Northwest Whitecoat Reunion
One hundred twenty-five former U.S. Army Operation Whitecoat volunteers and their families converged at the Rockwood Church in Gresham, Ore., on Nov. 12–13, 2004, for the first Northwest Whitecoat reunion ever held.
With diverse backgrounds and experiences, they came to remember their time of service to God, country, and humanity, and rekindle old friendships and make new ones. Many were presented with medals and certificates of appreciation issued by the U.S. Army and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Fifty years ago in November, the first young man volunteered as a Whitecoat. Nineteen years later as the program ended, 2,300 young men had served in this unique way. As Seventh-day Adventists, these men willingly served their country in a non-combatant role that benefited humanity. Headquartered at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Md., they performed army-related duties at Walter Reed and Forest Glen in Washington, D.C.
As “human guinea pigs” in the country’s fight against biological warfare, researchers learned how deadly diseases spread, how the body behaves without rest, and how astronauts could function while ill. They were involved in 153 research projects, exposed to or vaccinated against anthrax, tularemia, plague, equine encephalitis, and many other diseases; and tested protective and decontamination suits. The knowledge gained is still highly valued today in treatment for burns, organ transplants, vaccines, and astronaut training.
The Whitecoat Foundation is attempting to contact the many Whitecoats for whom they have no contact information. Information about these individuals may be sent to Joel Craw at (360) 666-2706 or WhitecoatJBC@aol.com.