionizing” radiation while participating in a nuclear weapon test detonation, or a “post-test” event.   From the beginning, and to date, we continue to pursue our purpose to this dedicated cause.”

The NAAV also has an open access Facebook group page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/NationalAssociationofAtomicVeterans/

I’ve been a member of the NAAV’s Yahoo Group since 2009 and have learned much from their discussions at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/naav/info

Enewetak Atoll Atomic Debris Cleanup Veterans Facebook Fan Page was created to publicly share historical information about the 1977-1980 Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission which is published here at AtomicCleanupVets.com. Our Facebook Fan Page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/AtomicCleanupVeterans

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.

Atomic Cleanup Veteran – Pete Moreno

 

Moreno-fish-

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 atomic cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

Shortly after Pete Moreno reconnected with our group of Enewetak Cleanup Vets, he started posting photos and sharing stories about The Rock with the rest of us.

Pete is a great story teller from the Navy. Some of our memories aren’t as vivid as his memories. Just listening to his stories bring back the “feel” of the place almost to the point of smelling the salt air in those breaking waves he talks about.

Once he started talking about Enewetak, the more he remembered and shared. I had a difficult time deciding which of his recollections to share with you today. I finally decided to save some of his stories for other articles. In the meantime, here are a few of his tales about his experiences at Enewetak Atoll.

Pete Moreno – February 5 2014

I don’t think most folks could understand the hardship and deprivation of working on Eniwetok. I worked with the Clear Water Beach Clean-up Team. We often worked on the other Islands away from Lojwa and Eniwetok. We were a small group about 10 to 12 and as junior rate we got all the dirty work on the islands which meant dragging metal debris off the reef onto the beach in the blazing sun day in and day out. We often ran outta water and would go without till we got back to one of the base camps. Since there were no cooking or mess kitchen we either ate Nam era rations out of a can or whatever we brought with us. Often we didn’t get a chance to shower for a week or more the combination of sand and seawater would give me rashes and irritations in places I don’t want to mention. Our corpsman would give us basically nothing for these we just usually used grease that came off the top of the food cans. It had a plug of grease or wax and when you melted in the sun and applied It like a salve. I learned to buy hemorrhoid suppositories and melt them in there capsules and apply that to really rashed up areas. It helped. Then the grossest duty we had was burning shit in the halve drums with diesel. Yeah that really happened. We had other more mundane stuff to do also and usually it required heavy lifting and long hours in the baking sun.

I recall often of spending all day in the sweltering sun being baked and sunburned my skin turned into basic shoe leather consistency and I turned dark very dark. We usually worked shirtless and a heavy wet dungaree shirt was just too much work as the seawater and sand turned them into a painful sandpaper like thing that would just irritate the hell out of your armpits and neck. So we often just worked in our dive shorts a boonie hat, gloves and our jungle boots with the drain holes. I remember long rides back to Eniwetok on the Boston whaler and believe it or not it got chilly as on the boat we all crammed into it or get left behind. We would be wet. irritated from the seawater and shivering and hanging on as times we would hit a squall and the pelting rain combined with the seawater spray made the damn ride a very eye burning stinging bitch. Wet hungry tired and cold by the time we got back to the rock all I wanted to do was hose off and hit my rack and do it all over the next day. I don’t know how many crossed the lagoon in the deep water entrance where the concrete ship was beached on the reef but you could get some pretty good size rollers there. It made for a rough ride and would slam that Boston whaler pretty hard on the downward side. Our chief was a crazy son of bitch and had wrecked the steering the Whaler when he hit a reef head and jammed the twin outboards up. So we rigged up tiller and once of us usually me would steer the twins and someone would operate the throttles. Crossing the channel over those rollers made for some scary ass times.

I recall one time it was getting dark and we were crossing the inlet and the rollers where coming fast and high. They were at least twenty foot swells and there were coming in fast and tight. When we hit the first one the whaler shot up and when we crested the next roller was right in front of us and we started down the first and slammed in the next one so hard I thought we were going to swamp. All the scuba tanks and dive bags went sliding forward and knocked the guy on throttles off his feet and couldn’t get throttles backed off in time and we hit the next swell, goddam like scared the hell out of me and the damn boat about half filled with water. Full of gear and mad assholes yelling and fighting to get the boat straightened out. Shit I was never so happy as to when we got to calm after passing the swells. That was a scary ass crossing and we usually after that approached from the other side. We had some very interesting crossing squalls, rain storms same thing and high wind bursts. We had no compass or maps just dead reckoning which in the lagoon wasn’t a big deal but a couple of time at night you couldn’t see shit. No moon meant dark ass nights some of the darkest nights I have ever experienced when it was cloudy and no moon. Sometime the ol couldn’t see your hand in front of your face thing came into play. All in all I am glad I finished my duty there and chalked it up to experience.

