Carl Matison served on the USS Rochester from 1951-54
Carl Oscar Matison, Jr.
U.S.N., Retired ICC
USS Salt Lake City
Oscar "Bud" Matison, Jr., CEM
Carl Oscar "Bud" Matison, Jr., was on the ship throughout the
whole war. He retired from the Navy in 1957. When he got his
service records there were omissions regarding his participation
in "Operation Crossroads". Instead it said he was attending
firefighting school in Hawaii. The VA denied any connection on his
cancer from his service in the Navy. He never got over that.
He passed away Nov. 24, 1998.
Shipmate Francis VonRuden tells great
Story on Carl.
Message from Sandy:
See Letter submitted by Tom Matison to the
US Atomic Veterans Assoc.
Elect. Dept., Japan, Oct. 1945
Elect. Dept., 1945
U.S. Atomic Veterans
Carl Oscar (Bud) Matison
Thomas Matison sent email about his father's duty onboard the
USS Salt Lake City CA 25.
Website address: http://www.navsource.org/Archives/CA/ca25.htm
Date: Tue, 2 Nov 1999
Subject: Operation Crossroads and my father
Carl Oscar (Bud) Matison
CEM, USS Salt Lake City CA 25
1941 - 1946
Retired USN 1957
I would like to submit this letter I wrote, more out of
frustration and grief, regarding my dad's fight to get the VA to
recognize his cancer as being service connected. He suffered from
severe arthritis, bursitis in the neck, shoulders, knees and
hands. He had a patch of skin cancer removed in the late 1970s and
subsequently died from prostate cancer in November 1998.
He was a member of this fine organization and eagerly read each
bit of news regarding veterans and the radiation exposure issue. I
don't know if this is something that can be used but I feel that
dad's specific issue must be recorded, and not just in the files
of the government.
Nearly a year has past now since I stood in a covered enclave,
with the rain and wind blowing about me, as the final words were
spoken at my dads funeral. It was a gut wrenching experience as
the Naval Honor Guard fired their salute and the distant sounds of
Taps was heard, played at another ceremony nearby (Mom didn't want
it played at dads), but the timing couldn't have been better.
Placed next to the 'cigar box' which contained his ashes was a
photo of dad in his uniform, in black and white, with his hat
cocked back on his head which was how they wore them in the 40s
and 50s. No name tag, no medals, just a cocky and proud CEM who
didn't wear his ego on his chest. Dad was 81 when he died. A
cancer took him, a cancer which I believe came as a result of his
participation in the nuclear tests after W.W.II, but of course,
the government denies this.
Dad had prostate cancer, a cancer that the VA states is not
figured into the covered illnesses. He also however had skin
cancer removed from his groin, and later cancer throughout his
back; hot spots in his neck, shoulders and spine. Though in pain,
he complained little. His greatest pain was not the illness, but
from what he felt was the betrayal of the service he gave so much
Dad was on the USS Salt Lake City, CA 25 throughout the war. In
the end, the ship was selected for the nuclear tests at Bikini in
1946 (Operation Crossroads). Dad was there (Onsite Participant).
After the detonation tests, he and a crew went back aboard ship
and stayed, taking readings and attempting to "scrub down" the
ship. His mission was to start the generators for power. He was
first to arrive and the last to leave. He sometimes wore film
badges to determine radiation levels. After "Able and Baker"
detonations, it was determined that it was "too hot" to stay on
board so they left. The ship was later towed to California and was
sunk during target practice.
He often talked about his 20 years in the Navy, including being on
board the ship after the nuclear tests. It wasn't till many years
later that he requested a copy of his service records after being
treated for skin cancer. What he found, to his astonishment, was
that his participation in the tests were no where to be found. In
place during this time period was a notation signed by the
Executive Officer that he attended a "fire fighting school" in
Hawaii. He was then faced with, 'If it wasn't in the record, it
This started a crusade to correct the omission, subsequently
learning about and joining the Atomic Veterans Association. It was
through this organization he met other veterans who were exposed
to radiation but were denied assistance because it was not proven
their health problems were the result of their radiation exposure.
Through his association with the NAAV (National Association of
Atomic Veterans) he did finally receive recognition that he had
been there. Research done by the Nuclear section of the Naval
Department and the Defense Nuclear Agency confirmed this. They had
skimpy records at best regarding total REMs exposed to the
sailors, but it was something. He filed a claim concerning skin
cancer and waited while the wheels of government turned.
As the years went by his health deteriorated. Severe arthritis in
his neck, shoulders, knees and hands (which cropped up in 1957
when he retired) were his daily companions. His ability to receive
the medical care which was promised to him back in 1937 was
reduced, forcing him to pay more and more to receive civilian
care. He was then treated for prostate cancer. Claims were
submitted to the VA and other government organizations but always
returned with delays, 'that your claim is currently being
researched.' You see, if you wait long enough it won't matter, as
they will all be dead. That is what happened to my dad.
My brothers and I are grateful to the Navy, that we were able to
receive the benefits when we were young. But the benefits which
were promised to my dad evaporated and he became a non priority in
his later years, denied the proper care he was entitled to and
victim of the denial/ommision of his official involvement in the
Bikini tests and for coverage of service connected illness due to
the limited records kept and research done to date.
Those who wrote the entries of the service records are no doubt
dead, following the guidance of their superiors, under the guise
of national security I assume. I don't blame them for the testing
that was done. Their knowledge of radiation was limited at the
time and they had no way of knowing the long term effects of
exposure. But to ignore the health complaints of veterans who
willingly did their duty and to hide behind dated research or
biased medical opinions is wrong. It's financial, as I assume it
will open up Pandora's Box and all sorts of claims would be made
if the standards were relaxed. I find it interesting that the
cancers allowed by the VA is in inverse proportion to the amount
of specific cancers found by the NAAV in their limited Morbidity
Study. Veterans are dying at a record rate now and very soon now
it really won't matter, because if you wait long enough...