Monday, May 11, 2015

U.S. veteran suspects Agent Orange stored at Futenma air station
Kris Roberts believes his chronic health problems can be traced back to the summer of 1981, when he was a U.S. Marine at the Futenma air station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.
A superior officer ordered Roberts, other Marines and Japanese workers to remove more than 100 steel drums buried near the edge of the runway at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. Liquid spilled from some of the damaged containers, and a recent typhoon had flooded the area near where the men worked. Roberts and his co-workers not only had to remove the drums, but they also went neck-deep in the water.
Roberts served at Futenma from December 1980 to November 1981. After he was transferred to a base in the United States, he developed various symptoms, such as asthma, heart problems and prostate cancer. He retired from the Marines in 2002.
Now 60, Roberts serves as a member of the state House of Representatives in New Hampshire.
In 2009, Roberts asked for compensation for health damage from the Veterans Affairs Department. He said his health problems were likely caused by some chemical he came in contact with at a military base.
Three years ago, a doctor at the Veteran Affairs Department told Roberts he had all the symptoms of someone who has been exposed to Agent Orange.
Roberts believes that the drum containers he helped remove at Futenma contained the defoliant that was used extensively in the Vietnam War.
The U.S. government continues to argue that Agent Orange and other defoliants were never stored, buried or used at Futenma, a major base of operations during the war in Southeast Asia.
Roberts never saw combat in the Vietnam War, so he was initially surprised by the doctor’s assessment. But he began thinking about his experience at Futenma. He had taken a photo of the removal of the steel drums.
“I had that feeling something was seriously wrong,” Roberts said.

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