I was on the rock from Oct. 77 and left march 78. six months of that stuff.

Compared to some of the places on those little islands the Lojwa base camp was civilization. I ate once there at the chow hall. Once.

Pete-Moreno-enewetak-pier-engibie-beach-enewetak-beach-

Let me tell you the one about the time we set the Fueling pier on Medren on fire.

Well, it went like this. We were assigned to demolish the old fueling pier on Medren. The EOD divers and our divers were to blow the steel pilings under the pier and save as much of the wood on the pier as possible. The wood was to be given to the native Marshallese for their use. The pier if any you remember was considered deep water. The pilings went down about 90 feet and where thick steel girders. The divers would go down and place explosives and cut the girders. They would then collapse or were supposed to anyway. Being attached to the wooden pier structure they did not break away like it was thought they would. So plan B they came up with. Use explosives to cut all the metal connections from the wooden structures. The old pier was built to last and it didn’t want to come apart easily. Myself and another guy by the name of John Jewett had to get this part, take the wire from a crane and coil it up in the middle of little wooden boat and ferry it out to where the divers where working cut the rope and the wire would play out uncoiling itself and slide off the boat. Then the divers would attach it to piling and they would drag the thing up. It went ok for awhile. Anyway as you construction guys know all cranes have a headache ball.

So backing up a bit the EOD guys brought out a bunch of C-4 and started setting up shape charges all along the pier where the steel was connected to pier. Usually underneath and away from the wooden parts. There were also about three different size pipes running along the length of the pier and we were told to cut these pipes using C-4, we set the charges and about three hour later we where ready to set off the shot. So the EOD guys gave everything the once over checking the connections and they set off the shot. The damn pier didn’t even budge. Now we had a very unstable structure that we had to finish dismantling. So this was toward the end of the third day of working on this old pier and it was getting dark so we all piled into Maggie 8 and headed back to Eniwetok. Being Saturday night we didn’t have to work the next day as we got every other Sunday off to relax. Nothing like 12 to 14 hour days and a day off every other week. Anyway we had a cookout for that night sliders and frozen steaks defrosted on the grill. It was later that night while drinking unlimited amounts of beer and consuming as much meat and food as we could an Air Force guy pulled up in his truck and got out and asked us if we knew about the fire over on Medren. So we all walked over to the shoreline and sure enough there was big ol red glow over on Medren. It was the pier! That didn’t really bother me too much as we had been busting our asses tearing down that ol bitch and it burning itself up. I realized that Medren was basically a powder keg surrounded by a lot of dried up material just waiting to go up in smoke.

The pier burned itself up in about two or three days and nearly all the wood was consumed. What was left were jagged chunks of steel, chunks of wood hanging on by steel wire and junk. This we had to cut with even more C-4 and eventually we were told to leave it alone as we had gotten behind schedule. The Army Colonel was not too happy about all this as the Marshallese Chief had been promised all that wood and he would have to be compensated some other way. We did however have to finish pulling up the steel pilings we had cut. Thats a different story. I bored you long enough.

Oh I didn’t mention that there was a big ol blue fin tuna hanging out under the pier all by itself. This was actually on the first day of blasting. This fish was killed and chopped up for sushi. I ate a bunch of it myself. Anyway just for shits and giggles I had John take a picture of me and that big ol fish with me holding a little of freshwater tackle fishing pole. A zebco no less. I didn’t really think anybody would have really thought I actually caught that tuna on it, that fish weighed close to two hundred pounds! It was a big fish certainly the biggest I had ever seen. Also a turtle was killed in the same blast and I still have that shell. It is drying out and cracking but its still a beautiful shell. But I got ragged on for that picture. Seems some people just don’t have a sense of humor. We all sweated that one out a bit as that pier wasn’t supposed to burn. There was no way to tell which charge set that fire off and I did feel bad that we had deprived the Island Chief firewood or building material. I don’t know if he or his people were ever compensated and sometimes I think how those people are faring in that tiny far away place. To me it would seem such a lonely existence but thats just me, I like to think they are prospering and healthy. Though I think circumstances and time tell me different.

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.

Testimony of Pete Moreno’s personal experiences and opinions provided by Pete Moreno an Enewetak Atomic Cleanup Veteran and Facebook Group Member.

Atomic Cleanup Veteran – Johnny Deardorff

 

Runit

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 atomic cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

Do you know a Veteran who suffers emotional challenges that were acquired while serving in the U.S. Military?

In a recent semi-private Enewetak Cleanup Vets group conversation one of our members shared his experiences in dealing with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). But first, let me give you some insight regarding Johnny Deardorff’s back story. Even though he says he is currently retired and enjoys life, there’s more to why he can say that.

