2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 5 Nov 2003 17:34:04 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Completion of Johnston Island work celebrated
Completion of Johnston Island work celebrated
By Karen Blakeman
November 5, 2003

For almost a decade, a small community of workers, mostly Army civilians
and contractors, spent their days on Johnston Island disassembling and
burning chemical warfare agents so dangerous and unpredictable that the
Army considered them unusable long before an international treaty banned

At night, the men and women watched movies at an outdoor theater, played
cards, fed leftovers from dinner to sharks, went to USO shows and drank
at the Tiki bar, which boasted that it served the coldest beer within a
radius of 800 miles.

"It was the adventure of a lifetime," said Gary McCloskey, former
manager of the weapons disposal program. "I don't want to undersell the
importance of the mission, or the dedication to safety, but this was the
greatest thing I could ever imagine doing in my life."

Last night, McCloskey and about 100 former residents of Johnston Island
met at the Hale Koa hotel in Waikiki, about 850 miles from the coral
outcropping they once called home, and lifted a glass to the Johnston
Atoll Chemical Agent Disposal System  a mission completed.

The Johnston Island facility now is rubble, sealed over by a coral cap.
The chemical weapons were disposed of without injury to workers and, as
far as testing to date has determined, without damage to the ecosystem.

Except for the ongoing Environmental Protection Agency follow-up
testing, the Army's work there is done. The rest of the U.S. arsenal of
chemical weapons  blister and nerve agents, some dating to World War II
 will be destroyed at eight other sites on the Mainland, using
procedures developed at Johnston Island.

This article can be viewed at:

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