The following is a personal story submitted to Civilian Exposure and published as part of our new series: “Contamination Chronicles: Personal Stories of Exposure”. If you would like to submit your story, you may fill out our form here or send directly via email to share-@-civilianexposure.org.
In Sept 1976, I was aboard a C-130 Hurricane Hunter on TDY to Guam. Unknown to any of us maintenance crew members, the flight was going to fly through a Chinese Radiation Cloud to take air samples, as I found out later, to see what radiation isotopes the Chinese were using. Upon landing, the aircraft was NOT decontaminated. If not for this, we would never have known what happened.
I, and a large group of people, were called into the base theater and guards were placed on the doors. We were then briefed that we MAY have been exposed to radiation because they did not decontaminate the aircraft. They never told us we should dispose of our clothing or anything.
Then, at the end of the TDY as we were about to board the aircraft for the flight home, the pilot asked if everyone had gone by the hospital and picked up our medical records. We were looking at each other because we were not allowed to bring our medical records on a 30-day TDY. The pilot then explained he pulled everyone’s records using our TDY orders.
HE KNEW WE WERE GOING TO BE EXPOSED AND THEY HAD PLANNED ON HIDING OUR RECORDS.
The person I contacted on my copy of the TDY orders I kept, also told me those in the cockpit were on oxygen. Well, those of us in the BACK were not on oxygen! I spent 30 years looking for my medical records, and was told I would need a Congressman to get them. His secretary did a Congressional request to St Louis and was told they weren’t there. Then, she did a Congressional DOD records request, and I got a phone call from New Mexico (where they track AF radiation exposure). This doctor starts reading the parts of my records I was interested in, like when I injured my knee on the obstacle course in basic training, and didn’t run the 1-1/2 mile requirement, or march in graduation. All would have been nice to have to apply for my knee injury disability.
I am trying to get a confirmation of my exposure, but am hitting a brick wall. My records are stamped showing they were in Guam, but not why. I just want to get the recognition of my exposure, as I should be considered a radioactive veteran. Especially since they BRIEFED us that we had been exposed. There had to be 50 or more people who were in that auditorium, and I have the letter from the crew member who was in the cockpit. Thanks for your help.
- Author resides in Jacksonville, Florida
Note from the Editor: The account/editorial is verbatim from the author without edit, with only the omission of their name to preserve anonymity.
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