Our Veterans Our Heroes – Douglas C. Daniels, PO3 (E4) – US Navy

Doug-Daniels on Johnson Island
Our Veterans Our Heroes

Our Veterans Our Heroes

While we were searching for Veteran stories for the Pahrump Life Magazine’s “Our Veterans, Our Heroes” section we received this story from Doug Daniels.  It REALLY got our attention because it was different from the previous stories.  It was also delayed because I needed to ensure the contents were not still classified by the United States Military or Department of Defense.  As far as I can determine, everything printed has been declassified.  Also, the VA Healthcare System needed to respond to some of the criticisms mentioned.  Now, you get to read it and determine for yourself what this ‘project’ was all about. 

Doug on Christmas Island

Here is HIS story in his own words that begins with “Project SHAD … The Terrible Untold Story.” 

Before I tell you my story, let me tell you a few things about myself so that you know I am NOT a fiction writer or a complainer.  I am merely a Veteran like most of you who joined the military to serve our country and, being young, I did as I was told and trusted my government to use my talents for National Defense. 

I was born on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, NYC {In the Flower/Fifth Avenue Hospital} and I Lived my first 18 years in New York.  I graduated from Commack High School on Long Island in 1964.  I joined the Navy less than a month after High School graduation I was in the service from 1964 to 1968.  I was promoted to the grade of PO3 (E4) in 22 months.  As most of my time in the service was spent in Special Ops/Military Intelligence Outfits, I didn’t advance any further because they kept me busy with classified missions.  After I got out of the service, I went to college for 9 years. 

Now, let me tell you about … 

Project SHAD … The Terrible Untold Story. 

If you look up Project Shad on-line, there are quite a few articles about it, but the one that hits closest to home is titled, “American Servicemen Used as Human Guinea Pigs”.  I know, because I was one of these “Human Guinea Pigs” and I have been having health problems and nightmares ever since. 

I never got in trouble as a child, which is one of the reasons I got such a high-security clearance.  Everyone on the ship (USS George Eastman YAG39) had a similar story and we were all cleared for top-secret or higher.  It took 37 years for SHAD to be partially declassified. 

Shad, or Project 112, is an acronym for Shipboard Hazard and Defense.  This was a cover story for using innocent American Sailors and Marines for atomic, biological, and chemical warfare. 

Phase ONE- The AIRBORNE Tests.  

The crew could sense when a new test was coming.  Leaves were canceled or rescheduled and, if someone was a short-timer (at the end of their enlistment), they would be transferred off the ship.  Lots of men in civilian clothes started visiting the ship, particularly in the aft deckhouse, which I was told was a laboratory (I don’t know for certain, because I was never inside it), the lights on the pier were tested and all kinds of unusual occurrences started happening.  Eventually, all liberty was canceled and the end of the pier was closed off by barriers and SPs.  

“To this day, I cannot find out what they injected me with. There are entire pages missing from my service records and large blank areas where more information once was.”

In the dead of night, the pier lights were turned off and the trucks arrived.  The tarps were pulled back and the cages full of rabbits or monkeys, or both rabbits and monkeys were loaded on the deck of the ship and we steamed out of Pearl Harbor in the dead of night with no one the wiser.  

Doug on Johnston Island

The mysterious civilians aboard cloistered in the aft deck house.  They mostly kept to themselves but after a few times, I was able to talk to them.  They said they were from the Smithsonian Institute, Department of Fisheries, or some other innocuous government agency.  

After sailing out to sea for a few weeks, the great day arrived and we donned the ABC (Atomic, Biological, and Chemical Suits).  We were told the Secretary of Defense, Bob McNamara, mentioned to President Lyndon Johnson that the Soviets were miles ahead of us in ABC Warfare and he was given carte blanche to let us catch up, so 5,500 of us with high clearances were “volunteered” for project Shad.  

The patch from the USS George Eastman

The jet appeared and sprayed “something” and soon the poor test animals convulsed and were dead within minutes.  Soon after, the elaborate water flushing system was turned on and the animal’s dead bodies were brought into the aft deckhouse.  

