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Heather A. Bowser Stands Feet Away From Okinawa Grounds In Question November 2013

Heather A. Bowser Stands Feet Away From Okinawa Grounds In Question
November 2013

Nearly 1 month ago, COVVHA Co-Founder, Heather A. Bowser, caused quite a stir after she wrote a “Letter To The Editor” warning parents of dangerous secrets being hidden only feet away from where their children play.  In an article titled “Dioxin Threatening School Grounds” Bowser pieces together the trail of buried lies in this graphic

Today, in a new article by Jon Mitchell, the story continues….

Kadena moms demand truth

by Jon Mitchell

Six months ago, dangerous levels of dioxin were discovered near two U.S. Department of Defense schools on Okinawa Island — but only now are many service members based there learning the full extent of the contamination.

Parents whose children attend the potentially poisoned facilities at Kadena Air Base claim the Pentagon has failed to inform them of the risks or investigate whether the pollution extends onto the school ground. Many are accusing the military authorities of endangering their children’s health and now they have formed a group to demand answers.

The focus of parents’ fears are the playing fields of Bob Hope Primary School and Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, facilities operated by the Department of Defense for the children of U.S. service members.

Last June, construction workers unearthed more than 20 chemical barrels on civilian land bordering the schools.

Following tests the following month, the barrels were found to contain high concentrations of dioxin, a substance that can cause cancer, immune system damage and developmental problems in children. In nearby soil, dioxin levels measured 8.4 times the legal limit, while water peaked at 280 times the level considered safe. The land had once belonged to the adjacent air base but was returned to civilian use in 1987.

“Knowing that the base has probably been aware of this situation for many months, I feel very angry. I cannot imagine what could justify their decision to withhold this information from us parents. I believe they were morally and ethically obliged to warn us of the possible threat to our children,” Jannine Myers, the mother of a 10-year old girl attending Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, told The Japan Times.

Myers first heard about the contamination after reading a letter that was published in The Japan Times on Dec. 24 titled “Demand answers about dioxin threat at Okinawa schools.” ( )

Angered by the authorities’ failure to notify parents and local residents about the possible dangers, Myers created a Facebook group on Jan. 10 named “Bob Hope/AEIS — Protect Our Kids,” in the hopes of persuading base officials to hold a public meeting and explain what action has been taken.

The group currently has more than 130 members with more parents joining everyday.

“If there is a dioxin threat at the schools, it will take an enormous amount of public pressure to a) have the U.S. authorities admit that they are responsible, and b), cause them to clean up this mess and protect our children,” Myers said.

Correspondence between Kadena Air Base officials and the Okinawa Defense Bureau reveals the U.S. authorities were aware of the proximity of the school fields to the chemical dumpsite as early as June.

Documents obtained by The Japan Times detail the bureau’s inquiries to the base immediately following the discovery of the barrels.

In response to these questions into past usage of the land, Kadena officials replied, “Starting in 1980, the area adjacent to the site was used as baseball fields and playgrounds for a nearby elementary school on Kadena Air Base.”

On Tuesday, in response to questions from The Japan Times about whether teachers and parents had been informed of the potential dangers, David Honchul, U.S. Forces Japan director of public affairs, appeared to contradict parents’ claims that they had not been notified. “There have been notices about the excavated drums and leadership at Kadena Air Base have been tracking the issue very closely,” he said by email.

Honchul also sought to reassure worried parents. “Kadena leadership and USFJ will take appropriate measures in accordance with DOD policy should we become aware of any potential substantial impact to human health and safety,” he wrote.

But it seems for many parents, this is too little, too late.

“The moment the knowledge of the barrels being uncovered and the potential for any dioxins to be found were known, every parent of the schools, and every person on Kadena should have been notified. I feel outraged,” Tina Eaton told The Japan Times. Eaton, who often takes her 3-year-old daughter to play on the schools’ fields, worries about the health effects of possible dioxin exposure on her child.

Meanwhile, on the civilian side of the wire, Japanese authorities are continuing to examine the land for further contamination.

Recently they discovered seven more barrels but they have not yet been unearthed. Unlike the nearby on-base land where American children are still allowed to play, the civilian side remains strictly cordoned off to prevent public access.

Among the barrels initially unearthed last June were some marked with the logo of the Dow Chemical Company, one of the leading manufacturers of military defoliants — including Agent Orange — during the Vietnam War. Tests on the barrels revealed the presence of two of Agent Orange’s telltale ingredients: the herbicide 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4,5-T), and 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodiben-zop-dioxin (TCDD), the most lethal form of dioxin.

Commenting on the results, Katsuhisa Honda, the Ehime University scientist in charge of the study, likened the land to contaminated fields in Vietnam where the Pentagon sprayed millions of liters of Agent Orange in the 1960s.

Despite U.S. military records related to Agent Orange cataloguing a herbicide stockpile at Kadena in 1971, the Pentagon has repeatedly denied it stored such substances on Okinawa Island.

This is not the first time that Kadena Air Base schools have been the focus of public concern.

In 1983, a large quantity of live ammunition was discovered buried beneath the playground of Bob Hope Elementary School.

