Cleaning up Johnston Atoll

Recommended Citation

"Cleaning up Johnston Atoll", APSNet Special Reports, November 25, 2005,

From the beginning of the nuclear age, the peoples of the Pacific islands have borne the brunt of nuclear weapons testing by France, Britain and the United States. Seeking “empty” spaces, the Western powers chose to conduct Cold War programs of nuclear testing in the Pacific. Between 1946-1996, over 315 atmospheric and underground nuclear tests were conducted at ten different sites in the desert of Australia and the islands of the central and south Pacific. The nuclear powers showed little concern for the health and well-being of nearby island communities, and those civilian and military personnel who staffed the test sites.

Between 1946 and 1958, the US military conducted 67 nuclear tests at Bikini and Enewetak Atolls in the Marshall Islands. Less well known are the US nuclear tests on Johnston Atoll in 1962.

Johnston Atoll is located between the Marshall Islands and Hawai’i, and is known to the Kanaka Maoli people as Kalama Island. The island was claimed for the Kingdom of Hawai’i in July 1858, with the support of King Kamehameha. With the US take-over in Hawai’i in 1898, Johnston effectively became a US possession, even though the Territory of Hawai’i continued to claim jurisdiction over Kalama Island and Sand Island (which made up the atoll) into the twentieth century.

Johnston was used by the US military from 1934 until 2000, and the island was expanded many times in size through dredging and reconstruction. Beyond the 1962 nuclear tests, Johnston Atoll was used to store chemical weapons from Okinawa after 1970 and drums of Agent Orange defoliant from the Vietnam War in 1972. Throughout the 1990s, the island was also the site for the Johnston Atoll Chemical Agents Disposal System (JACADS), an incineration plant for chemical weapons removed from Okinawa and Germany following the end of the Cold War.1

The US military has now closed down JACADS so the island can be handed over the US Fish and Wildlife Service as a nature reserve. A deeper problem remains – how to clean up plutonium contamination from failed nuclear tests in 1962.

During the Operation Hardtack series in 1958, most US nuclear tests were conducted at Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the Marshall Islands, but the US military used Johnston atoll for two nuclear tests during the series. From 22 April to 19 August 1958, administration of Johnston Atoll was assigned to the Commander of Joint Task Force Seven for the duration of the test series. The 1 August test codenamed Teak and the test codenamed Orange of 12 August 1958 both involved 3.8-megaton explosions from rockets launched from Johnston Atoll. After the tests were completed, the island reverted back to the command of the US Air Force.

In 1962, the US military conducted a nuclear test series of 36 detonations at Christmas Island and Johnston Atoll, codenamed Operation Dominic. The tests were conducted in a rush, in an effort to beat the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty. The first phase (codenamed Dominic I) was held from 25 April to 11 July 1962, and the second phase (Dominic II) from 2 October to 3 November 1962.

During the first phase, 24 nuclear weapons were dropped from aircraft for airbursts in the vicinity of Christmas Island. One warhead was sent aloft by Thor rocket from Johnston Atoll for high altitude detonation. Three other attempted launches of nuclear tipped rockets from Johnston were failures.

During the second phase, four nuclear warheads were fired on rockets from Johnston Island for high altitude detonation – one rocket launch was a failure. Five weapons were also dropped from aircraft for airbursts in the vicinity of Johnston Island. The high altitude tests were designed to discover the effect on communications or stopping incoming ballistic missiles. The effect of these high level explosions lit the sky from Australia to Hawai’i, causing an enormous electromagnetic pulse that put out streetlights in Honolulu, 1300 kilometres away.

There were three successful launches of missiles armed with nuclear warheads at Johnston Atoll during the Dominic series: Starfish Prime, Bluegill Triple Prime and Kingfish. But four other nuclear missile launches from Johnston were aborted. Plutonium contamination was caused by three of these failed tests, causing radioactive pollution on the island that still lingers today.

The high altitude test codenamed Bluegill on 3 June 1962 started normally, but as the missile neared the point of detonation high in the sky after 13 minutes of flight, the tracking ships lost contact with it. The safety team decided to detonate the warhead by remote control, and the missile was destroyed at high altitude about 36 kilometres south of the atoll. No contamination was recorded at the atoll.

The first of the contaminating accidents came on 20 June 1962 from the Starfish test. The launch of a Thor missile carrying a nuclear warhead was aborted a minute into its flight, and a self-destruct order blew the missile apart at a point estimated at 30,000 feet. Large pieces of radioactive debris (including pieces of the booster rocket, engine, re-entry vehicle and missile parts) fell back to the island. In 2000, the US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DRTA) conducted the Johnston Atoll Radiological Survey (JARS), which noted:

“More debris landed in the surrounding waters and on adjacent Sand Island, where residual plutonium from the test device was found. A large collection of alpha contaminated scrap was isolated during the initial cleanup…It is likely that some portion of the plutonium was pulverised and consequently dispersed in the winds occurring between the destruct altitude and the ground and thus did not contribute to contamination at JA. It is however also likely that residual plutonium, in addition to that recovered from Sand Island, fell into the waters of JA.”2


The test codenamed Bluegill Prime on 25 July 1962 caused the most serious contamination. After a malfunction on the launch pad, officials destroyed the rocket by remote control after ignition but before the rocket had lifted off. The explosion of the Thor missile scattered debris in all directions. The US DRTA radiological study describes the Bluegill Prime disaster:

