I grew up in Tooele (pronounced too-ill-uhh), Utah. In March of 1968 The United States Army conducted a test of the chemical nerve agent VX at the Dugway Proving Grounds, located some 60 miles southwest of my home town at the southern end of the Utah Test and Training Range. I was 9 years old at the time. I’m sure that many such tests were conducted at Dugway, but on this date (March 13 or 14) something went terribly wrong. The morning following the test nearby ranchers woke to find their sheep dead or dying. The total number of sheep killed is estimated to be near 6, 000. Of course the Army denied responsibility for the deaths but a report, that remained classified until 1978 and was unreleased to the public until 1998, showed that VX was found in snow and grass samples that were collected three weeks after the incident. To my knowledge the Army has never officially taken responsibility for the incident.
In 1974, when I was a freshman in high school, a Hollywood film studio came to Tooele and filmed a movie “Wiffs”, starring Elliott Gould. This movie was loosely based on the 1968 Dugway incident.
A childhood neighbor of mine, Craig Rosenburg, has a post on his blog about this incident. Another account can be found here, as well as on Wikipedia.
Tooele was an interesting place to grow up during the height of the Cold War. Surrounded by military test and storage sites, I remember watching military jets fly low just to the north of town on their way to the Utah Test and Training Range. When I was old enough to drive, my friends and I would sometimes drive out near the range to watch as the jet would practice air-to-ground attack runs. Besides Dugway and the Test and Training Range there was the Tooele Army Depot (TAD). TAD was probably the largest employer in Tooele County. It was divided into two parts, the North Area and the South Area. My father worked in the North Area as a mechanic. Most of the North area was repair shops and storage areas, there were rows and rows of round buildings my father told me were storage for tanks. the North Area also did “disposal” of munitions in an area west of the main complex. This area was less than 10 miles due west from my home. I can remember hearing loud booms during the day and looking out to the west to see small mushroom clouds of smoke rising in the sky. The South Area, located 16 miles south of Tooele, was much more “secret”, although among the residents an open secret, and served as the storage site for much of
the countries chemical weapons at the time.
So what prompted this post? My friend, Craig, has a video posted on YouTube “KEep toOeLE pUNk” that has apparently been censored.
According to Craig “there’s nothing top secret or classified in this video. Some pictures of signs, roads, and a few places in Skull Valley including Iosepa, an early Hawaiian Mormon settlement. There is no commentary on the video with the exception of one spoken sentence, ‘this area here is where the infamous “sheep Incident” occurred back in 1968 when 6,000 sheep were mysteriously poisoned by VX Agent.'” Taken from a Facebook post of his regarding the apparent censorship