Buried deep within a highly redacted Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the C-123 Veterans Association was a revealing admission from the Air Force Surgeon General: our aircrew and maintainers DID experience Agent Orange exposures, and the exposures were within the range experienced by Operation Ranch Hand veterans from the Vietnam War.
The source was a memo dated April 23, 2012:
Bad enough but that was made worse by the decision not to inform the C-123 veterans of their potentially dangerous exposures from our 1972-1986 duties aboard the airplanes. Such a"heads-up" might have saved lives by alerting our vets to watch for health problems on the VA's list of Agent Orange illnesses.
This USAF Surgeon General's report dismissing veterans' concerns was created about six months after the CDC informed the VA and USAF that C-123 crews had been dangerously exposed, with a 200-fold greater risk of cancers. The USAF Surgeon General's office avoided comment on the CDC report, and did not respond to CDC when asked for further input and consultation.
This whole sad fiasco was a lost opportunity. It came during the years that Dr. Terry Walters (in Veterans Health Administration Public Health Post-Deployment Health) confirmed that she had specifically forbidden C-123 veterans from taking VA's Agent Orange Registry medical exam.
She and her colleagues were at this time redefining their unique and unscientific (according to other Federal health agencies) concept of exposure to prevent veterans' exposure claims. They presented it at the Society of Toxicology conference in September 2012.
This was nearly three years before the VA finally acknowledged C-123 veterans' Agent Orange exposures, five months after the Institute of Medicine's C-123 Agent Orange Report confirmed the exposures.