“Plutonium material mixed with the flaming fuel drained into trench cables and was carried away in the smoke from several fires. This resulted in a deposition of alpha contamination on the launch pad complex that represented a major contamination problem. Contaminated debris was scattered throughout the wire-enclosed pad area and neighbouring areas. Metal revetment buildings were highly contaminated with alpha activity. Burning fuel flowing through cable trenches caused contamination on the interior of the revetments and all equipment contained therein. Fuel, which spilled and flowed over the compacted coral surrounding the launch mount and revetments resulted in highly contaminated areas. Prevailing winds at the time of the destruction caused general contamination of all areas downwind of the launch mount.” 3

In an effort to continue with the testing program, US troops were sent in to do a rapid clean up. The troops scrubbed down the revetments and launch pad, carted away debris and removed the top layer of coral around the contaminated launch pad. The plutonium-contaminated rubbish was dumped in the lagoon, polluting the surrounding marine environment. The JARS study politely notes:

“Sea-disposal of radioactive waste for control of the radiological hazard was then considered expedient and proper…there was no effort made to analyze the magnitude and extent of the radiological hazard resulting from the destruction of a nuclear device on a launch complex.”4

At the time of the Bluegill Prime disaster, the top fill around the launch pad was scraped by a bulldozer and grader. It was then dumped into the lagoon to make a ramp, so the rest of the debris could be loaded onto landing craft to be dumped out into the ocean. An estimated 10 per cent of the plutonium from the test device was in the fill used to make the ramp. Then the ramp was covered during later dredging to extend the island (The lagoon was dredged in 1963-4 and used to expand Johnston Island from 220 acres to 625 acres). The JARS study notes that:

“much of these [contaminated] sediments may have been incorporated back into the islands in the 1964 dredging and filling work, and thus much of the plutonium contamination from Bluegill Prime may have been redeposited on the island. Any contamination not redeposited on the island through dredge and fill still contaminates the lagoon”5.

The Bluegill Prime disaster seriously affected the health of US Naval Air Force, Navy Patrol Squadron Six, Flight Crew One, who were present at Johnston Island during Starfish, Starfish Prime, and Bluegill Prime. One crewmember Michael Thomas notes that the flight crew and ground support staff were trapped on the Island following the destruction of the 1.4-megaton warhead of Bluegill Prime. The Squadron members of ‘VP-6’ present during that episode suffered an 85% casualty rate of illness and cancers in subsequent years: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma was the biggest killer plus thyroid cancer, throat cancer, oesophageal cancer, kidney cancer, multiple myaloma, and various skin cancers. 30% of the crew experienced reproductive inefficiency up to and including stillbirth and deformities.6

On 15 October the same year, another test misfired. In the Bluegill Double Prime test, the rocket was destroyed at a height of 109,000 feet after it malfunctioned 90 seconds into the flight. US Defence Department officials confirm that when the rocket was destroyed, it contributed to the radioactive pollution on the island.

From 1963 to 1970, Johnston was maintained as a testing site in a state of “readiness to test”, in case the US President decided to breach the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963. More than 550 drums of contaminated material were dumped in the ocean off Johnston in 1964-5. Since then, US defence authorities have surveyed the island in a series of studies, and collected 45,000 tonnes of soil contaminated with radioactive isotopes. Plutonium pollution was heaviest near the old rocket launching site, in the lagoon offshore the launch pad and near Sand Island. The contaminated soil was dug up and collected on the north of the island, in a fenced area covering 24 acres.

As with all Pacific nuclear test sites, the end of nuclear testing has not ended the nuclear hazard for the peoples of the Pacific. The US government must take responsibility for the full clean up of Johnston Atoll.

About the author

Nic Maclellan has worked as a journalist, researcher and community development worker in the Pacific islands, and worked with the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) in Fiji between 1997-2000. He has written widely on disarmament, human rights and environment in the Pacific islands, and is co-author of three books on Pacific issues including: La France dans le Pacifique – de Bougainville à Moruroa(Editions La Découverte, Paris, 1992); After Moruroa – France in the South Pacific (Ocean Press, Melbourne, 1998); and Kirisimasi – Na Sotia kei na Lewe ni Mataivalu e Wai ni Viti e na vakatovotovo iyaragi nei Peritania mai Kirisimasi (PCRC, Suva, 1999).


1 Nic Maclellan: “Radiation on Johnston Atoll – cleaning up the Cold War”, Pacific News Bulletin, August 2000.

2 US Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DRTA): Johnston Atoll Radiological Survey (JARS), 6 January 2000, page 1-18. For testimony of US service personnel who served on Johnston Atoll at the time of the tests, visit the Atomic Veterans History Project on the Internet:

3 US DRTA: JARS, page 1-119-121

4 US DRTA: JARS, page 1-121

5 US DTRA: JARS, pages 1-22-23

6 Letter to the author from Michael Thomas, 28 November 2000. Thomas served at Johnston Atoll in 1962 as a member of US Naval Air Force, Navy Patrol Squadron Six, Flight Crew One.

