As a 1-AO conscientious objector, Collegedale, Illinois resident William Twombly served his country alongside caged guinea pigs in the Utah desert, where he and a dozen fellow non-combatant soldiers — with their own complement of guinea pigs — were exposed to Q fever as part of the U.S. Army's Operation Whitecoat.

Drafted in December 1954 and discharged in December of 1956, the then-21-year-old Twombly was among more than 2,300 conscientious objectors who participated in Operation Whitecoat between 1954 and 1973, many of them Seventh-day Adventists like Twombly.

His objections stemmed from his religious beliefs, but duty to his country mattered, too.

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DoD/Glenn Fawcett

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Times Free Press in November 2016 published a story that included information about Vietnam veteran Stephen D. Holloway, who was speaking at a Veterans Day event in Pikeville, Tennessee, and claimed to be the most-decorated veteran of the Vietnam War. Holloway's public claims were challenged by veterans of Vietnam and other conflicts, and the Times Free Press has spent more than a year investigating his military record. To date, Holloway maintains his claims are accurate, though few of his medals and awards have convincing documentation. This is part 1 of a two-day series.

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