My name is Scott “Stacker” Allen, and I was a Navy pilot. I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Deliberate Force (Bosnia). I flew the carrier-based E-2C Hawkeye (radar plane), as a member of the Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) community, and I deployed four times to the Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean, Adriatic, and North Atlantic among others. I flew over 3200 hours in the Hawkeye and have over 290 carrier landings. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve my country in the United States Navy. I retired from active duty in 2010. Four years after my retirement I was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer. I began to wonder if I was the only one affected, so I did some research and discovered that I was not…
So, I compiled a list of E-2 Hawkeye aircrew, that I knew personally, who were also diagnosed with cancer. Seven of those Hawkeye aircrew were squadron mates that I flew missions with in 2 different squadrons (VAW-120, VAW-124) and now they are gone. Many more are cancer survivors, currently in remission, but the average age of those that I could confirm who died from cancer (based on their online obituaries) was 42. This is not a huge list, at least not yet, but based on my rough math it reflects a 16X higher risk of death by cancer than the general population. Here are their names –
JIM “GOAT” GODEK
RON “MAD DOG” MARULLO
TERRY “BOBBY V” VINTON
DENNIS “LES VEGAS” HASSMAN
JOHN “Q-BALL” QUINLAN
JASON “CHUD” CHUDERWITZ
JAMES IAN “REV” MAIZE
As I looked at this list it just didn’t make sense to me given that aspiring navy pilots and NFOs must be in peak physical and physiological condition to be accepted as an officer or naval aircrew candidate. Basically, you must be a ‘perfect’ physical specimen to be admitted to the pilot or NFO training pipeline. The Naval Air Medical Institute (NAMI) is responsible for ensuring all personnel meet the most stringent requirements. So, each aviator was evaluated by NAMI and has a documented baseline in their health records. I wondered how all these men could go from peak health at 22 to death by various forms of cancer by 42. That’s what I need to understand.
The worst part isn’t not knowing what caused my cancer, it’s knowing that good men like those listed above died because they weren’t informed of their risk of cancer in time, at least that’s my assessment. I started hawkeyeInitiative.org to honor the memory of men like my friend Ron Marullo by creating a database for the survivors that can hopefully save lives by getting the word out. Those who served in the AEW&C community are my family and if there’s even the slightest chance the efforts of hawkeyeinitiative.org can save one life with the facts and data we collect then it’s worth it.