71 thoughts on “Cleaning up Johnston Atoll

  1. If you were ever stationed there and exposed not only to the radiological contamination of these failed tests but also to the extensive amounts of chemical munitions and herbicides maintained there, years later, and are currently suffering from diseases that may have been manifested from there and while trying to prove to the VA that your physical ailments are a direct result of your governments actions; then hell yes it matters; especially now with so many dying and the government not wanting to live up to the responsibility of taking care of their own because it might cost them a lot of money – guess it is just easier to hide it till all have passed away. Returning the island to be a part of wildlife preserve is just a cover for keeping people from knowing the full truth!

    • Aloha Herb,
      I was there in 1962/63 and yep I got cancer and yes the government
      did deny/exclude me as I worked for the Navy, PMRF. Today 50
      years later I am still waiting and yes I am to expensive. I was
      denied under EEOICPA, VA, AND RECA.

      • Terry sorry for your health problems. I was stationed there in 1965 and worked in the radiation contamination for a year. I havent contracted cancer but my have problems with degenative bone disease. I am very healthy except for the bone deteriation. I wonder if this could be caused by my daily exposure to the radio active particles which I worked in every day? Got any ideas/ Thank you. SGT Patrick Mulcahy 1965. Best regards.

    • Hi. Jim powers. I cleaned/closed the nuke area. 75/76. My va case is being worked by a law firm. CCK. Us launch crew have a vidio conference once a month. We don’t read about it. We can talk about it. Do you know Dr. Rademacher?

      Email if u wantvg

  2. Dear Stan, it matters to victims that our nation continues to deny.
    I was a victim that lost my bladder and prostrate to exposure. My
    country admits the were the cause but hid behind secrecy. Today
    I am still fighting under the DBA and still they deny. I will die
    waiting but not without a fight.

    • Sorry to hear of everyone’s problems, anxiety, muscle spams, skin cancer, memory loss. Yes, I as well was on the stationary aircraft carrier. Of course, I had pre employment physical, prior to my leaving Military City USA… Air Monitoring Technician was my job. Encountered severe anxiety, insomnia, my face and neck would become irritated, severe fatigue, lost weight… Exit Physical time folks!!! The medical Doctor asked me if I had any concerns or comments and I explained my symptoms , like above mentioned… The Doctor actually noted them and said I had difficulty with management, but you are going to be just fine.. The Doctor even wrote, this individual believes he may have come in contact with plutonium or possibly asbestos.. Yes, he thought he ran into the typical I believe a Doctor Bull shit… So what does a over the top Card Player do?? Though his ass a curve ball!! I asked Sir, what parameters are test you plan on running!!! He showed me the Paperwork.. I said, not bad for a average job, but this is not average. Therefore, I requested about five more parameters to run. Doctor said, that’s not necessary??? I said Sir, run them and I will pay out of my pocket!!! Reluctantly, he did.. Now, get this, they eventually sent the results sometime later to my father, with an apology letter. I was about 23 years of age then, but not long ago, I started looking through all my employment records and physicals… Yep, the parameters, I requested back then came up hot and out of range!!! Still have the results, letter to my father, but they never contacted me!! I’m a civilian, love my country and have an eight year old son!! Skin Cancer on the back of my neck, tired all the time, muscle spams from he’ll, short term memory loss, anxiety, confusion and seeking an attorney to put a boot in someone ass!! Please Help. I am an American and served our country in a different way!!! The guy, water boy, SGT York aka, the one the soldiers didn’t know but protected our soldiers and would have taken a bullet for you!! To all American Soldiers, men and women that doned the American Uniform.. I want to say Thank You, God Bless You and I love you!!!! Please look into your heart and SAY UNITED WE STAND OR DIVIDED WE FALL

  3. I served on Johnston Atoll between 1990-92. I have bladder problems and currently been told I might have a form of neuropathy . I have a lot of nerve problems. I know its years after the fact, however, I did spend quite of bit of time in the lagoon and near that fenced in area they say was contaminated with “agent orange”. I read someones report that was also on the island between 87-94 and has experience a lot of the same medical problems I am facing including an ‘infart’ to the kidney. I am not sure if I can prove any of my illness is due from exposure from Johnston Atoll. I applied for disability but they denied me saying they tested me before I left the island.

  4. Everyone is right, the U.S. Government sucks. I worked on J.I. back in 1987 and 88 as an electrician for contractors building the disposal unit. No one ever informed us that the Island was so contaminated. I worked below the ground level in the old launch area installing the security and lighting systems. Ten years later I started having severe skin problems and spent thousands of dollars seeking help. Four years later the VA said it was cancer and the VA doctors said it was caused by agent orange. The VA in Las Vegas told my wife that I was terminal and prepare for my funeral. $ years later I am still alive but must take chemo for the rest of my life. There is no cure for the kind of cancer that I have. It is called C-T cell Lymphoma. All of your skin rots and falls off of your body leaving raw nerve endings and every lymph node infected with staff and mercer. I lost my teeth, hair, nails, strength, energy, and ability to walk or even function as a human being. And the VA refused to give me a disability but they do treat me. Best of luck to those that are still living. GOD bless

    • My late husband was there during the same time as an MP. Sadly I lost him to a massive heart attack December 30,2019. He was 52 years old. I dint know if this issue was something to do with his stay on JI but he always told me if he died young, I should look into it. So sorry for all your pain and suffering.

