“Without Okinawa, we cannot carry on the Vietnam war.”
– Admiral Ulysses Sharp, Commander of U.S. Pacific Forces, December 1965.
During the 1960s and ‘70s, the United States military transformed Okinawa into a forward operating base for its war in Vietnam. From mainland American ports, it transported supplies to the island it dubbed its “Keystone of the Pacific” before transferring them into smaller ships for the passage to South East Asia. But there is one vital ingredient of its war machine that the Pentagon denies ever passed through Okinawa – the defoliant, Agent Orange.
Given the fact that the military transported everything else through the island – from tanks and toilet paper to guard dogs and hundreds of thousands of GI’s – such a claim is implausible. Yet as recently as 2004, the US government has asserted that its records “contain no information linking use or storage of Agent Orange or other herbicides in Okinawa.”
Over the past few years, though, the cracks in that denial have started to show. In 2007, it came to light that the Department of Veterans Affairs – the US government body responsible for caring for sick soldiers – awarded compensation to a marine who had developed prostate cancer as a result of his exposure to Agent Orange in the northern jungles of the island. Then in 2009, the same department admitted that “herbicide agents were stored and later disposed in Okinawa” during Operation Red Hat – the 1971 US military project to remove its stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons from Okinawa to Johnston Island.
READ MORE: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/09/30/agent-orange-on-okinawa/