Now if you know anything about construction on a ship, there are nooks and crannies all over the place.  Even the stairs have hollow spots underneath.  It is impossible to reach every spot no matter how elaborate is the watering system.  

After being washed, we proceeded to the decontamination chamber for observation and further cleaning.  Ostensibly, the pathogenic agents had UV dye in them which would show up under the UV lights in the chamber and additional washing occurred.  

Phase TWO- INJECTIONS and VISITS to Exotic Islands.  

To this day, I cannot find out what they injected me with.  There are entire pages missing from my service records and large blank areas where more information once was.  I am always told this info is still classified.  In my service records, there are a lot of “N/A” or “test canceled” in the area for tests that I was part of.  However, I know well that we were injected before we took a “sea cruise” for no purpose with civilians on board.  A whole lot of that is still classified and I am in contact with some of the other guys involved and they are all sick in one form or another.  On top of this, 10 out of 11 of my crew members are dead already!  

The scenario went like this.  Guys in civilian clothes showed up again and we were inoculated against “Pathogenic Agents”.  Then we were told, “The Mission had been canceled and there would be no spraying this trip”, but the civilians stayed aboard anyhow.  This time they were all from the Smithsonian Institute and they were looking for residual radiation from the 1947 atomic tests in Marine Animals.  

We sailed around the ocean for months, visiting such exotic ports of call as Christmas Island, Danger Island in the Cook Islands, Palmyra Atoll, Starbuck Island, Baker Island, Howland Island, Malden Island, Jarvis Island, French Frigate Shoals, and I’m sure there were many more that I have since forgotten.  I never saw the “Smithsonian Guys” collect a single specimen.  


We were told, after another series of injections, that another test had been canceled and instead we were bringing relief supplies to American Samoa, which had recently been devastated by a Tropical Storm.  This time, I actually saw some supplies being loaded aboard, but the amount we brought there could have been carried by a ship that was one-fifth the size of ours.  

“The reports of illness and death continued. Finally, one guy had terminal cancer…he blew the whistle on Project Shad.”

When I was in college years later, I realized that we (the ship’s crew) were the experiment and the civilians were “company employees” who were observing us while convincingly playing a role that gullible teenagers fell for hook, line, and sinker.  

To this day, I cannot find out what was injected into me, but I saw a reference somewhere that it was Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis (you can’t make this up).  This is missing from my medical records, as many pages are missing and partially blank.  

Also, about this time LSD appeared on the ship, as well as Hawaiian Wood Rose (the state flower of Hawaii which is also hallucinogenic).  I cannot help but feel this was also part of the master plan, as a good part of the crew got high on both.  

About this same time, rumors started circulating, that guys from the early experiments were getting sick and/or dying.  I know for a fact, that a guy on a destroyer died and his death has never been explained.  

I was part of the crew when the USS George Eastman was decommissioned.  Amazingly, Naval records say, “Date Unknown”.  This is the only ship in modern times, that an exact date for decommissioning is missing and the crew was scattered to the four winds.  I have maintained contact with some of my former shipmates.  The reports of illness and death continued.  Finally, one guy had terminal cancer so bad, that he blew the whistle on Project Shad.  

At first, there was a government denial, but then, Congress looked into it and the story changed to, “No one suffered any harm from it”, even though the evidence was presented that Sarin, VX Nerve Gas, Airborne E.coli, Bacillus Globigii (a precursor to Anthrax), Zinc Cadmium Sulfide, Sulphur Dioxide, and others were used, even though the sickness and mortality rates said otherwise.  This does not even address the industrial decontaminants used to clean the ship.  Eventually, so many guys were sick and died from strange cancers, cardiac and respiratory ailments that they admitted there was a problem.  

Doug enjoying the beach

I had a shipmate that belonged to a Project SHAD support group in Southern California, and I would ask him about the meetings.  Four years ago, he told me he stopped going.  When I asked him why he told me he was the only one left.  The last figures I saw indicated that there were only 643 of us left alive, and that was 4 years ago.  I suspect the number is less than 500 still alive.  Nine out of ten deaths were from cancer, respiratory ailments and other maladies from SHAD.  