    • Sorry to hear that Donald, do you remember a contractor named O-gee? I was there when you were there, we were 7th Engineers, “C” Charlie Co. USMC. We were tearing down those old buildings while y’all were working on that incinerator.

  5. In 1963 I was an enlisted Air Force telephone cable splicer sent to Johnston
    Island for 90 days to install telephone cables all over the island. I was never told about the radiological contamination I was exposed to at that time. I did
    not learn of it until I happened upon this article. To date, I haven,t had any
    medical issues resulting from my exposure but I wounder if it is just a ticking
    time bomb.

    • I was there in 1975 – 76 10ADS Det 1 from VAndenberg. you must have been with the Comm Sq. but did you work on the Pluto Yard or the with our cables under ground. I along with just a couple of others pulled all the cables used for the launches and to the large antenna on the hill. If your cables were in the ditches they might have been in the ditches that were effected. I’m under review now and besides the 1.5 million gal of AO I sat next to and talked with the guy burning it. I was in the Pluto Yard (launch area) our warehouse had and underground tunnel that came up directly on the pad for delivery of parts during launch period last launch Nov 1975. (that was the only way you could get near the launch area during the final hours before actual launch). daily taking readings with SMSgt Hudelston with the geiger counter. I’ll keep you posted on my case.

    • A tickling time bomb! I was there for 10 plus month in 1963-64. I was in USAF Crypto Maintenance. 57 years later I have been diagnosed with non Hodgkins lymphoma and undergoing treatment. I intend to waist my time applying with the VA. Doubt anything will come of that. We were never told of the danger we were in and the only sign I saw about radiation was the signs on the fences around launch pad number one. We are the forgotten veterans!

  6. Aloha all,
    Well I was denied under EEOICPA/VA/RECA and yes even OWCP my employer
    contended I waited more than the two year cutoff therefore denied again.
    Nothing matters Stan as we are deemed to expensive and all programs
    that actually mislead are designed to deny. Even our Justice system
    is influenced. I went the whole gamock from POTUS down and there is
    not a damn politician that realy cares. Sad that loyalty deserves
    denial. All take care, ” WE WILL DIE WAITING “.


  7. I was stationed on Johnston Atoll January 1967 to January 1968. I was in the Air Force and worked in communications. In 1979 I had testicular cancer. Ifor anyone else contracted similar cancer in that time frame we need to pursue this with the VA.

  8. My father was stationed on Oahu through out 1962. We lived in Honolulu on Kapiolani Blvd., just a few blocks from Waikiki. One night, in November, we were told of an earthquake east of Japan and to head up valley to higher grounds to escape the waters of an impending tidal wave from the North West. Dad commented on the locals running down to the beach with their boards to catch the waves kicking up from the south west. Then the lights went out. When the lights came back on we were told that tidal wave never hit the Midway Islands (to the northwest). Since then I have been reading about the Electromagnetic Pulses and other testing on Johnston Atoll about 800 miles SW of Honolulu. I am still searching for evidence of the quake or the “tidal wave”. Don’t think I will ever find it.

  9. I was stationed on JI during the entire year of 1969. We where told that everything was ok and we were in no danger. I now have prostate cancer, copd, conjestive heart failure and other problems. Just starting my fight for VA benefits. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
    I was assigned to JTG8.6, worked in HQ Bldg and was all over the Island.

    • Allen, were you on Active Duty there? If so, I suggest a contact with Paul Travis

      Introduce yourself to him and your timeline on the Island. Paul is one of the first Active Duty personnel that was linked to JI Agent Orange as service connected. Your main issue is proof of AO on the Island in 1969. Paul was there in mid 70’s. I was there in 89-90 period. I have all the symptomatology of AO exposure as I fell from my Bike at the entry gate to the AO storage site. I was treated and followed up with monthly blood draws until leaving the Island. I was a Reservist and ordered to AD during my time on the island. When intending a return, I was informed that I was not medically qualified for retention in my position due to blood anomalies. I had a skin rash on m left knee and above the ankle where I was scraped up as well as my left elbow and hand (inside arm nearest to wrist). I was told it was psoriasis by the VA, and no treatment has been beneficial as of this date. I still have the rash, never ending since 1990. It will recede to the original site and expand from foot to over the knee depending on weather conditions as well as stress levels. Johnston Atoll is not considered a site that you have the presumption of exposure. You have to establish a direct connection.

      Agent Orange itself was not moved to Johnston Atoll until 1972 from Gulfport, Mississippi. It was also not [listed] on the manifest for transport from Okinawa to Johnston Atoll in 1971. Your best case would be to validate if you had any GROUNDS KEEPING DUTIES ASSIGNED YOU and you used any Chemicals as an herbicide.

      Was you Active or Reserve. Makes a big difference. If you were only Civilian status, then your likelihood is slim to none for establishing chemical exposure based on AO. However don’t fret. If you was transported on C130 that had a history of AO transport from Thailand to Vietnam, then you can make a connection. Again, they will not recognize an exposure for the time frame you presented regardless of the status (AD/RES/CIV).

      The other focal point is if there was any leaks of bio or chemical agents during your station there. If so, then focus on that especially if AD or Reserve. Another point for consideration is the Plutonium contamination site as a precursor to health anomalies. Radon was significantly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) mortality. You might have a chance with the COPD connection as Radon Gas is produced from the decay of radioactive materials.

