By Barrie Barber - Staff Writer, MORAINE OHIO —
Robert A. Potts most remembers the smell on many of the C-123 cargo planes that had sprayed the defoliant Agent Orange over Vietnam.
Agent Orange legacy
The Air Force deployed C-123 cargo planes to Vietnam to spray the defoliant Agent Orange over forests and jungles in the war in Vietnam. When the aerial spraying program, Operation Ranch Hand, concluded more than 30 of the planes flying spraying missions were sent back to the United States and flown by three Air Force Reserve aeromedical evacuation and cargo hauling units between 1972 to 1982. Some former reservists who never served in Vietnam say they were exposed to Agent Orange residue while working on the planes and flying missions in the U.S.
Veterans who were on land or the inland waterways of Vietnam were presumed to have been exposed to the defoliant and may file for Agent Orange-related compensation benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some C-123 veterans who were reservists in the United States have sought the same benefits from the VA.
According to the VA, exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to certain cancers and other health ailments. They include: AL Amyloidosis, chronic B-cell leukemias, chloracne, diabetes mellitus Type 2, Hodgkin’s disease, ischemic heart disease, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Parkinson’s disease, early on-set of peripheral neuropathy, porphyria cutanea tarda (liver dysfunction characterized by the thinning and blistering of the skin), prostate and respiratory cancers and soft-tissue sarcomas.
SOURCES: U.S. Air Force, Department of Veterans Affairs.