Recently, a number of high profile environmental concerns have come to light in Okinawa.

Last week, Kyodo published U.S. documents showing the Pentagon conducted dozens of biological weapons tests on the island between 1961 and 1962. Last summer, The Japan Times reported allegations from former U.S. service members that several tons of nerve gas were dumped off the island’s coast in 1969.

Under the current U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, the Pentagon is absolved of all responsibility for environmental damage caused by its bases. However, in December, Washington announced that it would soon negotiate a new Environmental Stewardship Pact with Japan to supplement the current SOFA.

The Pentagon claimed the deal will improve environmental standards on its installations, but skeptics dismissed it as an attempt to placate Okinawans’ anger over plans to build a massive new military complex in the city of Nago.

However, it seems concerns over military pollution at Kadena Air Base has united many on both sides of the fence.

“We need to find out if our kids are at risk. That is the least the U.S. government/military owes us — and owes the people of Okinawa. They do not deserve this lethargic attitude on such a potentially devastating discovery, and neither do we,” Eaton said.

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Agent Orange

(C) Heather A. Bowser

(C) Heather A. Bowser

To the teachers and parents of children attending Bob Hope Primary School and Amelia Earhart Intermediate School, Kadena Air Base, Okinawa:

My name is Heather Bowser and I am the cofounder and national coordinator of the Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Okinawa City where, in June, barrels of an unknown substance were uncovered near your children’s playground.

Have you heard of the discovery? More than 20 chemical drums were found buried on the other side of the fence just past one of your jungle gyms.

Standing near the blue tarps covering the hole from where the barrels were exhumed, my heart ached when I realized its proximity to your schools. I am begging you to demand a full investigation into the toxicity of the land where the schools are built.

There has been lots of speculation about what the barrels once contained. The words “Agent Orange” have even been used. But regardless of what the material in the barrels was, there has been confirmation of TCDD dioxin — independent tests confirmed that the level in nearby water was 840 times safe limits. Have you been told this industrial byproduct has been found less than a football field away from where your children play at recess?

The possible contamination of the ground surrounding your kids’ schools should not be ignored.

In lab tests on animals, dioxin has caused a wide variety of diseases, many of them fatal. Dioxin is not found in nature, but it’s a man-made byproduct of the chemical manufacturing process. Most notably, Agent Orange used in Vietnam was later found to be heavily contaminated with dioxin.

Dioxin is what is responsible for sickening and killing our U.S. Vietnam veterans, Australian Vietnam veterans and of course the Vietnamese. The illnesses presumed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to be caused by exposure to dioxin include chronic B-cell leukemias, diabetes mellitus type 2, multiple myeloma, Parkinson’s disease, prostate cancer and respiratory cancers — including lung cancer.

Do you know any children already suffering from these illnesses at a really young age? Dioxin exposure could be to blame.

If your children are boys and they have been exposed to dioxin, they have a higher likelihood of having children with neural tube defects like spina bifida. Your future grandchildren do not deserve to carry the burden of negligence. They did not enlist.

Children of Vietnam Veterans has a long history of dealing with our families’ exposure to dioxin. The dioxin they were exposed to was in the chemical herbicides sprayed in Vietnam from 1961 to 1971. We are a group of 20-45-year-olds, many of whom have lost their fathers to illnesses caused by exposure to dioxin.

We have been born with many birth defects and illnesses the government is still ignoring. My mother suffered two miscarriages, and in 1972 I was born two months premature, weighing only 3 lb, 4 oz [1.5 kg]. I was missing my right leg below the knee, several of my fingers, my big toe on my left foot, and my remaining toes were webbed. There was absolutely no history of miscarriages or birth defects in either family. This could be what your children may face when they start their own families.

By age 38, my dad had had five heart bypasses; at 40, he developed diabetes; at 48, he had a stroke; aged 50, he died of a massive heart attack, leaving my mother a young widow.

We do not want anyone to suffer what we as children of Vietnam veterans have gone through, and that is why we are speaking out. We are innocent victims, and our government turns a blind eye to our birth defects.

We are dying; our fathers are dying or have died. Do not allow your family to be added to our dioxin genocide.

Your family deserves to know the truth about possible contamination. If your children have been exposed, they deserve justice and immediate health treatment.

Please research the contamination at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. An investigation found contamination spanned three decades — 30 years of drinking contaminated water.

What are officials doing to ensure your children are not exposed to potential contamination at Bob Hope Primary School and Amelia Earhart Intermediate School? Demand school officials close the playground until the soil can be tested and remediation undertaken if necessary.

Educate yourself on dioxin exposure. Don’t let your children and grandchildren carry this burden.

Canfield, Ohio

(C) Heather A Bowser


© 2013 (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC. All rights reserved.

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Agent Orange – Okinawa


Workers examine barrels unearthed from the site of a former U.S. military base in Okinawa, in this July 2, 2013 file photo. (Photo courtesy of Ryukyu Shimpo)

OKINAWA — An environmentalist here has voiced concerns that a controversial state secrets bill might enable the government to hide the truth behind environmental pollution, such as highly toxic dioxins at the site of a former United States military base in Okinawa that may have originated from Agent Orange defoliant.

