Received Friday, September 23: FOIA materials from 75th Air Base Wing, Ogden, Utah. I'd asked for all materials related to preparation of the 2010 press release describing the final destruction of the remaining C-123K/UC-123K aircraft at Davis-Monthan.
The press release was prepared to be held in case of media inquiry...not released but ready to hand to any inquisitive reporter. It is not clear that it was ever actually used.
What is outstanding is the obvious issue of Agent Orange and the efforts taken to prevent public awareness of the toxin. These were the "Agent Orange aircraft." These were aircraft that were going to be shredded and smelted, for the first time in AF history, solely because of their contamination by Agent Orange/dioxin. Memo after memo described them as the "Agent Orange aircraft." The contamination of the airplanes was the core of the problem, and the core of the worries expressed by leadership concerned about the public learning about this problem.
But never in the press release are the words "Agent Orange" used! Instead, careful wordsmithing resulted in an innocent-sounding announcement of old airplanes being recycled to make room for more storage....in all the paperwork involving these airplanes the only place "Agent Orange" wasn't mentioned was the final press release! Even their contractor balked at going along with that final description, there being so much open desert at DM and no need to create any free space.
We note the 12 Nov 2009 special letter prepared by Mr. Wm. Boor, 505th ACSS, requesting that "because of the Agent Orange contamination during the Vietnam War", the planes be excluded from resale and salvage operation. Again...the entirety of the problem is Agent Orange! And the entirety of the problem today is the determination of the AF and the VA to avoid recognizing veterans who flew those planes as having been exposed, even though volumes of official documents make it clear we have been exposed to "extremely dangerous, extremely hazardous, extremely contaminated" airplanes!
Perhaps the worst news here is the continued influence of OSD's Agent Orange consultant. Cited throughout the materials is the reference to him as "Senior Consultant to the Office of Secretary of Defense" and other titles, and throughout these papers and all the others we've seen are his recommendations to immediately destroy the remaining C-123K/UC-123K aircraft...he seems to have been one of the key authorities in implementing the final solution, along with MG Busch.
The problem with that is OSD's obvious intense dislike of Reserve Component flyers, whom its' consultant elsewhere described as "freeloading, trash-haulers looking for a sympathetic congressman for tax-free dollars". The consultant, not one of DOD's key supporters of the Total Force Concept, cites in his recommendation for the planes' destruction the fact that the dioxin contamination will result in presumptive connection for Agent Orange VA benefits. Well, Duh!
What's the problem with that? Simply the fact that the veterans were exposed to dioxin on the C-123K/UC-123K three decades earlier! OSD stresses that the aircraft must be destroyed to prevent such claims, yet the veterans have already been exposed! The OSD consultant makes no mention of previous exposure by these individuals other than to remind base officials that such claims for presumptive exposure might surface unless the airplanes were destroyed and somehow the "media storm" over Agent Orange kept from developing.