A 68-year-old Air Force veteran, now suffering from cancers and auto-immune diseases, said he sprayed “hundreds of thousands of gallons” of the toxic herbicide Agent Orange on Guam while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base in the 1960s and '70s.
Florida’s NBC News Channel 8 aired a news report Jan. 4 in which Leroy Foster, who lives in Lakeland, Florida, said he “bears enormous guilt for exposing other veterans and their families.”
According to the report, Foster was assigned to vegetation control while stationed at Andersen. He said he sprayed “two and three trailer fulls” of the herbicide a day “along the flight line, sidewalks, fences, fuel tank farms and barracks” at the base.
Foster said he was told the chemical was harmless enough “that I could brush my teeth in it, wouldn’t hurt anybody.”
Foster said he now suffers from 33 diseases, including rectal cancer, colon cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer and numerous autoimmune disorders.
The report also stated Foster’s grandchild was born with 24 fingers and toes.
As of 2003, the military hadn't reported using or storing Agent Orange on Guam, Pacific Daily News files show. Veterans of Vietnam may receive benefits based on exposure to Agent Orange, but those who claim exposure on Guam must provide proof of dates and locations of exposure. But because no official verification of the presence of Agent Orange on Guam has been issued, even if veterans can provide dates and locations as evidence, they still may be denied benefits.
For example, in a ruling issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Hartford, Connecticut, on Aug. 12, 2015, one veteran’s Agent Orange claim was denied precisely because he alleged that exposure occurred on Guam, not in Vietnam or Korea: “As he has not asserted, and as the record does not reflect, that he served in the Republic of Vietnam or in Korea during the Vietnam Era, the presumption of herbicide exposure is inapplicable.”