The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

November/December 2005

Our Right To Know


As I begin my term as chair of VVA’s SHAD/Project 112 Task Force, I want to express my appreciation for the honor given me of being asked to take this important post. I will work diligently to fill the position vacated by our Vice President, Jack Devine, and to keep us moving forward.

I was a member of the Project SHAD Technical Staff (PSTS) from September 1964 to July 1967. My position was Officer in Charge of the five U.S. Army light tugs. The Deseret Test Center fleet consisted of the tugs and two Liberty ships, the USS Granville S. Hall (YAG 40) and the USS George Eastman (YAG 39). While I was there the tugs took part in at least four tests, innumerable drills, and two bird cruises, designed to make sure birds of the central Pacific were not carriers of a test product. One of the tests, “Shady Grove,” lasted from January to April 1965. It included many disseminations of bioweapons and simulants. Each tug had a naval officer as Officer in Charge and a crew of 11, mostly highly qualified senior U.S. Navy Petty Officers.

Many people seem to have heard of “Project SHAD,” but few can recall “112.” In fact, I was not familiar with 112 until I began working with VVA. Security around the tests was compartmentalized. “SHAD” is the acronym for Shipboard Hazards and Defense, although the “D” at times also stood for “Decontamination” and “Detection.” The purpose of the 112/SHAD test operations was to evaluate chem/bio weapons, their simulants, decontamination procedures, and certain trace elements.

All SHAD tests were part of 112; however, not all 112 tests were part of SHAD. Therein lies a problem. I am not convinced that DoD has released all of the information, mainly in identifying the tests, where and when they occurred, military units involved (including the names of military personnel), strength of weapons, inoculations given participants, decontamination chemicals, protocols, and safety plans.

The names of some of the units are in the Fact Sheets on the DoD’s Deployment Health Support Directorate website. We know there were land-based tests that were conducted as part of 112. In fact, some of the PSTS crew participated in a few. DoD has not identified the military units involved—at least they haven’t named them publicly. If an Army veteran from a land-based test were to inquire if he was in this test called Project SHAD, DoD could truthfully say no.

Information is still woefully inadequate. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) has written legislation called the Veterans Right to Know Act. It’s about getting at the truth about 112/SHAD and some tests that were done before 112/SHAD got its name. This bill, which has as an original co-sponsor, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), will have been introduced by the time you read this. If passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, this legislation will empower a commission to look into all facets of Project 112/SHAD, with a goal of bringing to light information that might help veterans whose health may have been compromised during these tests.

I urge you to contact your elected officials to support the Veterans Right to Know Act. When it is introduced and given a number, that number will appear in this column and on the VVA website. The legislation will need plenty of vocal support if it is to be enacted into law.


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