20 January 2013
Patches - Not as Contaminated as Our Other C-123s?
Nope! At least, not according to an experienced Ranch Hand pilot. He informs us that Patches flew only malathion missions after 1965. The other Ranch Hand C-123s flew AO missions up to '71, so Patches, which still tested "heavily contaminated" in 1994 at the USAF Museum (29 years after its last spray missions!), must represent "the lower end of contamination for the UC-123 fleet."Patches...was LESS contaminated! The others, untested, were MORE contaminated!
Dioxin, which Patches sprayed before 1965, has an uncertain half-life on different surfaces and in animals...such as us. It has, for instance, a half-life of about seven years in human females, and some studies maintain that should be 15 years! This means the other former spray planes we flew were more contaminated with dioxin than Tail #362, and had they been properly tested, would have shown their even-higher dangerous dioxin levels. But we only have Patches to go by, because the other airplanes weren't tested for many more years and after decades spent in desert storage at Davis-Monthan. By then, the dioxin had degraded.
In case you diid't note it earlier, we've located a Board of Veterans Appeals decision awarding service connection to a 731st TAS member who worked on Patches at Hanscom in the 72-73 timeframe. This won't help us get our own claims through as the VA seems to deliberately avoid noting virtually parallel decisions, and anyway, VA Compensation Services has directed in more recent years that no C-123 Agent Orange exposure claims be approved, regardless of evidence. The struggle continues!