      Take your whole military history, bases in which assigned, countries, locations, etc. If Army, note that Ft Knox was one of the first sites to test AO. So do your homework! Research every base you were assigned to and build your case for Chemical Exposure other than Agent Orange. It is easier to prove based on time and location of assignment.

      • We had a 200k spill of AO leaked into all our cable trenches we cleaned up on johnston Island, “radation” “cables all contaminated with it” we handled and loaded on the ships – physically took down almost every peice of equipment on the pad in the building at the shit shoot. that was the backup launch area if you didnd’t know that which many people did not Know. right after the last launch in 75. and with my TS ORDERS – MY ACTUAL REINLISTEMENT PAPERS – THEY CAME BACK WITH – we have no record of your Unit being on the island. So I provided tons of proof pictures – movies – showing our launch pad and launch – our bildings with our name on it. after 5-7 years I get a reply “OH – well look into it.” that was 3 years ago. guys from the ARMY who only worked in the red had area got approved. they never worked at or near the AO area. only our lox plant and the guys civilians form Holmes and Narbor. But they were military police so they got awarded it only because of there duty title “not because they worked in the area” they walked by like many people did just out of curiosity like most people stationed there. I have there case files if any one needs them – if you were MP submitt a claim “coff twice and sneeze” you’ll get approved even if you never left the JOC building. VA is great !!!

    • My husband George Soetaert was stationed at Vandenbeg AFB and went TDY there 3 months at a time 3 times in 1968/69. He was in missiles and wore a docimeter and turned it in when leaving the site. After retirement he had prostate cancer, copd and his forearms were almost black. He went to the VA and saw their specialist on radiation, agent orange. Etc. This Doctor told him he was there during the same time period and yes there was radiation as well as agent orange and he put it in his report. The government said there wasn’t and he would have to show his docimeter for proof. He was denied and now has bone cancer.

  10. I have recently come across a volunteer program by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that sends the chosen volunteers to Johnston Atoll for a period of 7-8 months to help eradicate a species of ants that are negatively effecting the wild bird population. This program has been going on since 2010 and currently, the 11th team is there on JA. Many people who have done this have blogged about their time spent there and they really seemed to enjoy their experience. After reading about all the nuclear testing that has been conducted at JA it really makes me wonder if the Fish and Wildlife Service is just taking volunteers because they don’t want to expose their own to these dangers. I also wonder if these past volunteers who feel that they had a once in a lifetime experience are now at a much higher risk of developing some sort of cancer because of this.


  12. Good to know these things. I, too, was on JI between 12/89 -1991. I worked there for a year doing numerous clerical jobs within the maintenance dept. I loved being there. “The experience of a life time” is what I always thought, until now. I went scuba diving several times in the waters there. And somewhere, I have tons of pictures that I took all over the island including warning signs of chemical munitions storage.
    I have been dealing with the onset (July 2014) of an autoimmune disease call Sarcoidosis – Lofgren Syndrome. Though it seems to be under control at this time. Choosing healthy, raw and or organic foods and herbs is the healing medicine for all of us no matter what is ailing us. Give your body what it needs to fight whatever is attacking you. Yes, even cancers! God Bless to each and every one of you!

  13. I worked on a project in Johnston Island in the late 80s related, the JACADs program. I made a number of short trips there over a couple of years. I remember jogging pst the plutonium stockpile area, as well as the agent orange stockpile and the many igloo’s full of chemical weapons. So far, I don’t think my health was affected.

    Johnston Atoll is one of the strangest and scariest places I’ve ever been. I still have a tee shirt I bought there which says

    “Johnston Island– not the end of the world, but you can see it from there…”

    • Do you know of any testing done around 1984-1985 that would have shown that agent orange or any other herbicides were still present on the island? My husband has filed for VA disability and it was denied.

  14. I served at Johnston in 1962/63 for Navy PMRF, I did get cancer of the
    bladder. I learned of DOL EEOICPA ACT that provided medical, ah but
    not for non energy workers, there in lies the sham, yes the lie.
    Bill Clinton signed into law the EEOICPA using his Executive Authority.
    Today it still exists and still denies.

    President Trump has the same authority as President to amend and
    provide equal justice. As of today he has not.

  15. Aloha,
    Still here and currently writing Trump to use his EO to correct
    EEOICPA to include all participants, presently only allows
    energy workers, a sham to deny victims. Our nation deceived,
    denied, and excludes knowing and admitting what they did.

  16. terryrs,
    Still here and I write because you need to know our nation does
    deceive, deny, and exclude those they admit they harmed. They
    used the shield of secrecy, the justice courts and even enacted
    sham programs to deny. Trust what I say. I done to much and found
    out much. There is to much info and our nation does admit. There
    are many Senators and Congress that know. We will die waiting.

