Whitecoat Veterans Meet for Reunion

Have you ever heard of Operation Whitecoat? More than 2,300 United States Army men, many of them Seventh-day Adventists, serving from 1954 through 1973 volunteered to place their lives in harm's way — not necessarily on the front lines of the battlefield but as human guinea pigs. To help fight against possible germ warfare, these volunteers were exposed to different infectious agents and diseases in hopes of helping science learn how to counteract the effects. Many of us have since benefited from the antibiotics and poison control that have developed from this research.

These experiments took place at Fort Detrick, Md., in a 40-foot high sealed metal globe known as the “8 Ball.” In this globe, the men were exposed to biological warfare agents, which the soldier breathed from the dispensing device. The 8 Ball is now just a symbol of the past. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A Whitecoat reunion took place at the Holden Convention Center in Gladstone, Ore., Oct. 29 and 30, 2010. More than 200 Whitecoat veterans came together to reunite, tell some stories and worship God. James Pryde, Gladstone Oregon Police Chief, gave a warm welcome. Darold Bigger, retired Rear Admiral, gave the Sabbath morning sermon and in the afternoon His Praise Men’s Chorus presented a “Patriot Gospel Service,” directed by Finis Johnson. On Friday night and Sabbath evening, the men were given the opportunity to tell their experiences in the service and what they have done since. From the stories told, it is clear these men were not only positive Christian role models in the Army but have been since those days as well. Bob Seyley voiced what many were thinking: “I’m looking forward for our next reunion to be in Heaven.”

January 01, 2011 / Oregon Conference