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November/December Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / Letters / President's Message / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Veterans Benefits Update / PTSD Substance Abuse Committee Report / AVVA Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / Constitution Committee Report / Convention Resolution Report / Healthcare Budget Reform / NamJam / South Korean Veterans / Arts of War / Book Review / Books / Membership Notes / Locator / Reunions / 4 Chaplains /

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Project 112/SHAD Task Force REPORT

BY JACK ALDERSON, CHAIR

At the 112/SHAD Task Force meeting in October, one item on the agenda was the identification of Army and Marine units involved in the testing. The list of Navy units involved in the tests seems complete. Marine units are listed on the “fact sheets” compiled by the Deployment Health Support Directorate. They consist of aircraft and crews on temporary assignment as disseminators, as well as the Air Force units that replaced the Marines during the Eniwetok tests.

The land-based tests involving Army personnel are a different matter. From interviews with SHAD test planners and participants, we have pieced together what we believe happened: Security was a key factor during tests. One element of security was to have the fewest number of personnel informed about the project.
Hence, for tests in Alaska, a highly trained nucleus crew from Dugway Proving Ground and Deseret Test Center, in addition to SHAD technical staff, would be assigned. This nucleus crew consisted of the test director and his staff, including operations, safety, munitions, and laboratory personnel. Augmentation of this nucleus crew was by TDY orders with one or two medics and laboratory technicians from various Army bases.

The augmentation crew was at the test site for the least amount of time and knew very little about what was going on. They were housed in separate quarters. They were carried on the daily reports of their home command. Some of the orders showed ten or more names from five or more commands. According to the few veterans we have talked to, they were not there long enough to develop a sense of loyalty to a command. When ordnance was used, the crew serving that piece brought it to the test area. The 112/SHAD personnel handled the munitions. After the test, the piece and crew returned to their home bases, with no lasting memories or friendships.

LAWSUIT, RIP

VVA was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit that cited individuals in the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs for violating the constitutional rights of 112/SHAD veterans by not sharing with them information that might support a claim for benefits to the VA. Doug Rosinski and David Cynamon served as VVA’s attorneys on a pro bono basis. Last December, Cynamon argued our case adroitly and elegantly before a three-judge appeals panel in Federal District Court in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, the ruling went against VVA. To obtain the information we need, they said, we should send Freedom of Information requests to DoD—despite the fact that we had already done this to no avail.

AND CIVILIANS, TOO

We are hopeful that the work of the Task Force will benefit veterans of the 112/SHAD tests and related experiments and also the civilians who were involved, many unknowingly, in the tests. We know that simulants were released in several cities, including New York and San Francisco. In San Francisco, serratia marcescens was released. Eleven citizens were hospitalized with symptoms consistent with exposure to SM. The islands of Oahu and Hawaii were involved in multiple tests in which civilian populations were exposed without their knowledge.

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