|(L) BEFORE TELLING US OF CONTAMINATION (R) AFTER AF RELEASED THE NEWS|
We were issued regular Nomex flight suits for duty aboard the C-123 between 1972-1982. In 1994 the Air Force learned the former Agent Orange spray airplanes remained contaminated with dioxin since the end of the Vietnam War and return of the airplanes to the US in 1972. Everyone in or near the stored C-123s at Davis-Monthan was ordered to wear full HAZMAT, at this point 23 years AFTER the last Agent Orange spray missions in Vietnam. Now, VA insists that aircrews were unexposed even aboard those contaminated airplanes without wearing PPE. CDC says otherwise: we were exposed, suffered a 200-fold greater cancer risk, and should have been in full HAZMAT protection from the very first flights in 1972.
Full HAZMAT as on the right was the only thing good enough for AF civilian employees. The Air Force Surgeon General was quite clear that the C-123s were dangerous and authorities wanted to protect base workers.
For Air Force personnel, neither the AF nor the VA had the same concern for safety of our pilots, navigators, flight engineers, loadmasters, flight nurses, maintenance personnel and flight medics...green NOMEX flight suits, useless for any protection, were all we had issued us. Money saved, too, by not decontaminating the C-123s even after the 1979 tests started revealing the presence of deadly Agent Orange.
Conclusion: authorities pretend that aircrews were safe for the decade C-123s were flown after Vietnam, but realized that civilian workers, backed by unions which complained via the USAF IG, needed full HAZMAT. Because of the cost of providing medical care to Agent Orange-exposed C-123 veterans, the VA and AF together pretend there was no exposure even in the face of other federal agencies insistence that we WERE exposed. This is wrong!