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Interview with Navor Tito Valdez, June 20, 2005


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Narrator affiliation: Core driller, Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company (REECo); Uranium miner; Downwinder

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Valdez, Navor Tito. Interview, 2005 June 20. MS-00818. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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Nevada Test Site Oral History Project University of Nevada, Las Vegas Interview with Navor Valdez June 20, 2005 Las Vegas, Nevada Interview Conducted By Charlie Deitrich © 2007 by UNLV Libraries Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews conducted by an interviewer/ researcher with an interviewee/ narrator who possesses firsthand knowledge of historically significant events. The goal is to create an archive which adds relevant material to the existing historical record. Oral history recordings and transcripts are primary source material and do not represent the final, verified, or complete narrative of the events under discussion. Rather, oral history is a spoken remembrance or dialogue, reflecting the interviewee’s memories, points of view and personal opinions about events in response to the interviewer’s specific questions. Oral history interviews document each interviewee’s personal engagement with the history in question. They are unique records, reflecting the particular meaning the interviewee draws from her/ his individual life experience. Produced by: The Nevada Test Site Oral History Project Departments of History and Sociology University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 89154- 5020 Director and Editor Mary Palevsky Principal Investigators Robert Futrell, Dept. of Sociology Andrew Kirk, Dept. of History The material in the Nevada Test Site Oral History Project archive is based upon work supported by the U. S. Dept. of Energy under award number DEFG52- 03NV99203 and the U. S. Dept. of Education under award number P116Z040093. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these recordings and transcripts are those of project participants— oral history interviewees and/ or oral history interviewers— and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Energy or the U. S. Department of Education. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Navor T. Valdez June 20, 2005 Conducted by Charlie Deitrich Table of Contents Introduction: born New Mexico ( 1942), family background, life in Carbon County, UT mining towns, possible exposure to radiation as Downwinder and as uranium miner, thyroid cancer 1 Military service ( 1959), marriage and family, work for U. S. Forest Service and other jobs, work on oil rigs 6 Work as miner in Pioche, NV and Moab, UT ( 1967- 1969) 8 Uranium mining and safety 11 Moves to mining at the NTS ( 1969), talks again about possible exposure as miner and Downwinder in Carbon County, UT, early work on drill rigs at NTS ( 1963, 1965, 1966), first impressions of NTS 13 Returns to work as miner and driller for REECo at NTS ( 1969), strike and return to Moab, UT as uranium miner, return to NTS ( 1970- 1978) 17 Awareness of radiation, exposure, and dangers during the 1970s 23 Leaves NTS, returns to coal mining in Price, UT ( 1978), then back to NTS 26 Recalls general foreman ( Papa) Howard Allen 27 Moves to heavy equipment operation at NTS ( 1981) 28 Talks about danger and accidents in mining and drilling work, and safety issues at the NTS 30 Recalls work in construction and heavy equipment at the NTS ( 1981- 2004) 33 Work as general foreman. Tells story about of earlier request to sign paper acknowledging minority status and objection to that ( 1969- 1970), and treatment of workers at NTS 37 Views on job and role in the Cold War 38 Experiences with protesters at the NTS 39 Talks about health problems and radiation treatments for thyroid cancer 42 Attempts to receive compensation for work- related injury ( thyroid cancer) 50 Need for acknowledgement by U. S. Government of testing- related injuries to workers, future safety in mining and testing 55 Conclusion: changing perceptions of nuclear power, need for more safety, more awareness, acceptance and acknowledgement by the government 57 UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 1 Interview with Navor T. Valdez June 20, 2005 in Las Vegas, NV Conducted by Charlie Deitrich [ 00: 00: 00] Begin Track 2, Disc 1. Charlie Deitrich: OK, we’re recording. Could you state your full name and with the date and place of birth? Navor Valdez: OK, my name is Navor T. Valdez. Navor Tito Valdez. I was born in Monero, New Mexico. I have been in Nevada more than anywhere else. But I was raised in Utah. I went in the Army when I was seventeen- and- a- half and more or less migrated from there to Nevada. I’ve been really in Nevada from about ’ 60 off and on for many years. Could you tell me a little bit about your parents and their names? My mother’s maiden name is Maria Montoya. My father was Navor Valdez. And they were both from New Mexico. And they migrated from New Mexico to Utah because he worked in the coal mines, and that’s where he went. That’s how we ended up in Utah. Where at in Utah? Price, Utah. Actually, Rains, Utah. It’s a mining community. There’s about five little towns up the canyon out of Helper, Utah. And from there, we went to the town of Helper, to Price, and I was there till I went in the Army when I was, like I say, seventeen- and- a- half years old. This sounds like a small town. Yes, Helper, probably the max might’ve been 3,000 people if there was ever that many. Price is a little bigger. But other than that, they’re actually small towns really. They’re all mining towns? Yes, they’re mining towns there. Coal mines. Mainly the only industry there that was really big was the railroad and coal mining. