PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — Kendall Brock served 35 years with the 157th Air Refueling Wing of the National Guard at the former Pease Air Force Base before retiring.
In 2015, the retired chief master sergeant was diagnosed with stage 4 bladder and prostate cancer, his wife, Doris Brock, said in a recent interview.
“His doctor, his specialist, thought he had been exposed to Agent Orange and Kendall was never in Vietnam,” Doris said. “So that kind of raised some questions because he told us that the kind of cancer he had was very, very consistent with what he has seen with Agent Orange victims.”
By the time her husband was diagnosed, “there wasn’t anything we could do,” Doris said.
“He was given three to five years and he only lived two,” she said.
Kendall died June 30, 2017, at age 67.
Before his death, Doris had to watch her husband of 46 years go through agonizing chemotherapy treatments during the final two years of his life.
“That first treatment, it was a killer, it really was,” she said. “I watched him just deteriorate in a very short period of time. On his second treatment … four weeks later he was so weak and so debilitated he had difficulty walking. We had to take him for hydration every day at the hospital. He couldn’t keep anything down and you just watched him melt away and that was really tough.”
The Brocks lived in Candia while Kendall served his country at the guard base, but they moved to Colebrook when he retired.
During his 35 years with the guard, Kendall worked with petroleums, oils and lubricants at the guard base and also worked on aircraft maintenance.
Doris said her husband worked with 12 different chemicals on the base that were known carcinogens. She believes that exposure – along with his exposure to water contaminated with PFAS chemicals – caused his cancer.
She also contends, and others who worked at the guard base share her concerns, that there is an unusually high number of people at the 157th who ended up being diagnosed with cancer.
“I truly believe that that is the cause of not only his, but certainly several other people that I’m very close to who have died of cancers,” Doris said. “They’ve all been related cancers, their pancreas, their liver, their bladder, kidney.”
‘39 of those 62 are dead’
She stressed that among her tight-knit “small circle of friends” who became like family to the couple, 62 people have been diagnosed with cancer.
“And 39 of those 62 are dead,” she said. “I think that’s just crazy.”
Not only did her husband and other guardsmen fill the planes with jet fuels, but they used the fuel to clean with.
“They would use them to clean aircraft parts, their tools, to spray the aircraft,” Doris said.
She began conducting research about the former Pease Air Force Base when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.
“I had already known about the Pease water contamination … then we were noticing there were stories about the state of New Hampshire having the highest bladder cancer rate in the country, that there’s more children cancers here,” she said.
That led her to think “we have a definite issue” here.