To play the media you will need to either update your browser to a recent version or update your Flash plugin. The captain had heard about Mr King through the RSGB - an organisation for amateur radio enthusiasts. During World War II, dozens were recruited by MI8 - a division of the British Military Intelligence department, and a cover name for the now-defunct Radio Security Service (RSS). Now that they are allowed to speak up, he seems disappointed that this ghost army of secret civilian listeners has not been given more credit for the part it played in the Allies toppling the Nazis - including the successful invasion of Normandy."The main success of the voluntary interceptors was in knowing what the enemy intelligence services were doing, what they believed and didn't believe, and we managed to manipulate them in that way through the agents that we controlled," he says.
Thousands of people are having "do not resuscitate" orders imposed on them without their families' consent, an audit of dying patients finds.
These historical photographs depict the forearms of human test subjects after being exposed to nitrogen mustard and lewisite agents in World War II experiments conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.
Segregated troops practice movement in protective gear at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the early 1940s. When he went to greet the visitor, he had no idea that soon he would become one of Britain's so-called "voluntary interceptors" - some 1,500 radio amateurs recruited to intercept secret codes broadcast by the Nazis and their allies during the war. Many of its members were youngsters curious about the possibilities offered by tinkering with radio receivers.
The purpose of their work was to intercept secret wireless transmissions by German and Italian agents in Britain. Army soldier during World War II, Rollins Edwards knew better than to refuse an assignment.
For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. When officers led him and a dozen others into a wooden gas chamber and locked the door, he didn't complain.
He was then given the instructions to scan shortwave bands and write down Morse code he discovered on a piece of paper.
His wife only found out about her husband's secret past in 1980 - more than three decades after he had stopped his interception activities.
And finally they opened the door and let us out, and the guys were just, they were in bad shape." 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. 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. Japanese-Americans were used as test subjects, serving as proxies for the enemy so scientists could explore how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect Japanese troops. Their reactions were used to establish what was "normal," and then compared to the minority troops. All of the World War II experiments with mustard gas were done in secret and weren't recorded on the subjects' official military records. 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. Steve Warren, director of press operations at the Pentagon, acknowledged NPR's findings and was quick to put distance between today's military and the World War II experiments.
So I think particularly for us in uniform, to hear and see something like this, it's stark.
Barbara Lee, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who sits on a House subcommittee for veterans affairs. She points to similarities between these tests and the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where U.S. It causes painful skin blisters and burns, and it can lead to serious, and sometimes life-threatening illnesses including leukemia, skin cancer, emphysema and asthma.
In 1991, federal officials for the first time admitted that the military conducted mustard gas experiments on enlisted men during World War II. Even once the program was declassified, however, the race-based experiments remained largely a secret until a researcher in Canada disclosed some of the details in 2008. Susan Smith, a medical historian at the University of Alberta in Canada, published an article in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. In it, she suggested that black and Puerto Rican troops were tested in search of an "ideal chemical soldier." If they were more resistant, they could be used on the front lines while white soldiers stayed back, protected from the gas.
The article received little media attention at the time, and the Department of Defense didn't respond. Despite months of federal records requests, NPR still hasn't been given access to hundreds of pages of documents related to the experiments, which could provide confirmation of the motivations behind them.