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 2 Siblings? Brothers and sisters? Yes, I had two brothers, one sister, and one brother’s deceased and so is one sister. So the only living brother I have is now my brother Albert. And he ended up with throat cancer. Not thyroid. Throat cancer. He just came back from Long Beach. He had radiation treatments through the Veterans’. What did he do for a living? He didn’t work in mines that much. He was more or less raised in Utah, too, and he moved here to Vegas and, you know, he just worked here in town, but that’s about it. What was it like growing up in the small kind of mining towns? What was that experience like? Well, I enjoyed it. I think afterwards I realized, especially when I had my first bout with cancer, that I used to read a lot of articles and so forth. And I think at that time they didn’t say the downwind went that far, but then I’ve a lot of articles since that it’s as far as Butte, Montana this downwind went. And at that time, when we were younger, I remember my mother used to buy not pasteurized milk, buy raw milk in the little town of Wellington because it was much cheaper, you know. And I honestly feel that the downwinding went farther than they try to say it did, especially when it went as far as Butte, Montana. So how has it not got as far as Carbon County? So here’s the cows eating the grass, and if there’s any fallout, well, where’s it go? The milk. I do know that when I had my bout with cancer, when I was twenty- six years old I worked in a uranium mine in Moab, Utah. At that particular time, I used at the section of the mine that was more highly radiated than the other section of the mine. There’s two sections you work. They had lost my dosimeter records one time, and being I was in the mostly high radiated area, they pulled me out of the mine and worked me outside till I guess they determined they found the records. They never did really tell me. So they put me back in the mine. Meanwhile, while I was UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 3 working there, I developed a big tumor in the side of my neck on the right side. I paid no attention to it. Finally, one of my co- workers asked me, you know, What’s that? You got a swollen gland or something on your right side. I says, Well, I don’t know, I guess maybe I ought to talk to the doctor. Well, what happened is I had broke my finger, pulled the nail off and broke it, so I had to go to the doctor to get it sewed up. When I did, I asked the doctor about that. I said, Doc, I’ve got this tumor I’ve had here. [ 00: 05: 00] Well, no, excuse me, I went to him prior to that and he give me penicillin, thinking it was a swollen gland. When I broke my finger that I had went back maybe two months later, three, whatever it was, I asked him if he ever determined what was wrong with this tumor I had in my— well, he said it was a swollen gland in my neck, and that’s when he told me that he was going to have to send me to Grand Junction to a specialist. And my sister worked with this Dr. Griese [ sp] that she told me that I should go see first, before I went to Grand Junction, and I did. And the first thing that man, when he seen my swollen gland in my neck or supposedly, which was cancerous, asked me if I had this rotten discharge taste in my mouth and I said, Sure do. He told me, You’re going to the hospital tonight. We’re going to operate on you tomorrow. So they did. They removed my tumor, and then he come in there and told me that two weeks from the date that he had removed the tumor, he was going to have to do more surgery on my thyroid. And I asked him at the time why. Well, he didn’t let me know that I had cancer. He did let my parents and my wife at that time know that I had cancer and that I had to go back [ for] surgery, which I did two weeks later. At the time, they claimed they removed half my thyroid, and after I had my thyroid, supposedly half of it removed, I started taking medication for thyroid. And from there, I went right back to work in the uranium mines, and I was there just a little over a year. But at the time, when I put in for the Department of Justice that UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 4 I told them that was the first time that I developed it, they tried to say that I was not working long enough in the uranium mine to develop that, you know, it should’ve been maybe longer. My contention is who knows how much radiation, how much you can do? I was in the mostly high radiated section of the mine, and the reason I stayed in that section of the mine instead of the other section was because I knew the mine very well, and we was contract mining. We got paid by the amount of work we did, not by the hour. So like I said, I feel it couldn’t have helped me at all. And are they as people to say that it’s not possible it could’ve happened? I feel they had a lot to do with it because they pulled me out of this, like