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Local Marines die, face health issues years after service at Camp Lejeune

11:51 PM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Section 7, Site 584 is where you will find Robin Yerdon's final resting place at Jacksonville's National Cemetery. 

He's one of six Terry Parker High graduates who joined the Marines in 1977. Of the six, three are dead, two have serious health issues following their service at Camp Lejeune. Only one is healthy.
Kyle Yerdon said dad never talked much about Camp Lejeune.

"I'm just really devastated that it all happened, really. I don't understand how our government could ever think about covering that up," Kyle Yerdon said.

First Coast vets speak out on impact of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune

Kyle and his brother no longer have a dad. Kyle said he is just learning details of the tainted ground water at Camp Lejeune that likely explains what happened.

A million gallons of aviation fuel that leaked with benzene, vinyl chloride and tetrcloroenthylene is causing health issues. Marines and their families who can prove they spent at least one month on base some time turning a 30-year span starting in 1957 are eligible for help.

Yerdon would have likely qualified, but he died before Congressional action

Sandra Lamb is a Jacksonville mom who has questions too. Her son, Edward, joined the Marines with his five Terry Parker buddies.   

"He couldn't breathe, very short of breath. He would always say 'my chest hurts,' and then his neck started swelling up," she said.

That was right before Christmas five years ago. Mom cherishes a picture taken weeks before his death.

Her son died of cancer, his Parker classmate Robin Yerdon from a rare heart condition and Wayne Nordie died with a compromised immune system. This mom shakes her head.

"It is devastating, it's heart breaking. I almost wish I didn't know," Lamb said.

Bob Kahaly and Frank Oshman were part of the group as well. They are battling cancer and neurological problems, lingering health issues they say from time served at Camp Lejeune.

Dean Altizer is the only one of the six that is healthy. He never was stationed Camp Lejeune.

"Well it was kind of slow. First Bobby had something. It didn't really click, and then Edward got sick, I still didn't really pertain it to Camp Lejeune, then Frank, then just kept snowballing," Altizer said.

It snowballed into service of another kind, The Poisoned Patriots Fund of America. Kahaly runs the operation from his modest Ponte Vedra home. A telephone and computer connects this organization to people wanting help and answers.

This mom has fond memories of the six Terry Parker grads who sought adventure together joining the Marines. Sandra Lamb hopes that may be some day, someone in the government acknowledges her loss.

"That's not asking for much. Just a few words, if they're sincere," Lamb said.

The VA is handling all the health care claims with 15 conditions, including a handful of different kinds of cancer being covered.
Some families say the law comes too late to give their Marine a fighting chance.

First Coast News

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