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.
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.