To the Editor:
Re “Veterans Feel Cost of U.S. Nuclear Tests” (front page, Jan. 29):
We were told that everyone would receive radiation goggles to protect our eyes (or we’d go blind). One of my jobs was to requisition items needed for the tests, which included goggles. I was instructed to cancel the order for enlisted men (though not officers) to make room on the planes for new furniture for the colonel’s house.
We were told to face away from the mushroom cloud to protect our eyes before Test 1 (Codename: Lacrosse) of Operation Redwing in May 1956. The pilot hit the wrong target, and the bomb exploded in front of us (sans goggles).
We were informed that there would never be fallout on Enewetak. There were many such instances. Each time, we were instructed over loudspeakers to go inside immediately and close all windows tightly. But the aluminum windows were defective and wouldn’t close.
We were told before the tests began that the island would be evacuated if radiation levels were higher than 3.9 roentgens. When that happened, the allowable dose was increased to 7 roentgens.
I saw Navy men arrive at the island hospital after cleaning up contaminated islands. I saw them leave in body bags.
To the Editor:
In the late 1970s, a young soldier in my Army unit shared his experiences cleaning up radiated islands in the South Pacific.
His most chilling account, and one that has stayed with me for 37 years, concerns a visit to the island by a United States congressman. Though the G.I.s were in their duty uniforms, the congressman, who was there for only a few hours, was outfitted in the anti-radiation “spacesuit” denied to the troops.
This same soldier got testicular cancer a year after telling us this story. Coincidence? I think not. He was 22 years old.
Read more at Help Veterans Who Were Exposed to Radiation