When I was telling this story to my VA Counselor, he told me he had only heard one thing as bad.  He said there was a little island about 1,000 miles from Hawaii, where all the guards were sick.  I stopped him and asked if he was talking about Johnston Atoll.  He looked at me quizzically and said, “Don’t tell me you were there too?”  Yes, I was, for 11 months and change, and it’s in my service jacket.  

When I was discharged, I had nightmares for years about Project SHAD experiences and Johnson Atoll.  I still suffer from PTSD about them.  

I waited until I was 28 to have my first child, always wondering if there were going to be genetic problems.  I spent approximately $20,000 (in 1970’s dollars) seeing allergists and dermatologists.  I’ve had constant problems with my sinuses that are a problem to this day.  I was constantly getting fungal based skin infections, which are somewhat controlled by meds I get from the VA.  I also have a spastic colon which is extremely painful, even with the VA prescribed medicines.  The Veteran’s Administration has accepted these as being Project SHAD related, but they still keep denying my claim for my prostate cancer in spite of letters from half a dozen non-VA doctors.  

Not one person I know from the ship doesn’t have medical problems, and almost all include sinus and respiratory problems.  Every time I read that there were no ill effects from Project SHAD, it makes me angry.  Much of the documentation is un-releasable due to the classified nature of the project.  

This entire matter is a black eye in our history.  It’s time that the public knew about this.  We recently bombed the Syrians for using Sarin.  Heck, my own country used Sarin on us.  

The last year I was on active duty in the service in 1967-68, I was sent to Vietnam.  To this day I wonder if this was an attempt to get me killed off.  

What Am I Doing Now?  

I have owned a rare coin business since 1953 and currently have a store on E Bay and attend trade shows.  I am a life member of the DAV and occasionally attend local meetings.  I am also a life member of the ANA and president of the Nye County Invitational Coin Club, a Twenty-year member of the Ferrari Club of America and I belong to numerous other organizations.  I am in charge of the car show at the chili cook-off and involved in other charity events.  

How I ended up in Pahrump is a mystery to me.  I’m a real city kid and I’ve lived in New York, London, Paris, Stockholm Sweden, Kaohsiung, China and Pampanga in the Philippines.  I am currently on my 4th passport as I do a lot of traveling.  

I love my house here and another factor was no smog checks as I have a lot of exotic vehicles.  

I have been with my wife Joy for 6 years now.  We met online and I visited her every 3 months for 3 years in the Philippines  Finally I brought her here on a fiancée visa and we got married and if I can ever get my medical issues straightened out, we’ll live happily ever after.  

We sincerely thank Doug for sharing his story with us and with all of you.  We agree that he deserves to “live happily ever after” for his service to our country and for what our government has put him through.  

NOTE:  You really needed to hear the words of Doug as he told his story.  Of course, the DoD and the VA provided some information giving the events from their points-of-view.  Here’s some of the information they have provided. 

Project 112/SHAD. … Project 112 consisted of both land-based and sea-based tests.  The sea-based tests (Project SHAD) were designed to identify U.S. warships’ vulnerabilities to attacks with chemical or biological warfare agents and to develop procedures to counter such attacks while maintaining a war-fighting capability. 

The VA offers this advice to military veterans who were part of the testing. 

If you were a part of chemical and biological warfare testing through Project 112 or Project Shipboard Hazard and Defense (SHAD), you may be at risk for certain illnesses. The Department of Defense’s Deseret Test Center in Fort Douglas, Utah, conducted this testing, which took place aboard ships and on land in various locations from 1962 to 1974. Find out if you can get disability compensation or benefits.

We (Ron Frazier and I, Tom Waters) know that there are other stories out there that NEED to be told.  Contact the Pahrump Life Magazine Staff (or me) if you want to share your story with the readers across the country and around the world.  


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