I told you, section of the mine to keep me out of the radiated area, but yet I’m hauling all the ore back and forth at the mine. So it concentrates, you know. I don’t think it was done very well at one time. It’s like I said before, if I was to do it all over again, I sure wouldn’t do what I did. Sure. Let’s go back a little bit. I’m kind of curious. What was your date of birth? I don’t know if you— Oh, I’m sorry, March 1, 1942. So when were you in Utah? Were you in Utah in the fifties, as a kid? Yes. See, I was— now, that I’m going to say, I was less than probably two or three years old when we moved to Utah. OK, so that was like the end of World War II. Oh, yes, because I went through grade school and everything in Utah, from the first grade. And I left in ’ 59 to go in the Army. So then you were like throughout most of the atmospheric testing at the [ Nevada] test site, you were in Utah. Oh, yes. Yes. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 5 OK. I mean as a kid, did you guys know about that atmospheric testing? Never did. I was too young and probably, you know, it was never mentioned that I can recall. See, that’s why my Dr. Griese, thyroid, Carbon County had the most outbreak of thyroid cancer. He could never understand it. Because when I had my bout, Dr. Griese goes, I don’t understand it, but we’re just having way too much thyroid cancer in Carbon County, Utah, which is Price, Utah and Helper and so forth. What was the name of the doctor? Dr. Griese. Do you have the spelling of that? I’ll tell you what, I’ve got his— let me see. I’ll tell you what, I’ve got— I saved everything here. As you’re looking for that, I was just wondering like as a kid growing up in a small mining town, what do you do for fun? What were your activities, hobbies, stuff like that? Oh, here it is right here. I tell you what it was. When we lived in the mining camp, there was not a whole lot to do. We just played in the mountains, if you want to know the truth. When we went [ 00: 10: 00] to town, just hanging out and so forth, you know. I never really did that much. We played a lot of baseball, basketball, as we were growing up, when we lived in Helper. But when we lived in the mining camps, there was not a whole lot to do then. But when we were in Carbon, I played a lot of baseball. I played it all through my years till after I was fifty years old. Is that right? Oh, yes. Another one of my big entertainments was my movies. If I didn’t go to church, I didn’t get to go to the movie, so I made sure I went to church to go to the movie. Let me see, this is the— Did you play baseball in high school? You know, and I never did for the school. I did everything else but for the school. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 6 Like Babe Ruth, stuff like that? Yes, everything, Pony League, Little League. What were your goals in high school? Do you remember like, you know— I think I mainly wanted to be a mechanic. I remember that’s why I went in the Army. And Lordy, here’s everything I had then, but it was Dr. Peters referred me to— now, let me see. Moab Medical Center. Dr. Peters [ was] the one [ who] referred me to Dr. Griese, but Dr. Griese did the surgery. I’ve got it all here somewhere. We can go through it later. I just wanted to double- check the spelling on that. So you wanted to be a mechanic in high school, and that’s why you ultimately joined the Army? I went in the Army then and they had put me in mechanic, which I did get to do, but it was more or less on- the- job training. I didn’t get to go to school. And I only went in as National Guard. In other words, six months. And my intentions were, if I liked it good, then I was going to do like my brother Albert. He went six months, got out, and he knew that he didn’t want to do National Guard time like I did, so he went back in for two years. That’s what my concession was. A lot of our friends were going in for six months, they liked it. If you went regular Army, it’s three years anyhow. So anyhow, that’s how we— but I didn’t get the training I wanted, so I couldn’t see going back. Plus I got married very young. How old were you when you got married? Let’s see, when I got married I was nineteen years old. My wife was seventeen at the time. My first child was born when I was twenty years old. Wow. So you were just in the National Guard, then, for six months? Yes, when I was in the Army, yeah. That’s what they called it. Called the Weekend Warriors. And then what did you do when you got out? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 7 When I got out, well, like I say, I ended up probably getting married within a year after I got out. Well, then, I had to go to work. So I worked for the [ U. S.] Forest Service a lot, worked on the railroad, and then I worked on the oil rigs a lot. I worked on drilling on the oil rigs from the time I was twenty years old till I was twenty- five. That’s when I went mining, after that. What did you do for the Forest Service? We used to more or less, they had larvae that used to attack the trees, and we used to go spray this larvae to actually kill the larvae so next year it wouldn’t become a beetle and contaminate the other trees. So I did that off and on for I think two years. Plus we used to go fight forest fires. Did you like it? Was it fun? I really enjoyed it. We were always in the mountains, you know. The only thing is, just strictly in the camp, you