    • I am part of the last group to witness the bombs power I was aMRine on the USS Princeton lph5 working the flight deck during October and November 1962. I wound up with thyroid cancer and other problems that I am still fighting the VA for benefits I did file for RECA and won that one but the VA will lie and whatever to deny us our just due SAD

  17. Stationed on JA 1972-73 in AF. Agent Orange in the lagoon intake for drinking water but we were never told. Exposed to leaking AO drums like everyone else. Radiation: No one ever told me of plutonium radiation contamination before, after, or during my tour. Only found out past 10 years. Radiation was a coverup for sure.
    I have had bilateral peripheral neuropathy for 25-30 years and spent a fortune buying Lyrica for my numb feet. My problems are not as bad as some and I have insurance. I don’t know how some can get by without help from the VA or the government while they continue to deny coverage and lie about cause.

  18. NTS, AFSWP 1956-957 I had to show the VA the way!

    8725 JOHN J. KINGMAN ROAD, STOP 6201
    FORT BELVOIR, VA 22060-6201

    Department of Veterans Affairs
    Regional Office
    ATTN: Director (21 – Radiation )
    1600 East Woodrow Wilson Avenue
    Jackson. Mississippi 39216-5102
    Dear Sir / Madam:
    MAR 0 9 2017
    This is a follow-up to our letter of January 26, 2017, concerning Mr. George R .
    Maynard. File Number: xxx xx xxxx. a confirmed participant of Operation PLUMBBOB,
    a U.S. atmospheric nuclear test series conducted at the Nevada Test Site in 1957. This
    verification satisfies the requirements of 38 CFR 3.309 for his small B-cell lymphoma.
    Revision 3.1 of the Nuclear Test Personnel Review Program’s RA02 – Expedited
    Processing of Radiation Dose Assignment describes the methodology for expedited
    processing of radiation dose assessments to tissues or organs in response to requests from
    the Department of Veterans Affairs.

  19. I also served at Johnston Atoll, from 1975-1976. I was assigned to 267 chemical company (surveillance),I was an Army PFC-E3,my job was to open bomb storage bunkers,look and test for chemical leaks,I had to wear a gas mask,and full rubber suit, every day.I now have diabetes, heart disease, naropathy, high blood pressure!

    • You were exposed to plutonium and agent orange. were you there when they moved the AO to ther storage area north of the west end of the air strip? Or was it still stacked on pallets on the southwest end of the island? I was assigned to Sand Island USCG LORAN Station.

  20. Hello,
    I was stationed at Johnston 94-95. I was Military Police so I was all over the island. I heard stories about people getting sick after being stationed on JI. I was exposed to Nerve agent two times that I know of and was told it was below threshold level. Flash forward to 2015 and my doctor is telling me that I have a very rare form of urethral cancer. Less than 1% of the population will ever see this. After the tumor was removed I had reconstructive surgery in an attempt to make my genitalia look normal. I still have a good chance that this cancer will come back. I cannot say that JI caused my cancer but all of the cancer causing elements were there.

    • Hi Kenneth, I was there same time as you in the Air Force. I also have unexplained symptoms. I have a nodule on my thyroid. They are watching it carefully. I often have tingling in my feet for no reason. I have weird neurological episodes. None of this is normal or can be explained by anything!!! I have had various episodes of strange things that come and go and some only occur once! Very odd.

    • Hello
      I was an MP 93-94 there. In 03 I got lucky and bit my tongue. Long story short,radiation damaged my nerves and my right arm is almost useless and numb. Thrilled to still be here,but times are difficult with eating/ swallowing.

  21. morgan it is good to hear from you man.this is anthony warren from alabama we played softball for sqeeky we were the i see we are after the same thing with the same illnesses ,you and sanders from storage are the only ones ihave heard from since then.we may have to buddy letter for each other so stay in touch a.warren 717 goodwin ave anniston al 36207.drop a line if we can help each other or call 2564036601 later man.

  22. Can some one please tell me about the effects on the wildlife as a result of the tests? What is the status of them today? Are the bird eggs viable? Is there any defects in animal births?


    • From what I see on Youtube videos of people going to JI for the Fish and Wildlife Dept.,the birds and ants and other insects are doing well. Like us humans, though, who knows how many have died from all the exposure, we are just numbers that our government does not want to admit or acknowledge. Plutonium has a half life of 24000 years, so any of us that were at JI, are at risk. Took me 57 years to get lymphoma which is directly mentioned in the government studies of Johnston Island. Of course the VA will deny you any compensation routinely. i was there in 63-64 for 10 plus months.

  23. I was employed at Johnston thru Holmes and Narver 1964 and 1965; my responsibility was indoor but I had to verify inventory levels at various warehouses and storage yards around the island. During the weekends enjoyed snorkeling inside the reef perimeter. January 2016 I discovered that my thyroid was cancerous and had to be removed. My denial for compensation was received today – there will be a dispute; I am confident that my cancer originated there on JI.

    • John, I’m not a lawyer… just a historian/writer. I put some detailed info about JI in my book about Space Launch Complex Ten; the launch crews at Vandenberg rotated to JI. But I covered the Bluegill tests (the three attempts) to launch a nuke aboard a Thor missile. Lots of decon needed after those explosions. LOTS of decon.
      Nuke moratorium was after 1962. I think with the DOE reports on the Bluegill tests during Operation Dominic, your medical files, and a “nexus” report how radioactive materials cause cancer should be enough to appeal the denial.

    • Dear Mr.Carrier,
      My father was on the mid to late ’60’s with Holmes & Narver Inc. His name was James K.Woodruff and he worked as a Warehouseman/Expediter. Do you recall ever knowing him?