“When land is returned, will information on pollution be designated a secret because it ‘deals with diplomacy or defense?’ If that happens, even though pollution affects the health of people and the environment, we won’t be able to look into the issue,” warns Masami Kawamura, director of the Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity in Okinawa, which has investigated the existence of Agent Orange in Okinawa.

The dioxins were found in barrels unearthed from a soccer field here on property that was formerly part of the U.S. military’s Kadena base. The base land was returned to Japan in 1987. All the turf on the field has now been removed. A woman who was cleaning a park nearby noted that the field was often used for matches.

“It’s worrying because there were many children there,” she said.

The barrels were uncovered when field’s turf was being relayed on June 13. The barrels bore the name of the Dow Chemical Company, which made Agent Orange used in the Vietnam War. A total of 26 barrels have been uncovered. Agent Orange is said to have caused many deformities in children born in areas where it was used. The defoliant’s dioxins are considered to be the main cause.

According to the Okinawa Defense Bureau, the land where the barrels were found was created by filling in a valley, and the barrels may have been dumped there before the work commenced.

Both the bureau and the Okinawa Municipal Government investigated the barrels and found dioxin levels in excess of the national environmental limit. However, while the city government listed Agent Orange as a possible cause of the dioxins, the defense bureau was more reserved, saying that the dioxins could have come from weed killers.

While former U.S. soldiers and others have said in the past that Agent Orange was brought onto Okinawan soil, neither the U.S. nor Japanese governments have acknowledged it.

“It is revolutionary that the city conducted its own investigation at a time when the national government was possibly trying to play down the situation,” says Kawamura.

Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera visited the field in September and said to Okinawa Mayor Mitsuko Tomon, “We’d like to return the land to its former state in a transparent manner.” The Defense Ministry began magnetic surveying and other follow-up investigations of the site, while the Okinawa Municipal Government plans further investigations of its own.

In the meantime, Kawamura is worried where the special state secrets protection bill is headed. The bill lists four areas in which documents can be designated secret: defense, diplomacy, prevention of specific damaging activities (espionage, etc.), and prevention of terrorism.

In April, the Abe administration reached an agreement with the United States on the return of six U.S. military facilities and areas south of Kadena Air Base. However, the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement exempts the U.S. from any responsibility to restore returned land to its former state or to pay money for doing so. Japan pays for pollution removal and other such costs.

Daisuke Misawa, head of the Okinawa Defense Bureau section handing the U.S. return of land to Japan, says, “We are not planning on making such reports secret,” but Kawamura remains unsettled.

“I don’t want to oppose the central government, but I want information to be shared so we can move in the right direction, and I think the special state secrets protection bill discourages that,” says Kawamura.

November 23, 2013(Mainichi Japan)

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Agent Orange

Agent Orange In Grandchildren of Vietnam Veterans

We have compiled a list of 162 reported illnesses that the biological Grand-Children of Vietnam Veterans are suffering from to try and find common threads. There have been no official claims that anything on this list has been proven to be caused by Agent Orange/Dioxin unless otherwise noted in the information below. If your child is suffering from any illness not listed, please email us at COVVHA@GMAIL.COM This list has been updated as of October 1, 2013.

Please click on the page NEWS ALERTS” to become an email subscriber. You will then receive notifications when databases for 2ND GENERATION, 3RD GENERATION, and VETERANS HEALTH have been updated as well as any new articles that are published. Please be sure to check your email after subscribing for your confirmation completion.

