Monday, September 30, 2013

Remembering Forgotten Veterans Poisoned by Agent Orange
For this Band of Brothers, the Vietnam War never ended. Forty years after the fighting stopped they continue their struggle to be recognized as part of the unenviable group poisoned by the deadly herbicide Agent Orange.
These men who dedicated years to the U.S. military were stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In the mid-1960s, it was an important stopover on the way to war zones in Southeast Asia. B-52 bombing missions targeting the Viet Cong — with names like Operation Arc Light and Operation Linebacker II — were launched from Andersen. Two years after the conflict, the base became a way-stop for more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees seeking a new life in America.
Andersen AFB was a well-oiled machine, thanks to the dedicated soldiers stationed there. Two of those men — Master Sgt. LeRoy Foster and Sgt. Ralph Stanton — found each other late in life and began to compare their multitude of similar health problems.
Foster served at Andersen from 1968 to 1978 as a fuels specialist assigned to the 43rd Supply Squadron. Part of his duties, he told me, was to get rid of the vegetation and weeds on the base. Foster says Agent Orange — which contains deadly TCDD dioxin — was among the herbicides he regularly mixed and loaded into his 750-gallon, trailer-mounted sprayer. Back then, no one knew how deadly it was.

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