Paper trail: Michelle Gatz holds the logbook of the SS Schuyler Otis Bland, which apparently transported defoliants to Okinawa in the early 1960s. MICHELLE GATZ
By JON MITCHELL
Special to The Japan Times
Recently uncovered documents show that the United States conducted top-secret tests of Agent Orange in Okinawa in 1962, according to a veterans services employee.
The experiments, believed to have taken place under the auspices of Project AGILE — a classified program to research unconventional warfare techniques — have also been confirmed by a former high-ranking American official.
The documents, which include a ship's logbook, army deployment orders and declassified government records, were tracked down by Michelle Gatz, a veterans service officer in Yellow Medicine County, Minnesota.
While assisting a former soldier who claims he was poisoned by these defoliants at military ports in Okinawa in the early 1960s, Gatz pieced together the paper trail of how the chemicals were transported from the U.S. to the island aboard the merchant marine ship SS Schuyler Otis Bland.
"The ship's logbook shows it was carrying classified cargo that was offloaded under armed guard at White Beach (a U.S. Navy port on Okinawa's east coast) on 25 April, 1962," Gatz told The Japan Times.
The Bland was a civilian-owned ship regularly employed by the U.S. Navy to transport defoliants incognito and that was able to bypass customs inspections of military vessels entering foreign ports.
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