2015 Peabody Award For NPR's Investigation Of Secret Mustard Gas Testing NPR News' extensive investigation into secret mustard gas testings on WWII soldiers has won a 2015 Peabody Award.

2015 Peabody Award For NPR's Investigation Of Secret Mustard Gas Testing

Recognition Marks 63rd Peabody Award For NPR

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945. Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal hide caption

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Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal

Three test subjects enter a gas chamber, which will fill with mustard gas, as part of the military's secret chemical warfare testing in March 1945.

Courtesy of Edgewood Arsenal

Delve Into The Award-Winning NPR Investigations Series On Secret Mustard Gas Testings at NPR.org

Public Radio Station WQXR's Meet The Composer Also A Peabody Winner

April 19, 2016; Washington, D.C. – A groundbreaking special series and public interactive database by NPR's Investigations Unit uncovering race-based secret mustard gas testing during WWII has earned a 2015 George Foster Peabody Award. This series revealed, for the first time, that the Pentagon exposed more than 60,000 African-American and Japanese-American troops to mustard gas to look for racial differences in reactions, and that the Department of Veterans Affairs broke their promise to find and help the affected men.


"This is an excellent case of how a young journalist's instincts ended up helping some of our oldest surviving veterans," said NPR Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director Michael Oreskes. "Holding government institutions to account is one of our most important roles, even if it takes a long time. The army conducted these tests more than 70 years ago. But it took Caitlin Dickerson's curiosity and reporting to reveal that the chemical weapons testing was based on race. And with the help of Barbara Van Woerkom's relentless research, they did what the VA said it could not do—find the surviving veterans."

Search Our Database

As part of NPR's reporting on mustard gas experiments during World War II, we've put together a searchable database with more than 3,900 test subjects who had "full body exposure" to the gas. Courtesy of the families hide caption

SEARCH: Were You Or Your Relatives Exposed?
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Courtesy of the families

As part of the series, NPR amassed the first public database of American veterans who were exposed to mustard gas through testing. NPR's interactive database, compiled over six months, includes more than 3,900 individuals and information about the last known location of more than 1,700 of them. The database is continuously being updated and available at NPR.org.

This award is shared among members of NPR's Investigations Unit including Caitlin Dickerson, reporter; Barbara Van Woerkom, research librarian; Nicole Beemsterboer, senior producer; and Robert Little, senior supervising editor. In addition, Ariel Zambelich, news picture editor, and Christopher Groskopf, of the NPR Visuals Team, contributed to the visual and online reporting and production.

NPR's investigative reporting triggered impassioned and affecting responses from the families of these soldiers and by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Because of these pieces, lawmakers across the country have also promised to take action to ensure the test subjects receive compensation.

Scars Of The Past

Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Amelia Phillips Hale for NPR hide caption

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Amelia Phillips Hale for NPR

The Peabody Award for NPR's reporting on the secret mustard gas testings is NPR's 63rd nod from the prestigious program recognizing excellence in work by radio and television stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals.

Among this year's Peabody winners is another member of the public radio family with WQXR's Meet The Composer earning recognition in the radio/podcast category. Hosted by critically-acclaimed violist Nadia Sirota, the podcast takes listeners into the minds and creative processes of the composers making some of the most innovative, compelling and breathtakingly beautiful music today.

A full list of this year's winners is available at the Peabody Awards website.

About NPR

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