Some more storytelling: U.S. chemical testing in Hawaii

Listen to the interview: http://www.hawaiipublicradio.org/blair/033106.mp3
Hawai’i Public Radio
March 31, 2006
Senate Reso on Chem, Bio Testing
Chad Blair reporting

Jack Alderson: My name Jack Alderson. I am the chairman of the Vietnam Veterans of America task force on 112/SHAD.

Chad Blair: What’s 112/SHAD?

JA: 112 is a program that was developed by President Kennedy with Robert McNamara to catch the United States up with Russia. We were equal to Russia or better in nuclear weapons, but they were way ahead of us in chemical, biological and a whole bunch of other stuff. Project SHAD was one line item in the 112 program. Agent Orange was a line item in the 112 program.

And my position of being here today is I had command of five Army light tugs that had Navy crews on them and we operated out of Pearl Harbor and we tested chemical and biological weapons.

CB: Now this was in the 1960s?

JA: I was with project SHAD from 1964 to 1967. They continued testing in the Hawaiian area probably through 1971.

CB: Where exactly did the testing take place and about how many people might have been exposed?

JA: Chad, that’s kind of a different question.

One, the five LTs were the targets.

CB: LTs?

JA: Light Tugs. They were sampling stations. Marine jets would fly over and spray a vapor that would go downwind and the tugs would be stationed further downwind and as the cloud would go they would measure the strength in the cloud.

CB: how far offshore would this have been.

JA: Most of the cases they were way offshore, but in the Hawaiian islands, here, I was involved with tests that used simulants – Bacillus Globicii, Serratia Marcescens and E. Coli simulating a "hot weapon".

And an example is "Big Tom" we believe went across ‘Aiea and up the canyon to Schofield Barracks.

CB: Now you’re saying a biological cloud drifted from the ocean, up ‘Aiea and up to Schofield?

JA: Yes.

CB: It was planned for the clouds to drift in that area?

JA: Yes, it was, because one of the things is, the shore party from project SHAD, that was stationed in Pearl, set up laboratories up that canyon because they were trying to test what a jungle would do to this type of a weapon.
Now Serratia Marcescens has been known to create very strong health hazards and killed a couple of people on the mainland where these tests were done.

Bacillus Globicii is a live pathogen. It’s a cousin to Anthrax but not an Anthrax.

And then E. Coli, I think that everybody’s heard of E. Coli.

CB: When did this particular incident happen?

JA: Well that would have occurred in late 1965.

CB: How many people might have been exposed on O’ahu at that time?

JA: I think everybody that was living in that area, ‘Ewa.

CB: Is there any evidence that some people have suffered any kind of negative effects?

JA: One of the things we’re here today is to ask the legislature to ask the Congressional delegation from Hawai’i to support the Veteran’s Right to Know Act which also calls for civilian look at because Department of Defense has refused to release all of the information concerning these tests.

CB: Was that test an isolated one or were there perhaps others like that?
JA: There were several tests in this area during that time. On the Big Island, at the old artillery range -I was not there but some of my shipmates were - and VX was tested there along with certain biological thing.

CB: As someone who served in Vietnam, how does it make you feel what your government did to innocent civilians in this country?

JA: Well, I originally thought the reason my tug crews were getting sick was that the decontamination agents they used in cleaning up after the tests. Now we’re finding out that the trace elements and some of the simulants might be the bad guys and those are things that did come on the islands here. We didn’
t consider that hazardous at the time.

CB: Did many of them die premature deaths?

JA: I haven’t been able to find all of them. What we did was top secret. We were told if you ever say anything about it you’ll get free room and board at Leavenworth.

CB: Jack Alderson, I thank you for speaking with Hawai’i Public Radio.

JA: It’s my pleasure and thank you for getting the word out.

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