2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 26 Nov 2002 17:37:50 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Veterans learn of secret tests decades afterward
Veterans learn of secret tests decades afterward
News staff writer

Brady Franklin vividly remembers the bone-chilling experience of
standing lookout watches aboard a Navy destroyer plowing through the
North Atlantic in January and February 1965.

Temperatures plunged to minus 30 degrees at times, and salty ice coated
the heaving ship.

"It was all you could do to hold on," recalled Franklin, 57, of

But crew members aboard the USS Power were exposed to hazards more
insidious than the brutal weather and pounding waves, as they are
learning decades later. They were part of secret exercises in which
thousands of unprotected sailors were exposed to biological and chemical
agents, usually without their knowledge or permission.

Sketchy details of Project SHAD, or Shipboard Hazard and Defense, have
slipped out in recent years, alarming veterans who believe they have
ailments associated with their unwitting service as human guinea pigs.
The departments of defense and veterans affairs have promised a full
investigation, disclosure of health risks and, if needed, disability

But SHAD sailors are experiencing the same delays and frustration
encountered by veterans exposed to atomic radiation after World War II,
Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and chemical contamination in the
Persian Gulf War.

"I am appalled that the finest country in the world would submit its own
people to such stuff," Franklin said. "It's got to stop."

Franklin signed up in the Naval Reserve in the 11th grade and after,
graduating from high school in 1964, he was called to active duty aboard
the Power, an old World War II destroyer with a crew of more than 300.
He was the ship's barber.

The Power was deployed to Argentia, Newfoundland, in January 1965 for
"special operations," according to the ship's deck log. From Jan. 24
until Feb. 25, the Power embarked on 11 daylong cruises when the weather
cleared enough to permit operations, according to the log.

The crew didn't know the reason for the operations, but there were
suspicious occurrences, Franklin said. Special ventilators were
installed on the ship, and about a dozen Department of Defense and Army
personnel came aboard during exercises. Sometimes they swabbed the
tongues and noses of sailors for samples, he said.

"They had protective gear," Franklin said. "Nobody else had it."

In fact, Franklin said, sailors were not even issued sufficient clothing
to protect them against the bitter cold. At times, sailors were able to
endure only 15 minutes of shivering misery while tethered to lifelines
on exposed decks, he said.

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