1. 16p deletion in DNA:
2. Abdominal Migraines
3. Abdominal Scar Tissue Growth
4. Alopecia Universalis
5. Allergies- Food, Milk, Meds, Gluten, Seasonal, Severe, ETC
6. Allergic Rhinitis AKA Hay Fever
7. Amblyopia AKA Lazy Eye
8. Anal Fistula
9. Anemia
10. Anencephaly
11. Anger Problems
12. Anxiety
13. Apraxia of Limb
14. Apraxia of Speech
15. Arthritis
16. Asperger’s Syndrome
17. Asthma
18. Attention Deficit Disorder
19. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
20. Atypical Tuberculosis (Not Regular Tuberculosis)
21. Auditory Processing Disorder
22. Autism Spectrum Disorder
23. Autoimmune Problems
24. Beckwith–Weidemann Syndrome
25. Bedwetting
26. Bicuspid Aortic Stenosis
27. Bilateral Retinoblastoma
28. Bipolar Disorder AKA Bipolar Affective Disorder, Manic-Depressive Disorder, or Manic Depression
29. Blood Clotting Issues
30. Borderline Personality Disorder
31. Born with One Kidney
32. Bowel Obstruction
33. Celiac Disease
34. Cellulitis
35. Chest Pain: Undefined
36. (Chronic) Bronchitis
37. Chronic Ear Infections
38. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
39. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease AKA Emphysema
40. Cleft Palate
41. Clubbed Thumb
42. Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (CTEV) AKA Club Foot
43. Congenital Hypothyroidism
44. Constipation AKA Costiveness AKA Dyschezia AKA Trouble moving Bowels
45. Crohn’s Disease AKA Crohn’s Syndrome AKA Regional Enteritis
46. Cystic Hygroma
47. Cysts
48. Deafness
49. Deformed Baby Teeth
50. Depression
51. Developmental Delay
52. Dual AV Node In Heart
53. Dyslexia
54. Eczema
55. Edwards Syndrome
56. Ehler’s- Danlos Syndrome AKA Cutis Hyperelastica
57. Emotional Problems
58. Endometriosis
59. Enlarged Adenoids
60. Enlarged Tonsils
61. Failure to Thrive (Difficulty Gaining Weight)
62. Fibromyalgia
63. Fine Motor Aphasia
64. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
65. Gross Motor Aphasia
66. Headaches
67. Hearing Aids (Both Ears)
68. Hearing Loss
69. Heart Murmur
70. High Blood Pressure AKA Hypertension
71. High Cholesterol AKA Hypercholesterolemia
72. Hip Dysplasia
73. Hirsutism AKA Frasonism (Female facial hair)
74. Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
75. Hole in Heart
76. Holoprosencephaly (Lobar)
77. Hydrocephalus
78. Hydronephrosis AKA Enlarged Kidney
79. Hyperflexability in the Joints AKA Hypermobility in the Joints
80. Hypospadias
81. Hypovitaminosis D AKA Vitamin D Deficiency
82. Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura (ITP)
83. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
84. Insomnia AKA Trouble Sleeping AKA Sleeplessness
85. Idiopathic Thrombocytic Purpura (ITP)
86. Keratosis Pilaris (KP) AKA Chicken Skin
87. Kidney Problems
88. Kyphosis
89. Learning Disability, Non Specific
90. Leg and Hip Problems at Birth
91. Low Birth Weight
92. Lupus AKA Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
93. Metabolic Syndrome
94. Migraines
95. Minimal Separation of Left Renal Collecting System
96. Missing Teeth
97. Moody
98. Neural Tube Defects
99. Night Terrors
100. Nosebleeds AKA Epistaxis
101. Obesity
102. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
103. One Testicle That is Smaller Than the Other One
104. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
105. Osteoporosis
106. Overall Weak Immune System
107. Past Urinary Problems
108. Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) (Form of Autism)
109. Peeling Finger/ Toe Nails
110. Pericardial Cyst On Heart
111. Photosensitivity
112. Pica
113. Plagiocephaly
114. Poland Syndrome, Undiagnosed
115. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
116. Poor Hand/Eye Coordination
117. Potty Training Problems
118. Premature Birth
119. Primary Teeth Retention- Causes Crooked and Crowded Teeth
120. Prone to Vericocele/ Hydracele
121. Prune Belly Syndrome
122. Psoriasis
123. Pulmonary Stenosis
124. Pyloric Stenosis
125. Radial Dysphasia of the Wrist
126. Reflex Neurovascular Dystrophy
127. Retinoblastoma AKA Cancer of the Retina
128. Ruptured Ear Drums
129. Scoliosis
130. Seizures
131. Sensitive Skin
132. Sensory Processing Disorder/ Dysfunction of Sensory Integration
133. Severe Colic
134. Sickle Cell Anemia
135. Sinusitis
136. Skin Problems
137. Sleep Apnea
138. Snoring
139. Social Anxiety Disorder
140. Speech Disorder, Articulation
141. Spinal Muscular Atrophy
142. Spine is Blunt at the Bottom
143. Stickler Syndrome
144. Stomach Pain: Undefined
145. Teeth Growing in Crooked
146. Thoracic Kyphosis
147. Tibial Torsion
148. Ticks
149. Torticollis AKA Wry Neck
150. Tourette’s Syndrome
151. Two Uteruses
152. Type One Diabetes
153. Umbilical Hernia (At Birth)
154. Urinary Tract Infection AKA Bladder Infections
155. Vacterl Syndrome (Born without an Anus)
156. Ventricular Septial Defect
157. Viral Meningitis
158. Von Willebrand Disease
159. Warts
160. Weak Baby Teeth
161. Weak Enamel In/On Teeth
162. Weird Skin Rashes

 © (COVVHA) Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance INC

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Agent Orange Okinawa


‘Were we marines used as guinea pigs on Okinawa?’
Growing evidence suggests that the U.S. military tested biochemical agents on its own forces on the island in the 1960s
Special to The Japan Times

Newly discovered documents reveal that 50 years ago this week, the Pentagon dispatched a chemical weapons platoon to Okinawa under the auspices of its infamous Project 112. Described by the U.S. Department of Defense as “biological and chemical warfare vulnerability tests,” the highly classified program subjected thousands of unwitting American service members around the globe to substances including sarin and VX nerve gases between 1962 and 1974.

According to papers obtained from the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the 267th Chemical Platoon was activated on Okinawa on Dec. 1, 1962, with “the mission of operation of Site 2, DOD (Department of Defense) Project 112.” Before coming to Okinawa, the 36-member platoon had received training at Denver’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal, one of the key U.S. chemical and biological weapons (CBW) facilities. Upon its arrival on the island, the platoon was billeted just north of Okinawa City at Chibana — the site of a poison gas leak seven years later. Between December 1962 and August 1965, the 267th platoon received three classified shipments — codenamed YBA, YBB and YBF — believed to include sarin and mustard gas.

