Monday, June 6, 2011

Home / Lifestyles / Health And Fitness / Health Agent Orange haunts Vietnam veterans decades later

Before Dennis Flaherty and his fellow Marines set up a helicopter site in the jungles of Vietnam, a plane spread herbicides on the trees to clear a path.

"Agent Orange was sprayed along the flight lines," explained Flaherty, a 65-year-old veteran from Davenport. "We'd load planes with Agent Orange and other chemicals and then set the barrels down."

The orange-striped barrels that gave the contents their infamous name were later cut up to be used in latrines. Some were even rinsed out and fitted with racks on which to grill hamburgers, he said.

Bill Pinnault, 63, also of Davenport, was in the U.S. Army from 1964 to ‘67 and drove trucks filled with Agent Orange.

"I got orange dust all over me," he said. "I couldn't get away from it."

Denny Gray, 61, of Davenport, was in the U.S. Navy during 1968. He served on the U.S.S. Jamestown, which was permanently stationed in Vietnam. He got to spend a few days onshore in the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon, staying at the Presidential Hotel.

The three Vietnam veterans all are examples of people who developed chronic, debilitating diseases following their military service. Flaherty has Parkinson's disease, and both Pinnault and Gray have type 2 diabetes as well as ischemic heart disease - also called hardening of the arteries.


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