Agent Orange, the chemical herbicide used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to deforest the land, deprived combatants of food and the ability to conceal themselves.
But as we now know, the toxic chemicals did much more than that. Agent Orange caused devastating health consequences for millions of people — the Vietnamese on the ground and the American troops serving there. In 1979, there was legal action that won a historic settlement.
What's not commonly known is that American civilians working stateside were also exposed to the harsh herbicide. Among them were workers at the Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Radio producer Jon Kalish (@kalishjon) tells their stories in his new documentary, "The Forgotten Civilians of Eglin Air Force Base,” commissioned by Living Downstream. The environmental justice podcast series is from Northern California Public Media. Kalish joins Here & Now’s Robin Young to discuss the documentary.
The workers at Eglin were known as range technicians. Some of them went out and collected cardboard placards that had been sprayed, bringing them back to a lab to be analyzed. Others were cameramen operating massive refrigerator-sized color film cameras. As the cameramen filmed, they were also being sprayed.