The Impact of Gulf War Exposures/Illnesses/Deaths at Charleston AFB for AIRCREW MEMBERS

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gulfwarillnessby Denise Nichols, Staff Writer

A disturbing  and shocking listing of names hit my desk from a connection with the Charleston 141 unit of C-141 crewmembers that flew during Desert Storm.  This was a unit of 160 aircrew members, AF Reserve,  these units were some of the healthiest in the force at that time that had annual flight physicals and pilots that also flew with major airline companies. 

This list I received of names confirms at least 23 deaths since Operation Desert Storm(15 cancers, 1 stroke, 1 Blood disorder unspecified, 2 suicides, I house fire, 1 questionable death, 2 unknown causes) and at least 22 more suffering 20 with cancers and 2 with renal disease.  I am astonished that the DOD and/or CDC or anyone has not mobilized a full team of epidemiologists to do a full investigation.  I am equally astonished that US Representatives and US Senators that have been notified have done nothing.

     

I believe that the CDC should be contacted immediately to find out all of the facts without delay.  I also believe that this warrants full House and Senate VA Committee Joint Hearings and Senate and House Transportation Committee hearings.  These were gulf war veteran pilots they flew on mandays in support of Operation Desert Storm and they have struggled and their families that lost their loved ones have not been compensated by the VA. 

My concern has been there all along for our flight crews since I am a flight nurse and knew many of our pilots throughout the system in the reserves.  I was also concerned because of the symptoms ie neuro cognitive disorders ie memory, visual changes due to exposures and having monitored this for years 19 now!  I have watched every story of airline mishaps civilian and military through the 19 years and my questions and concerns have not been addressed!  I even spent time taking information to Senate and House Transportation Committees to have them exam the problems and hold hearings, they never did!

Also I noted the crashes of military airplanes that crashed carrying Presidential support equipment years back I believe if memory serves me in Wyoming during the Clinton time period? I also noted a USMC helicopter "Squadron One" taxi incident at Andrews AFB running a plane or helicopter into something while taxing is somewhat unusual especially with highly qualified pilots, I took news reports of that incident to the staffer for Former US Representative "B1" Bob Dornan, the military would not confirm or deny that the pilot was a gulf war veteran.  I have brought this up at the CDC conference on Gulf War illness in 1999.  Much less a couple of airplane crashes ie civilian commercial airlines in the 1990’s and air rescue helicopter crashes.

So many connecting points ignored that impacts not just military but civilians too!

So much that could be connected if there was true investigative journalism still existing in our news today but I guess they don’t want to dig and think.

In honor of the C-141 Crew members of Charleston Air Force Base and their devotion to their duty I now publish the list as known at the current time of Deaths.  Data on illnesses by name will not be published but statistics on this units illnesses as known is listed at the end.  Unfortunately I do not have dates of deaths but thankful to one of the officers of this unit that has stayed atuned to the health of his troops and fellow pilots this is what we have.  It is a shame that more units deployed during Desert Storm have not monitored the health of their unit members.

WE encourage Desert Storm veterans to set up SPECIFIC UNIT FACEBOOK PAGES on their unit they served with during 1990-91 and reconnect and get health surveys done.  What we have always been missing is unit specific research by location in theater or nondeployed.  The need is still there and we at VT will help you get the word out!

One Marine(from NY) did this back in the Government Reform and Oversight hearings in the 90’s and Former Congressman Shays had him testify to the results.  It took him awhile but I believe he located at least 98% of his people by reconnecting with the people that got involved in Family support type efforts during the war that had kept lists of family members, phone numbers, and locations.  He reconnected and did a survey of his members and the symptoms and health problems they were having and testified to the results.

This should have been set up when we served and tracked at every unit but it was not done but it is never too late and may definitely help investigators and researchers. It may trigger a closer look at Gulf War Illnesses by our elected officials in DC and encourage the VA to do the same!  The Gulf War I Veterans from 1990-91 will not be forgotten!

WE also ask DOD to make changes now to track the health of their current troops better, a lesson we thought they had learned from Gulf War 1.  The obligation starts while we are in service and should never end!  It does not just rest with Medical service personnel or those at the top but at unit level!  Units should have logs and computerized systems to track their indivduals so that later as troops transition to VA that they can also be reporting back to their own specific unit to compile the data.  It is an officer’s duty the health and welfare of their unit members.  It goes up and down the chain of command! 

I will say that a congrats go out to the Charleston unit individual and his concerned NCOIC’s that provided the information and has been tracking the problem through the years and sharing the information in the form of a newsletter informal to the past and current members of Charleston Aircrew alumni.

The names of those deaths , crew position, and cause of death that I was provided are:

1.  SMSGT George Culp Loadmaster AS 300 Brain Tumor
2.  MSGT Robert Sheffield Loadmaster AS707 Brain Tumor
3.  MSGT Craig Morris Loadmaster AS707 Colon Cancer
4.  SMSGT Barron Foster Loadmaster AS707 Brain Tumor Eye/
Brain
5.  TSGT Charlie Radford Loadmaster AS707  Tumor
6.  SSGT Phillipe Manore Loadmaster 16 AS 707 Cancer
7.  MSGT Herb Loveless  Flight Engineer  AS 707 Cancer(chest)
8.  MSGT Ed Goble   AS 315 Colon Cancer
9.  MSGT Rick Meyer AS 707 Flight Engineer*
10.  MSGT William Hawthorne AS 315 Flight Engineer*
11.  COL Archibald Martin Flight Surgeon AW 701 Cancer
12.  TSGT Candice Taylor Engineer AS 707 Blood Disease
13.  SMSGT Warren Thompson Loadmaster AS 707  Cancer
14.  COL Bruce Dobbs Pilot  Cancer
15.  LTCOL Trigg Wood Pilot Brain Tumor
16.  MSGT Elmore Jackson  Load Master Cancer
17.  LTCOL Jeff Bland  Pilot Questionable Death*
18.  LTCOL Glenn Butler Pilot Cancer
19.  Major Tom Legodais  Pilot Stroke
20.  Col James Miller Combat Sgdn/CC Unknown*
21.  SMSGT Dallas Sims 8 MAS/51 AP Sqnd  Unknown*
22.  JoAnn Russell 315th Current OPS  EYE and Liver Cancer
23  MSGT Buck Owens Flight Engineer Home Fire *

The ones listed as ill :  20 are cancers, 1 bilateral renal failure, , 1 kidney disease(unspecified)

 

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