Declan felt guilty for not following up on this potentially lethal threat. He pledged to Matt, “I will join you in pursuing the association between deformed white blood cells and the patient deaths from the overwhelming infection that we have witnessed.”
While flying home to Wisconsin, Matt remembered that in reviewing Church’s chart after his death, Dr. Burke had found abnormal white cells. These appeared to be identical to those he had described at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in deceased Private Richard Burrows’ August 1971 smear. His superiors did not consider his finding important. Specialist Larkin had also observed these same white cells in Private Jamison ‘s blood smear in mid-1971 at the 85th Evacuation Hospital in Vietnam. His findings, too, were not considered clinically significant.
Matt said in a quiet voice into his tape recorder, “Here are three patients, Burrows, Jameson, and Church, for whom I now have firsthand information.” All three had died of a gangrenous septic disease with these abnormal white blood cells documented in their circulation. He began to experience pangs of guilt, for he, through no fault of his own, had unwittingly been part of enabling this vile fatal disease. He continued, “As a young enlisted man, should I have argued more strongly in proposing the reality of this dismissed fatal finding to my superiors? Had I been subjugated by the military culture?”
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