For decades, the Pentagon denied the existence of Project 112. Only in 2000 did the department finally admit to having exposed its own service members to CBW tests, which it claimed were designed to enable the U.S. to better plan for potential attacks on its troops. In response to mounting evidence of serious health problems among a number of veterans subjected to these experiments, Congress forced the Pentagon in 2003 to create a list of service members exposed during Project 112. While the Department of Defense acknowledges it conducted the tests in Hawaii, Panama and aboard ships in the Pacific Ocean, this is the first time that Okinawa — then under U.S. jurisdiction — has been implicated in the project.

Corroborating suspicions that Project 112 tests were conducted on Okinawa is the inclusion on the Pentagon’s list of at least one U.S. veteran exposed on the island. “Sprayed from numbered containers” reads the Project 112 file on former marine Don Heathcote. Heathcote, a private first class stationed on Okinawa’s Camp Hansen in 1962, clearly remembers the circumstances in which he was exposed.

Throughout the late 20th century, rumors of Project 112 were widespread among U.S. veterans, but they were quickly dismissed by an American public unwilling to believe its government would test such substances on its own troops. However, following a series of TV news reports by CBS, the Pentagon admitted to the existence of Project 112 and promised to come clean on the issue.In 1961, as the Cold War deepened, the U.S. initiated a comprehensive overhaul of its defensive capabilities in more than 100 different categories; No. 112 on this list was the study of CBW. Envisaged by President John F. Kennedy’s secretary of defense, Robert McNamara, as “an alternative to nuclear weapons,” Project 112 proposed experiments in “tropical climates” and, to evade laws regulating human testing in the U.S., it suggested the use of overseas “satellite sites.” Fulfilling both prerequisites, Okinawa must have seemed a perfect choice.

That disclosure began in 2000, when the Pentagon claimed that there had been 134 planned tests, of which 84 had been canceled. The experiments it admitted carrying out included the spraying of troops in Hawaii with E. coli, subjecting sailors to swarms of specially bred mosquitoes, and exposing troops in Alaska to VX gas. The Pentagon stated that no participants had been harmed in these tests.

Throughout the Cold War until 1969, Washington adhered to a strict policy of neither confirming nor denying the presence of CBW on Okinawa. In all likelihood, it would have continued to do so, were it not for the events of July 8 of that year. On that day, American service members were conducting maintenance on munition shells at the Chibana depot when one of the missiles sprung a leak. Twenty-three troops and one civilian fell sick from exposure to the missile’s contents — likely VX gas — and were hospitalized for up to a week.

Considering the toxicity of such weapons, those exposed escaped lightly. Nevertheless, when the accident was reported, its ramifications were far-reaching: The Pentagon was forced to acknowledge its chemical arsenal on Okinawa — infuriating local residents — and promised to remove the entire stockpile before the island’s reversion to Japanese control in 1972.

News photo
Proof of Project 112 on Okinawa?: An excerpt from the history of the 267th Chemical Platoon.

Operation Red Hat, the mission to transport the weapons off the island, was organized by the same man who had brought them to Okinawa two decades previously: John. J. Hayes (by then a general). It also involved the 267th Chemical Platoon, which had been renamed the 267th Chemical Company. During two separate phases in 1971, the military shipped thousands of truckloads of sarin, mustard gas, VX and skin-blistering agents from Okinawa to U.S.-administered Johnston Island in the middle of the Pacific. The consignments totaled 12,000 tons — a terrifying amount considering that many of these substances’ fatal dosage is measured in milligrams. After the final shipment had left the island, Hayes assured journalists, “Every round of toxic chemical munitions stored on Okinawa has now been removed.”

This year marks 60 years since the first delivery of chemical weapons to Okinawa; this week is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Project 112 on the island. However, the continuing illnesses suffered by U.S. veterans including Heathcote and Mohler suggest this problem is far from a purely historical matter — and only now are potential correlations between toxic munitions and illnesses among Okinawan residents coming to light.

In the near future, Washington plans to return a number of U.S. installations on Okinawa to civilian usage. However, just as former U.S. CBW storage sites elsewhere — such as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and Johnston Island — remain dangerously contaminated, Okinawan land is likely to be handed back in a similarly toxic state.

Under the current U.S.-Japan Status of Forces Agreement, the host government is solely responsible for the cleanup of former bases — a task that’s expected to set Japanese taxpayers back hundreds of millions of dollars. With the true cost in terms of health and capital yet to be determined, there is a real risk that these weapons of mass destruction will poison not only the soil but also American-Japanese-Okinawan relations for decades to come.

In November, Japan’s Association of Commercial Broadcasters awarded the TV documentary “Defoliated Island” a commendation for excellence. The program was based on Jon Mitchell’s articles for The Japan Times investigating the U.S. military’s usage of Agent Orange on Okinawa during the Vietnam War. Send comments on this issue and story ideas to
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012
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Agent Orange Birth Defects

children of vietnam veterans agent orange

Okinawa bacteria’ toxic legacy crosses continents, spans generations | The Japan Times.
JUN 4, 2013
[Warning: Some may find this story’s content and images to be disturbing.]

Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City houses one of Vietnam’s busiest maternity clinics, but hidden in a quiet corner, far from the wards of proud new mothers, is a room stacked floor to ceiling with every parent’s nightmare. In dozens of glass jars lie the bodies of deformed babies preserved in formaldehyde — some have no heads, others have two, several are so scrambled that their faces jut from their stomachs and their arms are where their legs should be.

The doctor who delivered many of these children was Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong. Forty-five years ago she was a young intern at Tu Du Hospital when the city was known as Saigon, capital of war-torn South Vietnam.

“In 1966 or 1967 I started noticing an unprecedented increase in the number of birth defects at the hospital. There were too many deformed babies to count. They were born in areas sprayed with defoliants by the U.S. military,” she told The Japan Times.

During the Vietnam War, the Pentagon drenched South Vietnam with 76 million liters of herbicides — including Agents Blue, White and Orange — in a bid to destroy its enemies’ crops and jungle hiding places. The U.S. government assured Vietnamese people and their own troops that these “rainbow herbicides” were perfectly harmless to human health. But it was lying.

Agent Blue, the Pentagon’s preferred chemical for killing rice crops, included a poisonous compound of arsenic. Among the ingredients of Agent White were the carcinogens hexachlorobenzene and a cocktail of nitrosamines. Agent Orange, the best known and most commonly used herbicide, contained dioxin. Categorized as one of the deadliest poisons on the planet, dioxin has a lethal dose measured in the millionths of grams; it is also teratogenic, meaning it can damage the growth of the fetus.

Dr. Phuong was one of the first doctors to link South Vietnam’s soaring number of birth defects to the U.S. military’s defoliation campaign. But even when the herbicide flights ended in 1971, the health problems continued to grow.

“For example, those who were directly sprayed by Agent Orange passed the dioxin to their children in their breast milk. Then the problems were passed from the second to the third generation through damage to the cells and the DNA,” Phuong explained.

These second- and third-generation victims of Agent Orange suffer from illnesses ranging from cancers and diabetes to autoimmune disorders. Maj. Gen. Tran Ngoc Tho, chairman of the Ho Chin Minh City branch of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, explained that 3 million people are currently suffering from the effects of herbicides in Vietnam — and the numbers are rising every year.

However, according to Tho, when these birth problems first began to emerge in the late-1960s, the government of South Vietnam had a special name for the source of this scourge.

“They called it ‘Okinawa bacteria.’ During the war, Okinawa had many U.S. Air Force bases, and American planes came from there to bomb South Vietnam. There were stories that the planes that used to spray these chemicals came from Okinawa, too.”

From 1945 to 1972, Okinawa was under U.S. jurisdiction, and during the Vietnam War the island served as the Pentagon’s forward staging post for the conflict. Used to train troops, store supplies and ship them to the war zone, Okinawa also hosted the more clandestine side of the American war machine, including at one point as many as 1,200 nuclear warheads, as well as a massive arsenal of nerve and mustard gas.

Given the presence of these weapons of mass destruction, the storage of rainbow herbicides on Okinawa should come as no surprise. Dozens of U.S. veterans and Okinawa base workers claim these substances were warehoused on the island and sprayed around the bases’ fences to keep back the vegetation, a practice also common in South Vietnam at the time. Although the Pentagon denies such allegations, many of these former service members have illnesses consistent with dioxin exposure. Moreover, their children — and grandchildren — are sick, too.

One of these veterans is Rick Dewess. A former U.S. marine stationed on Okinawa between 1969 and 1970, he currently suffers from multiple illnesses — including diabetes, ischemic heart disease and respiratory problems — that he blames on dioxin poisoning. He believes his exposure has also damaged the health of his children.

“Our first child was a miscarriage. Then our next try, a son, had a kidney removed and needed another two surgeries by the time he was 5 years old. My second son had problems with his spine and my daughter has thyroid issues,” Dewess told The Japan Times.

Neither he nor his wife has any family history of the medical issues his children have been diagnosed with.

Dewess believes his exposure to dioxin occurred at Naha Military Port, where he was assigned to off-load equipment damaged during combat in Vietnam. He worries that this work put him in contact with dioxin-contaminated soil. Such fears were supported by a 2008 ruling from the Department of Veterans Affairs — the federal agency responsible for awarding compensation to sick service members — which recognized that another former G.I. on Okinawa had been exposed to rainbow herbicides while handling contaminated gear in the same circumstances.

A second marine veteran alleging dioxin exposure — and consequent damage to her children’s health — was Caethe Goetz. Featured in The Japan Times in August 2011, Goetz had developed multiple myeloma — a rare form of cancer usually found in men in their sixties and seventies — when she was 49 years old. She passed away in November 2012 at the age of 58.

During her service on Okinawa, Goetz was pregnant and often used to take walks near the perimeter fence of Camp Foster. She recalled walking through foliage that had recently been treated with herbicides and, on one occasion, even being sprayed in the face. “I didn’t think much of it at the time — I just wiped the liquid away,” she said in an interview shortly before her death.

