History in the Making

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From 1954-1973, the U.S. Army established an unlikely alliance with the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) Church and their unequivocal support for a series of biomedical experiments called Project Operation Whitecoat (POW). In a letter dated October 19, 1954, Dr. T. R. Flaiz, Secretary of the Medical Department of the General Conference of SDAs wrote to then- Surgeon General Major George E. Armstrong, “the medical research project which you have under way… offers an excellent opportunity for these young men to render a service which will be of value not only to military medicine but to public health generally.”1 While the notion of church, military and government cooperation, especially in regards to human experimentation may seem incongruous, unorthodox and paradoxical, the nature of the relationship that the church was able to maintain with the military hierarchy allowed for a series of biological experiments that can be considered a model of ethical human experimentation.