University of Arizona

Jay Bankston Papers

Jay Bankston was born December 23, 1926 in Louisiana, died April 22, 1997 in Bisbee, Arizona. Marine Sgt. Jarrell M. “Jay” Banskton served on active duty with the United States Marines from July 1944 to October 1947 and from July 1950 to May 1951. He served aboard the USS Albemarle, a seaplane base in the Marshall Islands, in July 1946 where he worked on the assembly and handling of test units for nuclear detonations. The collection covers a court case and other documentation about radioactive fallout and its effects. Bankston used the material to submit a case for compensation to the Veterans Administration for a cancerous tumor he believed was caused by exposure to radiation during the “Operation Crossroads” detonation in July of 1946 in the Marshall Islands.

This collection includes correspondence, Court Case documents, Newspaper Articles and Technical Reports. The bulk of the collection relates to the federal trial brought against the United States by Irene Allen and about 1200 other plaintiffs for radiation poisoning caused by nuclear testing by the United States in Nevada in the 1950s. Stewart L. Udall is listed as an attorney for Irene Allen, et. al. or the “Downwinders” as they were known. The “Downwinders” were plaintiffs from the states of Arizona, Nevada and Utah in the 1982 federal trial that was unsuccessful in getting compensation for the plaintiffs. This trial eventually led to the passing of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act of 1990 that provides monetary compensation for people who develop cancer as a result of exposure to atmospheric nuclear testing. The digests and technical reports are research material used by Bankston in his attempt to receive compensation for cancer he believed he got as a result of his assignment to duty aboard the USS Albemarle while in the Marine Corps. He believed he was exposed to radiation when he worked on the preparations aboard the ship for “Operation Crossroads”, a major nuclear detonation in the Marshall Islands in July of 1946. The ship was within a 155 mile distance from the air and undersea tests conducted by the US Navy. Correspondence is directly related to his unsuccessful application for compensation with the Veterans Administration and with other veterans in various stages of applying for compensation. Bankston also corresponded with Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater to get support on his behalf with the Veterans Administration. In 1980 he became regional coordinator with the National Association of Atomic Veterans for the state of Arizona in order to represent atomic veterans and their widows.