know. But no, I enjoyed it. I was in Wyoming, Utah, in a lot of places. We fought a forest fire one time, it was, well, not exactly out of McCall but where the Snake River runs where the Oregon- Idaho border is where the big redwood trees are at, you know. So I got to see a lot, like I did a little bit in the Army, not too much. Were you stationed just in the States when you were in the Army? I was stationed at Fort Ord, California. That’s why I say, I didn’t get to go nowhere, go to school, just on- the- job training. Yes. Why’d you leave the Forest Service? Well, because it’s only seasonal work. See, what it is, soon as it starts snowing, well, they’ll start getting— I even used to survey at times. After we would finish spraying the beetles and so forth, the larvae, we would go ahead and survey for the following year, see what new trees were attacked, so the following year they could come and spray them. But as soon as it’d get, you UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 8 know, where the weather was too bad, that was just— it was seasonal. And so I had to do a lot of odd jobs. Sure. What were some of the odd jobs you had to do to kind of make ends meet? [ 00: 15: 00] I worked one time for this cleaner service, and I used to deliver dry cleaning clothes to Moab, Utah, which was I think Moab’s about 100, maybe 110 miles. I don���t remember for sure any more. But anyhow, I used to deliver there and in town and so forth. So I worked for a cleaning service for a while. Railroad. Worked construction, regular road construction. Just anything just to keep me working. Yes. Whatever it took, right? Whatever it took. And then after that, the next big gig was the oil rigs, is that right? Yes, that’s from the time I was twenty years old until I was twenty- five. That’s when my daughter, my oldest daughter Penny, which she’s forty- three now, she was going to start school, first grade, because at that time they really didn’t have much for kindergarten, you know. So then, at that time, my ex- wife told me that she couldn’t follow me no more, so that’s when I had gone to Pioche, Nevada. I had a father- in- law and my mother- in- law that lived there because he used to work in the mine, silver, lead, and zinc mine, and I asked for Charlie Steen that actually owned the uranium mine in Moab, Utah. That was his mine, Pan Am[ erican] Mine [ in Pioche]. And so we went to visit him and I told him that it looked like I was going to have to follow the oil field by myself because she’s going to have to stay in one place. That’s when he told me he was the head mechanic for Charlie Steen, told me then, he said, Well, let me see. Would you like mining? So I’m more or less, Well, I don’t know, I’ve never done it but, you know, to make a long story short, he got me the job. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 9 Well, when they asked you if you wanted to do the mining, did part of you go, “ I’ve been around it my whole life,” and even if you didn’t have any experience it was kind of—? Yes, but I didn’t like the coal mines, I mean because it was so much dangerous, the coal mines, you know. I ended up working them, but I didn’t like it. But anyhow, but this was later on. So I went and got a job there at Pioche, and we were there till the mine closed down, and I think that was eleven months. Then after that, we went to Moab, Utah. That’s when I went to work in the uranium mine. When you’re growing up around coal miners, I mean you have to kind of be a fly on the wall and hear them talk every now and then. What was their perception of what they did? Well, like my father, for instance, he used to be a machine operator, you know, and he got banged up so bad that he had to retire early because he almost lost one leg, you know. And I had a lot of uncles worked— I had two of them got killed in— well, one was a cousin, one was an uncle— in one of the mines. It was just a very dangerous job, but that was the only thing they could get to make money, you know what I mean? So it’s just a way of life. And then they end up, a lot of them, with black lungs. One of my step- dads ended up with black lung, and he’s been very fortunate. He’s quite a few years up. But anytime you work underground, you’re going to pay the price. I don’t care what it is. Because diesel smoke— when I was in Moab, Utah, a lot of our scrubber systems, they didn’t work. I mean you could go in ahead and it was plumb black. You would blow the air to blow everything out, but still�� you didn’t realize the harm it was going to do you. The year after I left the mine in Moab Utah, still I would cough off phlegm plumb black. A year after? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 10 A year after. That’s what I was telling them, I couldn’t believe it. So put it this way: anytime you do any type of mining, you’re going to pay the price. I don’t care what they say. So you kind of— I mean I guess when they offered you the job in Moab, I’m sure there’s something in the back of your mind going, I wish I didn’t have to mine. No. I’ll tell you why. Because I made very good money. I was just like the rest of these young kids that worked years ago. They don’t realize the consequences they’re going to pay behind it. When you’re a young person, you’re making that good of money, you don’t look at the risk that’s down there. As you get older, you wonder, well, I was dumber than a bed bug to do something like that. But it’s a little bit too late. At the time, it was very hard physical work, and I was not that experienced at it, so when I got in Moab, they showed me how to run a jack leg, a lot of things, you know. But the money I used to make. I said man, how many kids, you know, this age that are making this kind of money? Because I was, what, twenty- six years old, possibly, then, because I quit at twenty- five, went to Pan Am, and went to Moab. I was a young man. So you were twenty- six. That’s what, ’ 68, I guess, is when you started? I would say yes. I could get my dates even better, but it was like I said, I quit Roughneck- 25 [ 00: 20: 00] and went to work at the Pan Am in Pioche, Nevada, was there almost a year, then I went to Moab, Utah. When I come back out here— no, let me see, that was— let’s see, I went in the Army ’ 59, to ’ 60, come out here in 1969 mining at the Nevada Test Site. So my uranium mining was done from, had to be what, ’ 65 to— no, wait a minute, ’ 67 to ’ 69, because I think I hired on [ at the NTS] in ’ 69, yeah. So it was a two- year period there. So it was about two years when you were in Moab doing the uranium mining. Yes, a little over a year that I worked, because I just made enough time— I tell you what, I got it right here. Uranium mines let me start up here at Ely. When I was in Ely is in ’ 67, 04/ 67 to UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 11 10/ 67. Oh, and then I went to Ely, Nevada to roughneck a little bit before I went to Atlas Minerals. Atlas Minerals, I’ve got 11/ 67 to 05/ 69. When you say “ roughneck,” what does that mean? That’s working on the oil rigs. Working, in other words, drilling for oil. It’s actually oil rigs, I should’ve said, but we call it roughnecking, is what you do. And then we worked from 05/ 69 to 06/ 70 here at the test site. We went on strike, and then I went back to the uranium mines and the coal mines. We were on strike for six months. I worked three months in Moab, again another uranium mine, and then I went and worked in a coal mine for the first time for three months, and then I come back out here in 1970. So when you started working at Moab, that was the first time you did any uranium mining, right? Yes, uh huh. Was there any sense, as a twenty- six- year- old man, of what uranium was? I mean was it, you know—? Truthfully, I knew what they used it for, but as far as what damage it could do to you as an individual, no, I never really– see, in them times, they don’t have like they do now. They do a lot of safety meetings, a lot of features. In them times, if you were qualified to go to work, you went to work. Now grant you, they did keep records supposedly of how highly the area was radiated when you was in there, you know, and they used to log it down. That’s what your foreman did. But like I say, for some reason, at one time, they lost mine. So they pulled me out of that section of that mine. I think I was only outside about two weeks, but I was still hauling the ore in and out of the mine, so I was still exposed. It wasn’t as though they took me two weeks and sent me home and come back, you know. But like I say, now I’m pretty sure things are a lot more safe, a lot more contained. I know it is where I work. But at that time, no. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 12 Was there any conversations between you and your co- workers of— I don’t know, I guess I’m just looking for— because now, looking back, you think uranium? Yikes! You know. Was there any sense—? Yes, now the word scares me, but at that time— It was just a good- paying gig? It was just I was doing good. I figured they knew what they was taking care of, so I depended on everybody else, I should say, you know. Like I say, now, I guarantee you, I’d make extra precautions because I know even if better safety issues were done, I wouldn’t do it no more. Because of the consequences. I don’t really feel they know exactly how much damage they can do to individuals. They tell you they don’t, but then all of a sudden, why, they’ve been compensating everybody because, you know, they’re downwinding and people have got contaminated. Because it wasn’t taken care of. Was there any sense— I mean you knew that uranium was used for atomic weapons, right? You knew— Well, mainly I just knew that they were using it, yeah, and I mean I’ve always known that, but I didn’t— it just didn’t figure to me. Nobody ever took me to Los Alamos or here to, here, here’s where it’s going, or something. You know, I don’t know. I guess what I’m looking for is a lot of— I mean was there a sense of, you know, we’re in the Cold War, was there a sense of kind of a greater patriotic thing you guys were doing, or was it, again, just it was a good- paying job and that was—? Well, I feel that that’s what they was doing, but as far as lecturing me about it, no. You know, they didn’t come to me saying, man, you’re doing great for the United States and whatever that and all. Nothing like that was ever approached. I just knew it was made into plutonium and, you UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 13 [ 00: 25: 00] know. How they used it, I never questioned until, like I say, mainly probably when I come out here. Yes, so describe that process, going from Moab, being a uranium miner, to the test site. Well, I’ll tell you what it is. They come down there looking for miners. You had to have two years’ experience. You had to learn how to run a jack leg. And at that time, I’d already had my bout with cancer. So I had got a job one time, same person that run the mine in Moab when I worked— Virgil Biddie [ sp], if I remember right. He was running a mine in, oh Lordy, in California, in Desert Center. Well, I went down there, and I think it’s Kaiser, if I remember right. I had the job, so I left Moab to go down there. I took my brother- in- law with me, Gary. To make a long story short, I couldn’t pass the physical because me having that thyroid cancer, they said it’d take at least five years to a clean bill of health because I had too great insurance. Yet when I was in Moab, they told me as long as I had a good back, knew how to run a jack leg, they wasn’t concerned, so I could come. When I come down here they were already made aware of all this, and so I got the job, you know, and I stayed here [ Nevada]. Like I say, we only stayed about a year. They went on strike, then I went back to Utah for four more months, and then when the strike was over with, I come back. A “ jack leg”? Yes, that’s what you drill with, what you drill a heading with. Jack leg and jumbos. Is that like a— how many— It’s a machine that drills into the ground, just like I did in Moab. You got to drill and blast, in other words. OK. I just never heard of jack leg before. Yes, it’s a machine you drill with. Jack leg is a machine you drill with. UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 14 OK. Is that like a one- person thing? Yes, exactly. Just a six- foot drill. All depends what you’re drilling. Two foot, four foot, six foot, even as far as an eight- foot drill run on a jack leg. When you were at Moab and you had the growth and they took it out, did you know then, did you have a suspicion then, that it was probably because of what you were doing in the mines and stuff? Well, not at first, because like I told you, when they removed that tumor, the doctor didn’t let me know it was cancerous till after he did this surgery on my thyroid, because that’s where the cancer leaders come from. Then I did, I questioned it a little bit, but never— I think, like I told you, because I’d only worked there a year, they assumed that I didn’t work in the uranium mine long enough to have this exposure. So my contention is a lot of it, well, maybe yes and maybe no, but if this downwinding went to Carbon County in all them years that I was— supposedly if there was downwinding there, too, that they say there wasn’t. And me drinking this raw milk, and then going getting exposed to radiation. Who knows? Maybe it took two exposures to develop. I don’t know. But their contention was when I put in for this uranium mine, for thyroid cancer, at the time they was only paying for lung cancer for uranium mine workers. See, and I got a problem with my lungs now, you know. But anyhow, they just more or less told me no. But now as time gets on, everything that I see that I read or I get told about, they can sit there and tell me no, but I believe otherwise. And I’ll always— today I’m just lucky I’m still around to still be able to talk about it. Yes. What did you do— who did you work for at the test site? Was it REECo [ Reynolds Electrical and Engineering Company]? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 15 Yes, when I first come here, yes. See, but I come here the very first time on a drill rig, in 1963. That’s when I showed here that I had— 1963, 11/ 63 to 10/ 64 at the test site. That’s when I used to work on the oil rigs. I worked out here three different times. Like I say, ’ 63, ’ 65, ’ 66. I worked three different bouts that I come back. We’d only work for a short time, then we’d leave. At that time, it wasn’t for REECo. Well, it was for a private contractor, Moran Brothers, who I worked for. I worked for them for over two years at one time. And that’s who I used to come out with. Then one other time, I worked for another drilling contractor. But the first time, we stayed eleven months, from November— I’ll never forget the date, November of ’ 03 to, you know. Sixty- three? Yes. Matter of fact, the day President [ John F.] Kennedy was shot, that’s the day that I was out there. That’s why I’ll never forget it. That’s why I said— Yes, November 22nd. [ 00: 30: 00] Whatever it was, you know. I remember it was just November. And I was there till the tenth month of sixty [ four]— we was there eleven months that time. What was your first impression of the test site? Too damn far to go to work. That’s my first impression. Couldn’t believe it. And they used to have the old road they used to call the Widowmaker, you know, it was a two- lane, and they had portions of it as freeway. Well, like I say, I made better money here. They paid us more than we did in the outside world, as far as I’m concerned, I would call it. Because I used to make actually like almost a dollar more an hour by coming out here. And then we used to get benefits, gas and so forth, and— They paid for your gas? UNLV Nevada Test Site Oral History Project 16 Well, no, no, not the company. The company I worked for. In other words, they would furnish you your supply car, you know. So what I’m saying, we got a little bit more benefits. That’s what encouraged me to come back here to work. Because I seen the amount of money they could make opposed to where I was making in Colorado, Utah, or Wyoming, or wherever I had to follow th