  24. I worked on JI for 9 months during 1986 for Telon Electric on the JACADS Project. I too have health problems, Cancer, and other things associated to the cancer. Makes me wonder about all the drunken nights and swimming in the lagoons and snorkeling

  25. I was stationed on Johnston Atoll from Sept. 1969 to Oct.1970 with the 24th ADS, primarily working in the Clean Room but also spent time on both Launch Emplacements. In the Clean Room we had the responsibility of tearing apart the fueling components of the Thor Missiles after launches, cleaning them, re-assembling and sealing them for storage until needed for a future launch. After complaining to a civilian Dr. I was told to this week that I have Peripheral Nephropathy in my lower legs and feet. No suggestions for treatment other than to lose weight. So far no other problems other than the pins and needles sensation most nights around 1:00a.m. I think I may check with the VA next just for the hell of it. Another thing we all need to think about, is that we all drank the contaminated water from the lagoon after it was de-salted!

    • Peter,

      Wish I had more 24 ADS contacts before I wrote the SLC-10 book. It would have been nice to have a “there a was” view of JI.

    • i was also there for about 120 days with USAF Geeia installing teletype.was there when Nixon came through. was out of clark ab. i have thick blood and have been on blood thinner for 17 years. i got coral in my feet from the tug of war we had with civilians we won 2 out of 3 times lol,,had to go to medical there to get the coral picked out of my feet.goooood food. sam derrick from south carolina

  26. Doug Byrne here. I was stationed there with Pete Beth and I also have neuro problems with my arms. They fall asleep and tingle in pain all night. Cant get a good nights sleep. God bless us all
    The thanks we get for serving.

  27. I was stationed on JI from 67-68. Worked on Sand Island at USAF Det 2, 18th Surveillance SQ. Three years ago I was diagnosed with two slow-growing brain tumors and osteopenia (reduction in bone density), BOTH conditions are directly caused by exposure to IONIZED RADIATION, a well-known staple in the environment at JI. I submitted a claim with the VA and guess what? DENIED! Two friends from the same time frame who also served on JI are now dead! Both, most likely from having received doses of plutonium. So while we all wait to be denied compensation…many of us are dying AS A DIRECT RESULT OF OUR SERVICE. How do I feel about it? Betrayed by the VA and those who deny the circumstances of our service.

  28. I was US Coast Guard LORAN C Electronics Technician Active Duty on Johnston Atoll from July 1981 to August 1982 I was downrange once a week to do preventive maintenance (PM) on the LORAN Monitoring equipment just outside of the agent storage yard and we were not allowed to do any PM work with out our gas mask in our possession mostly due to the proximity and being downwind of the chemical weapons revetments. 75% of my time was spent on Sand Island the US Coast Guards LORAN C Transmitting site as well as traveling across the lagoon in a 17′ Boston whaler from Johnston Island to Sand Island we also went snorkeling off of East Island. I have type II diabetes, peripheral nephropathy to the degree that the state i live in has issued me a permanent handicap placard for both of our vehicles. i also have benign familial tremor that i take multiple medications to try and control. i have filed multiple claims and all have been denied by the VA (this has been ongoing for 6 yrs and is at the applet level waiting to be heard by a law judge. does anyone know what i can do to show the VA that i was exposed. Lawrence W. Bittle

    • Mr. Bittle, After years of knocking on doors and banging my head against the wall, one day several years back someone steered me to “The Military Order of the Purple Heart.” There an advocate, who knows the system, took my case, and filed three claims for me in succession. I went from 20% to 60% to 80%. It took years, and I followed his advice to the letter; but all three claims went through. Even when I had a lawyer years went by with no progress.

      Might I also suggest a slightly different approach. Prove that the harm, either real or imagined, has caused you mental – intellectual distress, thereby, ptsd. .

      I was on Johnston – Sand Island, from ’75’ to ’76’ – the VA is checking me for three different cancers so far this year. but none of my claims are related to it, they, in part are related to the fear of it. .

    • Aloha Lawrence
      Just found an article on line. In your search bar type in “News for Veterans
      Exposed to Hericides Outside Vietnam. Print out right away.. States that
      DOD confirmed that AO was used on JI from April 1968 …up. Most online just talks about JI 1972 when AO was transfered to JI. I am now building a case for
      my husband on active duty salute of the Nixon/Their conference. He has diabetes, renal kidney failure, prostate cancer, highblood pressure etc.

      Keep in touch.. I am wondering why no one has thought of putting buddy letters online so that we can all communicate and use as evidence.

    • My dad worked on Johnston atoll in around the time you was there. He paved the runway. He passed away last month, but always swore that being on that island killed him. No one could ever find record of him being there???? He has heavy metal poisoning and his kidneys were gone. I was looking into this again…. I was born 10 months after he came back…. I am afraid I might have something wrong with me too…. Do you remember the crew that came to pace the runway? How could I find out any info?

