According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA), there was no way for dioxin-based herbicide used during the Vietnam War to travel from the land to aircraft carriers offshore. They have directed all claims for such exposure of personnel stationed on the offshore aircraft carriers to be denied service-connected benefits from contamination by dioxin-based herbicide. The only exception is when an individual can prove through documentation having a direct (witnessed and verified) encounter with the herbicide. That exception rarely, if ever, happens because that type of documentation from the period of the Vietnam War either no longer exists or is kept well hidden. Additionally, DVA has stated that no naval ships carried Agent Orange, the dioxin-based herbicide of interest.(1)
Individual Exposure to Dioxin
Thousands of veterans who served offshore Vietnam as Navy, Coast Guard and Fleet Marine (Blue Water Navy) personnel on all types of ships display the exact symptoms of diseases exhibited by veterans who had their "boots-on-ground,"
The probability of that being pure coincidence is Zero. Nowhere else in the world did other human populations break out with or later develop symptoms of these same diseases during that time. A few individuals related to the war effort in locations where Agent Orange was tested or was being actively used or stored came down with the same maladies. But the presence of Agent Orange is the common factor.
This report demonstrates that the herbicide intended to be sprayed on the land mass of South Vietnam travelled out to the Naval ships offshore. In fact, it was 100% probable that dioxin was present aboard the aircraft carriers. Those service members who had boots-on ground are receiving VA benefits because their exposure probability is 100% by presumption. They are receiving their benefits under the rule of presumptive exposure, which only requires their being anywhere on the land mass of Vietnam at any time between January 9, 1962 and May 7, 1975. They are not required to show any proof of herbicide exposure.
However, the presumption of exposure was originally given to all members of the Armed Forces who fought in the Vietnam War, including those who served offshore, under the provisions of the Agent Orange Act of 1991.(2)
The Facts as We Know Them
What this current report clearly shows is that those who served on aircraft carriers were exposed to dioxin-based herbicides brought to the ship via the aircraft and should still be afforded the same presumption of exposure under the same conditions as given to those with boots-on-ground.
There are several basic facts that are currently known about this time period (1962 to 1975) and events that occurred in South Vietnam:
- We know that the phenomenon of "spray drift" occurred, and was often visible as mist clouds of the spray that stayed airborne for relatively long periods of time;(3)
- We know there are reports that the volatilization or vaporization of 2,4,5T (a component of Agent Orange which contained the highest levels of TCDD /Dioxin), was very high whenever it was open to the air;(4)
- We know that large patches of jungle, including areas that had been sprayed with Agent Orange, were burned with incendiary munitions (Napalm) and that the burning carried particulate matter previously saturated with Agent Orange high into the atmosphere;
- We know that heat amplifies the toxicity of dioxin;(5)
- We know that combat aircraft from offshore carriers flew thousands of sorties though the described atmospheric conditions at relatively low altitudes, in humid conditions, during the course of the war when Agent Orange was actively being sprayed (1962-1972) and in the final years to follow (1972-1975). (6)
- We know that the probability of aircraft contamination cannot be Zero and believe it to be 100% based on principles of Newtonian Physics. We are stating that dioxin molecules and aerosols, alone or attached to other particles, stuck to the skin of aircraft because of static charge and were carried back to the aircraft carriers, where they were rubbed into the skin and clothing of the aircraft maintenance deck force and otherwise spread to additional members of the crew by various means, including:
Clothing that shared communal laundry facilities;
Fresh water wash-downs of the airplanes which added the dioxin to mists that were inhaled, absorbed through the skin, otherwise ingested by the crew, or settled onto the deck and superstructure;
Salt water flight deck wash-downs which pushed the residuals of dioxin overboard, only to be sucked up by the intake system for fresh water distillation for that carrier or for any ships following and which made the dioxin airborne once again.
In addition to transport via the static charge attraction to the airplanes, we know that the Agent Orange was mixed at 50%-50% of chemical and fuel oil prior to its being sprayed, and that some of the dioxin stuck to the bodies of the aircraft as did other petrochemicals which the airplane encountered during flight including fluids that leaked and exhaust of other aircraft which they flew in close formations with.(7)
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