 Johnny Ray Dearorff and a LARC

 From April – September of 1978, while serving in the U.S. Army’s 84th Engineer Battalion, Johnny Deardorff worked on the hottest island at Enewetak Atoll filling a 35’ deep 375 foot diameter crater in the coral reef of Runit Island with radioactive atomic debris and concrete until it became a concrete capped dome 55 feet higher than the surrounding ocean. It is the only island the U.S. Government will not return to the Enewetak People.

Deardorff’s duties involved quarry and asphalt paving, drill and blasting. He was the specialist responsible for operation of all crushers, generators and batch plant operations and all related equipment on Runit Island. He supervised debris separation from all foreign materials, bombs, shells, mortars, mines, bullets, wood, metal, all radioactive debris, machine guns, occasional grenades. All left over from WWII. He carried what was HOT to the crater to throw it in. At the end of the day, when not in operation at the plant, he detonated all the old ordinance. He policed the area of HOT junk and made 270 loads of hot concrete a day at peak production times.

Instead of treating him for radiation poisoning, he says the military claimed he had the flu in the 130 degree weather. After he left Enewetak Atoll, he joined the NBC Corps in 1984 and learned a lot about radiation poisoning and symptoms, doses, dose calculating. In his words- “We were screwed big time there and they knew it.”

Here are his comments and the advice he offers to Veterans suffering with emotional health issues:

I have a Counselor/Doctor out of West Linn, Oregon and she is the Best!!! Each VA Clinic and facility can set you up with a tele-conference person. I went to Klamath Falls CBOC and now I go to North Bend Outpatient Clinic.

Demand to talk to a person for mental health. They have to by law set you up for one. They’re all across the country. Once they schedule you an appointment at their facility, this is for their safety and yours, in case the stress gets to be too much, they can call help for you.

REMEMBER THIS IF NOTHING ELSE: He or She (the counselor), is required by law to report anything you say in which you make a statement. Even jokingly. Such as:

  • I was / am going to hurt myself or others.
  • I am thinking about suicide.
  • I am going to go shoot somebody.
  • I feel like going to shoot ANYONE.

Tip: Go to https://www.myhealth.va.gov/index.html and set up your accounts at eBenefits and myHealtheVet – these are ways to keep in contact thru private messaging and secure messaging to your counselor or doctor, order meds, get records, forms data, 201 files on digital discs.

It all started from me going and asking to see a counselor, because for years, all I was offered was drug after drug. Now I can manage. I’m NOT cured my nightmares. But it has helped me greatly. I can actually sleep three to four hours a night now, it has been a break-thru for me.

I highly recommend it to any veteran struggling to cope with problems. It is free and if after a few sessions, when they feel it necessary, you can be given the link and set up appointments to see your counselor at your home privately, but the same rules apply, if they think you’re a threat to yourself or others they will report it.

MyHealtheVet is where I would start, and if you do not yet have Ebenefits.va.gov next. Make sure when you sign up to make a separate file on your desktop to keep all your security questions handy. Because every 120 days you will be asked to change your password and you must remember all the answers to change anything. I have it a safe location, but this is the best thing I can tell you for now.

I have my counselor personal number in case I need to talk to her about anything, I am not sure all counselors will do that but mine does.

I have an appointment soon and I can/will find out from her where there are clinics in your areas if you e mail me your location. I’m here to help in any way – a brother vet.

Also if you tell them how many guns and that you have them in your home your name also goes on federal agency lists. As well I say I love hunting I love shooting sports and that’s the extent of my information to any government agencies that will do a check.

I have a tele-conference therapist in Oregon who is and has greatly helped me with the same thing because of that hell hole. You can be set up at most clinics or home depending on your internet capabilities.

Trust me. It destroyed two marriages. I am better. Just learned to deal with it with different methods. Not cured. But have better mental tools now.

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.

Testimony of Johnny Deardorff’s personal experiences and opinions provided by Johnny Deardorff an Enewetak Atomic Cleanup Veteran and Facebook Group Member.

Atomic Cleanup Veteran – David Roach

Runit

 

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 atomic cleanup mission as “veterans who participated in radiation-risk activities during active service.”

Enewetak Atoll Atomic Cleanup Mission Veterans were composed of a joint task force of Army, Navy, and Air Force personnel.

In one of our earlier articles, David Roach commented on our struggles with dealing with the VA and his experiences at Enewetak Atoll.

His comments need to be repeated here in an article of its own. Here are his comments from February 8, 2014.

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!

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.

Testimony of David Roach’s personal experiences and opinions provided by David Roach an Enewetak Atomic Cleanup Veteran and Facebook Group Member.