The post title comes from a 1946 “Paper Bullets” booklet that was “DEDICATED to the men and women of the Overseas Branch, United States Office of War Information… to serve their country as propagandists in time of war….”
…like mustard gas, which clings to the ground for months after battle, psychological warfare and its poison of hate and distrust linger on for years.
Fast forward to 2016 and American soldiers still suffer from mustard gas experimentation done on them. They were told by their government to never speak about it and were denied healthcare claims.
We girls could not use perfume, we could not use hairspray, anything in the house” because of his ailment.
Daughter Beverly Howe, a nurse trained in chemical, biological and radiological treatment from Thomasville, Ga., said she interviewed her father for a school paper in the early 1970s, and he disclosed the gassing reluctantly to her for the first time. As a nurse, she recognized the symptoms from her training. “He said it was secret and they weren’t supposed to talk about it,” she said. “If they did, they’d be in big trouble.”
Then, while visiting a Veterans Administration hospital in Columbia, Mo., in the late 1980s or early 1990s, a VA X-ray technician who had seen Arlie Harrell’s records asked if he had ever been exposed to mustard gas.
“I was mostly horrified when I saw the look of terror in my dad’s eyes,” said Ayers, who was with her father at that appointment. “The man told him it was OK, you can talk about it now. He said, ‘Yes,’ and that was about it.”
Put these two themes together and you get a story about lingering effects of mustard gas mixed with racism (hate and distrust).
Edwards was one of 60,000 enlisted men enrolled in a once-secret government program — formally declassified in 1993 — to test mustard gas and other chemical agents on American troops. But there was a specific reason he was chosen: Edwards is African-American.
“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins,” Edwards says.
An NPR investigation has found evidence that Edwards’ experience was not unique. While the Pentagon admitted decades ago that it used American troops as test subjects in experiments with mustard gas, until now, officials have never spoken about the tests that grouped subjects by race.
All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren’t recorded on the subjects’ official military records. Most do not have proof of what they went through. They received no follow-up health care or monitoring of any kind. And they were sworn to secrecy about the tests under threat of dishonorable discharge and military prison time, leaving some unable to receive adequate medical treatment for their injuries, because they couldn’t tell doctors what happened to them.