Primary Source Report – ZJ

Committee to Study the Feasibility of, and Need for, Epidemiologic Studies of Adverse Reproductive Outcomes in the Families of Atomic Veterans, and Institute of Medicine. Adverse Reproductive Outcomes in Families of Atomic Veterans: The Feasibility of Epidemiologic Studies. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press, 1995. Accessed October 10, 2019. ProQuest Ebook Central.

This medical study was done to investigate the possibility of doing an epidemiological study on “Atomic Veterans” and their descendants.  The committee concludes that such a study is impossible, but that was not I want I got out of from reading this. This report details and references other medical studies about radiation and the health effects that are linked to exposure. The committee explains in simple terms these health issues as “adverse reproductive outcomes” and scientific terms such as background and manmade radiation. This source could be used in conjunction with personal testimonies from servicemen to explain that these nuclear tests had a negative effect on them.

“Help for ‘Atomic Veterans’ Praised by Legion.” New Voice of New York, Inc., Dec 27, 2000. 10.  Ethnic NewsWatch.

This source is more recent compared to the other sources that I used for this annotated bibliography. The then-National Commander of the American Legion reacted to changes by the Department of Veteran Affairs to change the definition of who is an “atomic veteran”. It goes beyond those who participated in tests. The proposal would include veterans who were assigned at some nuclear plants in the United States. However, it did not cover those who were stationed at the troubled plant in Hanford, Washington. It is the same plant that Kate Brown discussed in Plutopia. This source will help me consider inequality amongst the servicemen who served in uniform with these weapons. The inequality is that not every serviceman received benefits by the United States government for their service.

Lerager, Jim. “In the Shadow of the Mushroom Cloud: America’s Atomic Veterans.” USA Today, July 1988. 47-49. ProQuest Social Science Premium Collection.

Lerager interviewed several “atomic veterans” in this article who were exposed to nuclear fallout from the tests. Anthony Guarisco was at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Decades later, he was suffering from nerve, prostate, and bladder issues. His children and grandchildren also suffered from issues that Guarisco believed that he passed down to them. This source demonstrates how these veterans faced these painful medical problems, and the sense of betrayal that these men and their loved ones have because they were not told about what radiation exposure would do to their children and themselves. In short, these nuclear weapons were causing generational trauma that was being passed down.

 Nuclear Weapons Channel HD. “Radio Bikini FULL MOVIE Nuclear Weapons Channel HD,” YouTube, posted on March 31, 2017.

This documentary contains an interview with a man named John Smitherman. Smitherman was another serviceman who served in the Pacific during the nuclear tests in the 1940s. It is an oral history. This source provides me another individual who served and later became sick, which he believed that it came from his exposure to nuclear weapons. The film has scenes where the camera shows Smitherman’s entire body. You can see his swelled hand and he is in what appears as a wheelchair. He explains to the camera that his legs had to be amputated. Smitherman states that he and other enlisted men were never told about radiation, but he thinks that “radioactive exposure” was discussed within the officer ranks. Smitherman’s appearance, unlike the other sources here, clearly shows the physical toll that these servicemen went thought. I think it is more powerful to see it than just reading words.

Piehler, Kurt, Leli, Janet, and Brittan, Michael. “Robert Salvin.” Rutgers Oral History Archives. Last updated 2019.

This is an oral interview given by Robert Salvin in 1997. Robert Salvin was stationed in Bikini Atoll, but he left a month before the test occurred. He talked about his own experiences serving in the Pacific in the Navy. He was lucky. He talked about a reunion he attended in 1992 for the crew members who worked on “the second ship”. Salvin said that many men he served with were already dead. They got sick from cancer. Salvin’s recollections of his Navy service provides me what the servicemen did on duty, and their off time. One episode that he talks about that on Sundays his Captain would order his men to use the hoses in the harbor and spread water around. It was later that Salvin realized that the Captain was preparing them to wash the radiation off the ships that were exposed by tests. He only realized that when watching a documentary on the Discovery Channel in the 1990s. The other purpose that I can use this source is to show an example of how the US military was not honest about their activities in the region, and the enlisted men were the ones who did grunt work for them.

Keywords: global, pollution, popular culture, race, water