KEVIN OGLE reports
Earlier this year news that the army would conduct bio-terrorism tests in
central Oklahoma sent a near panic through some communities.
Clouds of clay dust and other substances were dropped to see if weather radar could detect a bio-terrorist attack. The army was up front and told those concerned what they were doing and promised there was nothing to worry about.
But it hasn't always been that way when the army was testing the atmosphere.
Oklahoma City and a local solider endured a secret exposure.
It was in the 1950s and America was in the height of the Cold War.
The United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a deadly race to produce the most powerful nuclear bombs. A cartoon turtle taught the children what to do in case the Soviets attacked.
Air raid drills were staged in every classroom and city across America. Little did Americans know they were already under attack -- by America.
"The human populations didn't know, the local governments didn't know, this was a secret army project that went on for 20 years," said author Leonard Cole.
The U.S. government was preparing for germ warfare by secretly spraying biological agents on its own citizens. The tests were conducted in 239 cities, including one of Oklahoma's most prominent communities.
"Among the hundreds and hundreds of tests that the army did, Stillwater, Oklahoma was targeted," said Cole, an expert on the Army's development of biological weapons. In some cities reports indicate Americans actually died because of the testing.
Government records show florescent particles of zinc cadmium sulfide were released in Stillwater in 1962.
"Cadmium itself is known to be one of the most highly toxic materials in small amounts that a human can be exposed to," Cole said.
Could Oklahomans have been made sick by that all those years ago could they still have lingering effects from it?
"If there were concentrations of it enough to make one sick, you could have serious consequences a person over a period of time could have illnesses that could range from cancer to organ failures," Cole said.
There was no medical monitoring of the population exposed to the particles and Payne County health officials have no records to show the affect, if any, on the people in the Stillwater area.
But different secret exposure tests would forever change the lives of other 0klahomans.
Arnold Parks of Oklahoma City loves to work in his yard. But he does it on painful legs and with aching arms, not to mention a bad heart. In 1965 Arnold was in the army when he was told he was going to be a test subject for some new medications.
But when he recently was given access to his medical records from 1965 he was stunned to learn those "medications" were anything but.
"And it states right in there on this date they gave me VX, on this date they gave me Sarin, on this date they gave me LSD," Parks said. "I was angry. As a matter of fact, I came unglued."
It hasn't been medically linked yet, but Parks now believes the small doses of the nerve agents Sarin and VX have affected his arms, legs and heart over the years.
"The VX they gave, it was a pill. And I asked the guy after I took that, you know, I asked him what was that? He said, 'Thats the new pill for polio.' "
And what Parks wrote down as terrible dreams during those two months of testing he now knows were hallucinations brought on by the LSD. Some of those hallucinations involved murder.
"Some of these hallucinations got a little bit scary," he said. "I think I had about four and the only one that was OK was the one that I watched this movie, it was a love story on TV. But there was no TV in the room, so I couldn't have watched that movie on TV. So it was all an acid trip, basically it was a trip but the other three was the killing things."
Parks believes after more than 35 years it's time the army made good for what they did to him. But, he's resigned to the fact that some things won't change.
"Pay me compensation," he said. "I want that and I would like to be treated. But I don't think they can treat this."
A spokesperson for the Veteran's Administration said once there is a medical link confirming the testing is to blame for Park's ailments, then he has a case. But, they say, not until then.