As with the other veterans claiming dioxin exposure on Okinawa, the Pentagon denied that the substance Goetz was exposed to was one of the rainbow herbicides. But in a recent interview, marine Sgt. David Robinson, a member of one of Camp Foster’s maintenance crews, seemed to confirm Goetz’s suspicions. “I sprayed the base perimeter. When filling up my fogger [a handheld spray machine], a barrel with an orange stripe was in the stand. I asked the sergeant in charge what it was, and he said, ‘Agent Orange.’ ”

Antonia, the child Goetz was carrying on Okinawa, was born with a number of problems.

“I have deformed knee caps and then, at the age of 32, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The only family history of this illness is my grandfather, who was diagnosed in his sixties,” Antonia told The Japan Times.

Goetz’s second daughter, Catherine, also shows signs of her mother’s suspected dioxin exposure; she suffers from recurring infections, chronic fatigue syndrome, reproductive problems and a fused pelvis.

Antonia explained that these problems are now becoming apparent in the third generation of the Goetz family. Her oldest daughter has a defect with her eyes and was diagnosed with cataracts at the age of 10. Her young son suffers from developmental delays and a congenital problem with an artery in his neck.

Other U.S. veterans who believe they came into contact with rainbow herbicides on Okinawa also have children with similar diseases. Kris Roberts — a New Hampshire state representative who claims he unearthed a large cache of Agent Orange on Futenma air station in 1981 — has a daughter who suffers from health problems he suspects were caused by his exposure to dioxin on Okinawa.

Likewise, Joe Sipala — a former air force sergeant now leading veterans’ demands for an independent inquiry into Agent Orange on Okinawa — has also witnessed the sufferings of his children. While serving at Awase Transmitter Site in 1970, Sipala was tasked with spraying Agent Orange around the installation to kill weeds. As a result of this work, Sipala soon fell sick. His first child died in the womb, so misshapen that the presiding doctor told him he was lucky the baby hadn’t survived. His two surviving children were both born with birth defects — including a daughter whose deformed feet required multiple operations.

Even though the Pentagon kept information about the toxicity of these chemicals hidden, Sipala and many of his fellow veterans feel responsible for their children’s illnesses.

“It makes me feel guilty. At the time we didn’t know the dangers of spraying these herbicides, but it was my damaged DNA that caused my children’s issues,” Sipala said in a recent interview.

According to Heather Bowser, co-founder of Children of Vietnam Veterans’ Health Alliance, such feelings are common among former service members who were unwittingly exposed to poisonous herbicides during the 1960s and ’70s. “I struggled my whole young life watching my father carry the guilt believing he had caused my birth defects,” said Bowser, who was born two months premature and missing her right leg below the knee and several fingers — problems her father attributed to his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.

Bowser said that the scale of the second-generation problems in the U.S. is appalling.

“A 1986 report stated that among 200,000 veterans surveyed, 56,000 of their children had birth defects. But we have no idea how many of them are truly affected, because we have never been offered an open dialogue by the U.S. government,” she said.

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence linking dioxin exposure to birth defects, Washington has been reluctant to support America’s second-generation victims. For example, while offering limited help to the children of female veterans who served in South Vietnam born with defects such as cleft palate, heart disease and clubfoot, it refuses to link their illnesses to Agent Orange; instead, it states that “these diseases are not tied to herbicides, including Agent Orange, or dioxin exposure, but rather to the birth mother’s service in Vietnam.” It is as though the country itself were somehow responsible for children’s birth defects, not the 76 million liters of toxic chemicals sprayed there.

As for the sickened children of male veterans, the U.S. government only recognizes one illness related to Agent Orange: spina bifida.

However, when it comes to Okinawa, the Pentagon’s blanket denials that Agent Orange was ever on the island prevents even this limited assistance reaching the sickened children of U.S. veterans such as Dewess and Sipala.

Goetz’s daughter Catherine believes the motivation for the Pentagon’s denials is simple: money.

“If the U.S. government admitted Agent Orange exposure on Okinawa, it would open a floodgate of claims for many generations to come. Seeing how my mother was treated by her country, I feel the government has dishonored all who served — it should be looking out for the people who defend our nation.”

Back in the country that blamed the birth defects maiming its newborns on “Okinawa bacteria,” Maj. Gen. Tho shares Catherine’s anger with Washington. Since the Vietnam War ended in 1975, the U.S. government has repeatedly denied assistance to Vietnamese people suffering from dioxin exposure. As recently as 2003, the U.S. Embassy in Vietnam accused the Hanoi government of waging a “two-decade-long propaganda campaign” over military herbicides; the following year, the ambassador alleged Vietnamese claims of health damage were based upon “fake science.” Even in 2012, when Washington announced it would clean up its former Agent Orange storage site in Da Nang, it refused to acknowledge any human health problems and instead labeled the project as simply “environmental remediation.”

Although Tho echoed Catherine’s belief that money lies at the root of Washington’s denials, he also suspects another motive.

