WFLA TV referred to a 2004 report to investors of Dow Chemical, the company that manufactured Agent Orange, which states: “Soldiers stationed on Guam who handled Agent Orange have become ill and symptoms of TCDD (dioxins) are apparent in the general population of the island as well.”
A Florida resident is coming out about the truth of what, he says, happened on Andersen Air Force Base in the 1960s and '70s. Leroy Foster, a Lakeland veteran, did an interview with WFLA TV claiming he sprayed hundreds of thousands of gallons of Agent Orange while stationed at AAFB.
Agent Orange was one of the defoliants – known as “rainbow herbicides” – used by the U.S. military as part of its herbicidal warfare program during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. They were used to destroy bushes, trees and vegetation to deprive insurgents of cover and food crops, as part of a starvation campaign in the early 1950s, according to Post news files.
It was also used to clear the perimeters of military bases to give service members a clear line of fire. The herbicide was known as Agent Orange because of an orange band painted on the drums used to store and transport it.
Officials have consistently denied that the U.S. military used Agent Orange outside of Vietnam. Veterans stationed on Guam, including Foster, have testified in several forums that they sprayed Agent Orange in military facilities and defense properties on Guam including tank farms, a cross-island pipe line, pump houses, hydrant pits and filtering systems at AAFB, files state.
Guam veterans believed they contracted various types of diseases such as respiratory cancers, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease as a result of their exposure to Agent Orange. The Department of Veterans Affairs, on separate occasions, also acknowledged that herbicides, particularly Agent Orange, were used on Guam from 1968 to 1970 and other military installations and facilities outside of Vietnam.
According to the report, Foster, who is sick with multiple cancers and auto-immune diseases, said he bears enormous guilt for exposing other veterans and their families to the herbicide. Foster said he was assigned to vegetation control at AAFB that housed, fueled and armed B-52 bombers for missions over Vietnam in the '60s and '70s.
'Two and three trailer fulls a day'
In the interview, Foster said he sprayed Agent Orange along the flight line, sidewalks, fences, fuel tank farms and barracks, exposing Air Force personnel and their families to the herbicide.
“I was spraying two and three trailer fulls a day,” Foster told the Florida news outlet.
“They told me that I could brush my teeth in it, wouldn’t hurt anybody,” he said.
Foster, like many thousands of other Vietnam veterans, has been plagued with various cancers and diseases that he believes are linked to Agent Orange exposure.
“I’ve got 33 diseases, I had 28 until all the cancers started popping up,” Foster explained
He said he has rectal cancer, colon cancer, thyroid cancer, bladder cancer and prostate cancer. Foster said his own grandchild was born with 24 fingers and toes.
'Symptoms ... in the general population'
WFLA referred to a 2004 report to investors of Dow Chemical, the company that manufactured Agent Orange, which states: “Soldiers stationed on Guam who handled Agent Orange have become ill and symptoms of TCDD (dioxins) are apparent in the general population of the island as well.”
Foster said he felt guilty for all the children who were hurt and the unborn children who died and didn’t have a chance to live.
“I was spraying the most deadliest substance on Earth and I am responsible for it,” he told the Florida news outlet.
“Our veterans, they gave their lives to our country, they don’t deserve to be lied to. If you don’t want to pay for compensation, don’t. But don’t lie to us – did we lie to you?”
In an email to U.S. senators, Foster begged for Guam to immediately be added to the Agent Orange locations list, writing, “I will refuse anymore care and will die if you refuse, sir. I will not live under persecution and denial of the truth of what I did on Guam at Andersen Air Force Base.”