Much of what we know about the experiments has been provided by the remaining living test subjects.
Juan Lopez Negron, who's Puerto Rican, says he was involved in experiments known as the San Jose Project. Military documents show more than 100 experiments took place on the Panamanian island, chosen for its climate, which is similar to islands in the Pacific. They all died." Lopez Negron says he and the other soldiers were burned and felt sick almost immediately. Edwards says that crawling through fields saturated with mustard gas day after day as a young soldier took a toll on his body.
Edwards constantly scratches at the skin on his arms and legs, which still break out in rashes in the places he was burned by chemical weapons more than 70 years ago. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what he went through. But while Edwards wanted people to know what happened to him, others — like Louis Bessho — didn't like to talk about it. One evening, sitting in the living room, David Bessho asked his dad about an Army commendation hanging on the wall. David Bessho, who's now retired from the Army, says the award stood out from several others displayed beside it.
Where Louis Bessho's name appears on Page 10, the list begins to take on a curious similarity. The plan, which was approved by the Army's highest chemical warfare officer, could have "easily kill[ed] 5 million people." Japanese-American, African-American and Puerto Rican troops were confined to segregated units during World War II. They were considered less capable than their white counterparts, and most were assigned jobs accordingly, such as cooking and driving dump trucks. Matsumoto says her husband faced similar scrutiny in the military, but despite that, he was a proud American. NPR Photo Editor Ariel Zambelich and reporters Jani Actman and Lydia Emmanouilidou also contributed to this story.Copyright 2015 NPR. It's a moment when the United States military experimented on its own troops with mustard gas. INSKEEP: What we have today are even more troubling details from an NPR News investigation. The World War II experiments exposed African-American, Japanese-American and Puerto Rican troops to chemical weapons. GREENE: And they sought to find racial differences that could be exploited on the battlefield. ROLLINS EDWARDS: I'm glad I served and I appreciate - well, I don't appreciate what they did - hell, no, I don't - but everybody don't get a chance to serve their country.
DICKERSON: After basic training, Edwards was enrolled in a secret program to test the effects of mustard gas on humans. Some days, he says he was locked inside of a wooden gas chamber with about a dozen other black soldiers. And then some of the guys fainted and finally opened the door and let us out and the guys were just - they were in bad shape because they just couldn't control themselves.
And if he told anyone about the experiments, his commanding officer said he'd go to prison. EDWARDS: They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins. Documents show the military scientists thought people with darker skin might be more resistant to chemical weapons, and they tested that theory on black and Puerto Rican soldiers.
This was a time when military officials were worried that the German or Japanese armies would use mustard gas on Americans. Experts NPR spoke with say it appears the military hoped troops with darker skin would make ideal chemical soldiers. According to family members, Japanese-American subjects were told they were being tested as proxies for the Japanese enemy.
Now details of these experiments first surfaced in an academic journal article in 2008, but it received little attention. Until now, the military has never acknowledged these race-based tests, and for the first time, NPR tracked down some of the test subjects and their families.
DAVID BESSHO: It may have been something I noticed hanging up there for a while, but I remember it was probably in an evening in the TV room.


BESSHO: Because I noticed it was a little bit unusual saying that he volunteered to be exposed to chemical agents.
Bessho's father appears on page 10, followed by a curious similarity - Tanamachi, Kawasaki, Higashi, Sasaki.
And he just responded that, yeah, they were looking for Japanese-Americans to make sure the chemical agents had the same effect on Japanese as they did on white people. Their reactions were used to establish what was, quote, "normal" and compared to the minority soldiers, like Juan Lopez Negron, who's Puerto Rican. JUAN LOPEZ NEGRON: (Through interpreter) There was a siren, and then you had to get under a tree to protect yourself.
NEGRON: (Through interpreter) We had uniforms on to protect ourselves, but the animals didn't. DICKERSON: Military documents found by NPR show more than 100 experiments were done on San Jose Island. The most infamous were the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, where treatment was withheld from black sharecroppers so researchers could watch the disease. When told about race-based experiment with mustard gas, she pointed to similarities between the Tuskegee subjects and the minority soldiers used in these tests. DOROTHY ROBERTS: They were expendable, disposable, allegedly because of their biological difference.
DICKERSON: Black, Puerto Rican and Japanese-American soldiers were all confined to segregated units during World War II.
But she says even though her husband was tested as a proxy for the enemy, he was a proud American. DICKERSON: Congresswoman Barbara Lee is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and sits on a House subcommittee for Veterans Affairs. Quote, "It has been suggested that the relative resistance of Negroes may be related to the relatively thick horny layer of their skin." Now that's an official Army report. LEE: We owe those who are still alive, and the families, we owe them a huge debt, first of all. DICKERSON: Mustard gas reacts with human DNA within seconds of making contact, causing irreversible damage to the cells. Exposure can lead to life-threatening illnesses, like skin cancer, leukemia, emphysema or asthma. At 93, Rollins Edwards hasn't faced any of those diseases, but he's had decades of pain and discomfort because of the experiments. His arms and legs are covered with thick scabs the size of pancakes, and he scratches them until they bleed.
DICKERSON: Little bottles of lotion and aloe are scattered all over the house so his wife, Juanita, can try to soothe him when the scabs flare up. For years, he carried around a jar of those flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him.
STEVE WARREN: The first thing to be very clear about is that the Department of Defense does not conduct chemical weapons testing any longer. He's the Pentagon's top spokesman, and he says these experiments are difficult to even fathom today. WARREN: The idea of conducting racially-based experiments, it is just not something that we would even consider. I don't know that Americans knew what was next as they saw the Japanese and the Germans encircling the world. DICKERSON: He says he thinks all Americans struggle with some of the choices made during that time. INSKEEP: By the way, the Department of Veterans Affairs promised more than 20 years ago to provide benefits to veterans injured in mustard gas experiments. UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a bargain we made, and this goes to the essence of can you trust your government?



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