Veterans Fall Sick After Serving at Secret Base But Received No Help

Air Force technician Mark Ely was assigned the task of inspecting Soviet fighter planes that had been surreptitiously acquired in the mid-1980s. 

The operation, which took place in underground hangars, was part of a clandestine project in the Nevada desert at the Tonopah Test Range (Area 52), 140 miles west of Las Vegas. Ely said he was required to sign a non-disclosure agreement due to the mission’s secrecy. Upholding the national interest was more important than life.  

While employed at the clandestine facility, Ely was in his twenties and in good physical shape. At 63 years old, he lives in Illinois, and he is facing potentially fatal effects as a result of radiation exposure.

The United States government tested nuclear bombs close to Area 52 for many years. The experiments released radioactive materials that were harmful to the surrounding area, according to a federal environmental evaluation from 1975. 

Ely says his lungs suffered, his liver is cystic, and lipomas (Benign fatty masses) began appearing, which he had surgically removed, and he lost the lining of his bladder.

Even after all this time has passed, he still cannot establish his presence at the Tonopah Test Range since his military records include several deployments but not that mission.

Dave Crete served as a military police officer at Area 52. After having a tumor removed from his back, he had respiratory problems, including chronic bronchitis. He claims to have observed a wide variety of malignancies over his eight years of searching for other veterans who had worked there.

Even though harmful substances were present in the region, the government’s 1975 evaluation said that suspending the operation would be ‘against the national interest’ and that the expenses were minor.

According to publicly accessible information from the Department of Labor, another group of government workers stationed in the same region, mostly from the Department of Energy, has received $25.7 billion in federal assistance. However, Ely and Crete, who are Air Force veterans, are not eligible for such benefits.

Ely feels abandoned. 

The Defense Department has acknowledged that both men served but declined to disclose their specific locations.