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.

40 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.

  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.

  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

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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!

  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.

  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?


  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.

  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 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

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