  29. Dear all who have been stationed on Johnston Atoll. I am saddened although unfortunately not surprised to read about your health problems and the government’s denial of help. I am a researcher funded by the Finnish Academy, currently working on a project about the toxicity of war. I would be very thankful for the opportunity to speak to any or all of you about your experiences. Although I cannot provide healing or legal council, I can help get your stories and experiences out there to the research community and beyond, to help put pressure on a government that refuses to take responsibility for the wrongs it has committed.
    I will be on a research visit in Honolulu in April 2020 and will be in Colorado later in 2020. If any of you are in HI or CO and would be willing to meet and chat, I would greatly appreciate it. I am also happy to speak over Skype, that way it can work wherever you are. You can contact me at, also if you would just like to learn more about my research.
    Thank you in advance,
    Gitte du Plessis

  30. Loved them Boston Whalers, went at least once a week to sand Island to find Japanese fishing balls. Also worked on the Baker Nunn space track, i would help read the film identifying the rockets in space and plotted the location to the stars. Sounds complicated but it was real easy. Part time job to help past the time away. that was the for the National Science Foundation. He was a professer from Boston, where I was from and we talked a lot while we did our work. or waiting for the film to come over from Sand Island. Was the Camera still thehre when you where there?
    Did you guys still live on the 1st floor of the Holiday inn across from the JOC.

  31. I was there for operation Dominic October- November 1962 on board the USS Princeton LPH 5 as a landing signal enlisted we handled the helicopters used to pickup the pods that measured radiation from the bombs.I filed for the RECA award because of thyroid cancer which I was granted. It has been quite a fight with the VA they will not grant thyroid cancer or my other ailments. They only say I did not receive.enough radiation to cause my glaucoma even after having eye damage during the tests. The only reading I can get is my dosimeter which only shows gamma rays which is a distraction. I have requested the readings for the radionuclides that I breathed bathed in and drank, also the readings from the helicopters That flew in this contaminated area and the we handled on the ship.I may not get any satisfaction from the VA but I have learned a lot about what they did to us.


  33. I was TDY on JI from Nov 64 – june 65 from Japan. My unit installed the
    Comm in the Big Building and also the Telephone Cental Office in that Building.
    I as the one strip I used the Shovel to put in Junction Box’s as the Trancher
    burined Comm Cable. OurLeaders told us the Metter Readings where OK.
    Bull – I started getting Bone Joint problems around 35 years old.
    When I put in a Claim with the VA I got a Call and was advised to take me 10%
    pay and forget it. I live in a lot of pain.

  34. My father was a young Marine stationed on Johnston Island starting in September of 1946. He died in 1972 at the age of 43 from brain, leg, and lung cancer. I was 6 years old at the time. Back in the 1960s, he told my mother that he probably wouldn’t live much past 40. She thought it strange, but then it happened. Both she and I, at different points in our lives, have tried but been unsuccessful at receiving compensation for his sacrifice. I have his photo album from his time on Johnston Island and all his paperwork from when he served. My memories of him strong and yet I wish that I had years more.

  35. Interesting stuff. My great uncle was there to witness the tests of Operation Dominic in Christmas and Johnstone while on board the USS Falgout. He died 12-13 years ago from pancreatic cancer. Like everyone else who witnessed the tests he was sworn to secrecy and like so many other fellow test veterans he took his secret to the grave. My great aunt didn’t even knew he was in these tests until she looked through his documents. She believes that his pancreatic cancer, his previous health issues as well as his inability to conceive are all for sure connected to his time there.

  36. My names John Humphreys and I was on Johnson Island from Jan 1998 to Feb 1999. I was a CW3 in charge of the bunker area and all lots sent to JACADS. I really enjoyed my time there and met some great people. If anyone has any photos of JI being torn down I would appreciate it. Thanks

    • Hello, No, I have no photo’s on Johnson Island, Sorry but, If you go to google earth you can visit your home away from again if even for a very short time.
      This seems to be a base burn site for chem. waste and agents. Do you know what still remains usable on the island and is on safe to visit or was it harming the area birds, fish and coral’s??? or is that a story! what;s your view! Mark CW 4 retired

  37. I was in a detachment from VP-9, from Sept. 62 to Nov. 62, during operation Dominic. Until I read this, I did not realize how dangerous being on that Is. was, because of the contamination from the explosion of the the Thor Missile, and nuclear device, so soon after the explosion. I was there for one air burst detonation in Oct 62. We were there intermittently a few days at a time,flying patrols, keeping ships out of the testing area, and then returning to Barbers Point, in Oahu. Records show me there for two detonations. I don’t remember the second one. I was a radio operator at the time on the P2V Neptune.
    I had a child born with a heart defect,who died at age 6 1/2, and I later come down with prostate cancer, and an enlarged prostate and kidney problems. I have no idea if that contamination was the cause of my health issues, but the fact that so many of us were put in harms way, unknowingly, was unconscionable by our government and military leaders of that time.

  38. I was stationed on JI 1962 JTF8.3.9 USN, Operation Dominic. I served on LCU 1459. When the aborted Thor missile blew up on the launch pad our LCU had a camera crew taking pictures. I have had bladder cancer, ureter cancer, loss of kidney, melanoma and am now in stage 3 kidney disease. For those of you who do not know you may be eligible for $75,000 for your cancers. I’m presently at 90% disability and unemployable, have also put in for agent orange Vietnam. I have rec from DOJ $75,000 tax free money. The attorney I used name George H Daranyi, Tueson, AZ. Ph 520 318 4841. You may also call National Cancer Benefits Center, 800 414 4328. I hope this information will help some of you to get what you deserve.

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