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September/October Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / Letters / President's Message / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Veterans Benefits Update / Membership Affairs Committee Report / Legislators View / ETABO Committee Report / PTSD Substance Abuse Comittee Report / TAPS / Region 7 Report / AVVA Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / VetsConnect Report / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report / Women Veterans Committee Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Chapter of The Year / Locator / Reunions

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SHAD/PROJECT 112 TASK FORCE REPORT

BY JACK ALDERSON, CHAIR

In June I was hit with a bit of nostalgia as I read the newspaper. President Bush had just signed a law making the Hawaiian Line Island chain the newest National Monument, previously a National Wildlife Refuge. Everyone was supposed to keep off. Well almost everyone. During the three years I was with the Light Tugs (LTs) as part of the Project SHAD technical staff, I participated in two bird cruises, one for 55 days and the other for three weeks. Three LTs were on each cruise. They carried Smithsonian ornithologists, who were there to check on the migratory habits of birds to see if they had somehow picked up some of our test materials.

Prior to starting the SHAD operations, the main Pacific site was selected near Johnston Atoll, thousands of miles from anywhere. The test planners knew that, with modern surveillance techniques, they could make sure there were
no unauthorized observers under, on, or over the ocean test site, with the exception of the pelagic birds that traveled thousands of miles in search of food.

DoD contracted with the Smithsonian Institution to monitor and plot the migratory habits of the central Pacific avian population. Monitoring was performed before the tests to verify the site selection, during the time of tests, and after testing was complete. The birds were captured, blood samples were taken, and the birds were banded and released. Coast Guard and Navy vessels and civilian charters were used to transport the scientific parties. Marlon Perkins of the TV show Animals in Action for Mutual of Omaha made a cruise on a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.

The Line Island bird cruise lasted three weeks. Departing from Pearl in mid-May 1967, it stopped at French Frigate Shoals, Gardener Pinnacles, Laysan, Lysianski, Pearl/Hermes, and Midway. All of us were warned that since these islands were part of the National Wildlife Refuge, special precautions must be taken. The only things we were allowed to leave behind were our footprints.

The islands were fantastic and the wildlife unafraid because they had never seen humans. Fairy terns, which have the ability to fly backwards, would do so in front of our faces and just out of reach. Other wildlife, such as the large monk seals, viewed humans with disinterest. The ocean was teeming with life and color.
The islands are now fully protected. There is nothing to indicate their part in the Cold War.

The Veterans Right to Know Act, H.R. 4259, did not get a hearing in the current session of Congress. We must wait until the next one is convened. In preparation for the next session, continuing efforts are being made to gather documentation concerning 112/SHAD testing and operations. We often receive e-mails and letters from people who say their units were in a SHAD test. Hard evidence is needed to make a strong case for 112/SHAD veterans and to get H.R. 4259 enacted into law. One person making a statement from a unit with a crew of thousands does not constitute evidence, no matter how sincere the statement sounds. What is needed is documented evidence that can be presented at congressional hearings concerning the 112/SHAD operations.

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