WAR VET TO APOLOGIZE FOR GUAM RADIATION COVERUP

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By Mar-Vic Cagurangan

HAGATNA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 4) – A retired Navy lieutenant who discovered radioactivity on Guam three days after a hydrogen bomb test in the Marshall Islandls in 1952, will apologize to the island’s residents for withholding the information for five decades, according to Robert Celestial, president of the Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors.

Celestial said retired Lt. Charles Bert Schreiber will offer a formal apology at today’s prayer vigil at Skinner Plaza, which will highlight the commemoration of Operation Ivy Mike.

"This is the first time that Schreiber came back to Guam since 1952. He will deliver a speech to formally apologize, especially to those who have suffered various diseases as a result of radiation exposure," Celestial said.

The Pacific Association of Radiation Survivors, which is spearheading the commemoration event, has invited Schreiber to come to Guam.

The Ivy Mike operation that involved the detonation of a hydrogen bomb in the Eniwetok Atoll on Nov. 1, 1952, produced an explosion more powerful than all the allied bombs dropped on world war II Europe.

Schreiber, now 82, was deployed to Commander Naval Forces Marianas on Oct. 27, 1952 as an atomic, biological and chemical warfare defense officer. He has since moved to Texas.

Schreiber accidentally detected the presence of alpha particles, the nucleus of a helium atom, in Guam waters while checking the Geiger counter, a gadget with a needle type scale that detects and measures radioactive presence.

He didn’t make any public disclosure about the detection of radioactive materials until he finally blew the whistle during his testimony before the Blue Ribbon Panel on Radioactive Contamination on Guam on July 30, 2001.

In his testimony, Schreiber told the investigating panel that he informed top officials at the admiral’s office about the radioactive fallout. He was told to "ignore" the radioactivity and to "keep my mouth shut, period."

"I then knew that something was very, very wrong. The cover-up started," he told the panel.

Schreiber said one question that continued to haunt him was: "Did I do the right thing following that order, or should I have had the courage the disobey my orders?"

November 4, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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