Vt. man on a mission to reveal the truth about atomic veterans

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) While watching WCAX News last month, Janice Decooman saw something that caught her eye.

"My husband goes, 'Write that down!' So I'm writing, writing, writing, and then I call Garry and just told him a little bit about my story," Decooman said.

"I received calls from not only Vermont but around the country," Garry DuFour said.

We first introduced you to the Dorset man four years ago. Decades ago, while working for U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, DuFour copied documents that shed light on the impact of nuclear testing on soldiers. Now, he's gathering atomic veterans and their families for a documentary he's filming. He hopes it will help get them compensation for their injuries or premature deaths.

Decooman never met DuFour before, but just moments after meeting him, she showed him documents she hasn't shown to anyone else. It's possible proof of what caused her father's death.

Janice Decooman: I've been given some things but mostly I got them in secret because no one wanted to talk about it.
WCAX Reporter Taylor Young: Why is that?
Janice Decooman: Because when someone died suddenly at a young age, after being in the military, for suspicious reasons, no one wants to talk about it.

That man is her father, Sherwood Klein. He was in the Air Force as a mechanic. She never met him. He died suddenly at age 28 from respiratory issues. She was only 3 months old. Pictures and letters show a handsome man who loved his wife-- but they also paint a much darker picture.

"Photos show him in places he talks about the different test sites he was at. He talks about the oxygen masks. He talks about the testing... So it doesn't take much to put it together," Decooman said.

Decooman believes her father's death was caused by radiation exposure in Nevada and other military sites.

"You have so much proof, I'm overwhelmed!" DuFour said.

One document shows proof Klein participated in an atomic bomb test in the Marshall Islands in 1946. DuFour plans to use these documents and Decooman's stories of her father for his documentary. So far, he's interviewed 11 veterans; his goal is 25.

"I'll have all of these heroes on film forever," DuFour said.

DuFour asks anyone who was an atomic veteran to contact him at 802-325-2925 or dgarrister@aol.com.