They drank it, bathed in it, and swam in it.
Now thousands of people across the country are learning that they were exposed to contaminated water at a military base in North Carolina.
Some of them now live in our area.
One year ago a 39 year old Tallahassee resident was diagnosed with male breast cancer.
It was discovered by his wife as she hugged him.
Now, Mike Partain is on a hunt for the truth and he is joined by a a very powerful ally.
Congressman Allen Boyd says, "We think it's time that the Navy open up and tell us what they knew, when they knew it and be cooperative in this effort to try to find out what happened and then we'll have a little bit of a better handle on it."
Congressman Boyd is the latest player in the investigation of water contamination at Camp Lejeune from sometime in the 1950's to 1987.
One year ago, Tallahassee resident Mike Partain, was diagnosed with breast cancer.
He was in his mother's womb while she was exposed to the toxic tap water at the North Carolina base.
Who would have thought that water his mother drank 40 years ago while she was pregnant with him would possibly be the cause of his cancer?
It's a question that drives him to find the answer and fuels his anger and spurs him to action.
Mike Partain says, "Every time I come across a family, the stories are heartbreaking. If Margaret had not given me that hug, this time last year, I would be a dead man right now.
And, to know that our government knew that I was exposed, there is just no excuse for that.
And there are people out there who are dying and have died that shouldn't be. And that's a crime."
His wife, Margaret, shares his anger. Margaret Partain says, "When you take a drink you should know that the water you're drinking is safe."
Mike says he's learned that nine local families have been impacted by the toxic water... all with a family member who was diagnosed with or died from cancer.
"I want to see the Marine Corps notify the people. Anyone that was on that base drinking that water. they need to be notified.
And they need to be notified in a manner that is factual, and forthright." Congressman Boyd says it boils down to doing what's right: "It's not enough just to say that I support the troops, that's not just a saying.
That means that by-golly we have to provide the resources, the funds to give them what they need to accomplish their mission, and if something bad has happened to their families or to them, then we need to fully disclose what we know so that these folks can get the help that they need. So, I'm a little disappointed in the way the Department of Defense has handled this and we're going to push to see that they do right."
Mike completed his chemo last November and is doing much better. He just returned from a meeting in Atlanta where the Marines released one of the reports that Congressman Boyd has been wanting available to the public.
There are still lots of questions surrounding this... but finally, answers are starting to surface.
For more information Mike Partain can be reached at: email@example.com
Please visit the website, The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten www.tftptf.com for discussion, information and historical documents pertaining to the contamination.
For information concerning the ongoing health studies at Camp Lejeune please see http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/SITES/LEJEUNE/