“If they admitted to the health problems their defoliants caused, they’d be admitting to having waged a campaign of chemical warfare against the people of Vietnam. This would make them liable to be taken to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to be tried as war criminals,” he said.

With the stakes this high, perhaps it is understandable that the U.S. government has attempted to shroud its usage of these poisons within so many denials and lies. But with scientists estimating that serious health problems will persist into the fourth, fifth and possibly sixth generations, the coming decades will see millions more demanding answers about their illnesses — putting Washington under growing pressure to take responsibility for what Dr. Phuong first uncovered at Tu Du Hospital all those years ago.

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Published on Nov 4, 2012
This is the English-language version of Defoliated Island, a Japanese
award-winning documentary about the usage of Agent Orange on Okinawa
during the Vietnam War. Produced by Okinawa TV station, QAB, the show won national acclaim in Japan when it was first aired in May 2012.

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This video explores the perspectives of three generations of Agent Orange survivors offering a rare insight into non-Vietnamese survivors highlighting the global scale of this issue. Additionally, Jon Mitchell, a Welsh born journalist now residing in Yokohama explains his groundbreaking work in helping to uncover the use, storage and burial of Agent Orange on the Japanese islands of Okinawa. Through the video, viewers can see how these inspiring individuals used their time aboard Peace Boat to spread the messages of this issue as well as their time on land in Da Nang, Vietnam; where they were able to visit a support center for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.
Special thanks to
Heather Bowser (Children Of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance), Kenneth H. Young, Jenna Mack, Jon Mitchell
Da Nang Center for Agent Orange and Disadvantaged Children

The lingering effects of Agent Orange from Peace Boat on Vimeo.

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During the Vietnam War, 25,000 barrels of Agent Orange were stored on Okinawa, according to a recently uncovered U.S. army report.1 The barrels, containing over 1.4 million gallons (5.2 million liters) of the toxic defoliant, had been brought to Okinawa from Vietnam before being taken to Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean where the US military incinerated its stocks of Agent Orange in 1977.

The army report is the first time the U.S. military has acknowledged the presence of these poisons on Okinawa – and it contradicts repeated denials from the Pentagon that Agent Orange was ever on the island. At the same time that the document was revealed, a series of photographs was also uncovered apparently showing the 25,000 barrels in storage on Okinawa’s Camp Kinser near Naha City.

The army report, published in 2003, is titled “An Ecological Assessment of Johnston Atoll”. Outlining the military’s efforts to clean up the tiny island that the U.S. used throughout the Cold War to store and dispose of its stockpiles of biochemical weapons, the report states, “In 1972, the U.S. Air Force brought about 25,000 55-gallon (208 liter) drums of the chemical Herbicide Orange (HO) to Johnston Island that originated from Vietnam and was stored on Okinawa.”

Read Full Article —
This is a revised and expanded version of an article that appeared in The Japan Times on August 7, 2012.
Jon Mitchell teaches at Tokyo Institute of Technology and is an Asia-Pacific Journal associate. In September 2012, “Defoliated Island”, a TV documentary based upon his research, was awarded a commendation for excellence by Japan’s National Association of Commercial Broadcasters. An English version of the program is currently in production in order to assist U.S. veterans exposed to military defoliants on Okinawa.  Updates on the issue can be found here – 
1. The full document, “An Ecological Assessment of Johnston Atoll”, can be accessed from the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity homepage here
2. For a concise overview of the campaign to ban Agent Orange see Philip Jones Griffiths, “Agent Orange – ‘Collateral Damage in Viet Nam”,  Trolley Ltd., London, 2003
3. For a more detailed explanation of Operation Red Hat, see: Jon Mitchell, “Military defoliants on Okinawa: Agent Orange”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, September 12, 2011
4. The full text of the V.A. ruling is available here
5. From interviews with author conducted Summer 2012 see also
6. For an account of Okinawan NGO Citizens’ Network for Biodiversity’s June 2012 meeting with Okinawa Prefecture see here
7. See for example Fred Wilcox, Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam, Seven Stories Press, New York, 2011.
8. See Jon Mitchell. “U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon’s Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa,” The Asia- Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 17, No. 2.
9. See for example: Jon Mitchell, ‘Agent Orange on Okinawa – New Evidence,’ The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 48 No
10. See Okinawa NGO discusses with Okinawa Prefecture over Agent Orange:
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As the voice and face of Agent Orange in Canada, Kenneth Young of Emo has travelled the globe bringing awareness to the effects caused by the harmful herbicide and defoliant used by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War from 1961-71.
But the 64-year-old is especially excited to continue his Agent Orange awareness campaign aboard the “Peace Boat,” a Japan-based, international non-governmental and non-profit organization that works to promote peace, human rights, equal and sustainable development, and respect for the environment.view counter

Peace Boat’s 77th Global Voyage for Peace departs next Friday (Aug. 24) from Yokohama, Japan and will travel to Da Nang, Vietnam.
There, Young will meet with Vietnamese survivors of Agent Orange as well as the U.S. ambassador in Vietnam.
“His role is that he is going to be teaching about what happened in Canada at CFB Gagetown,” noted Young’s son, Daniel, who also lives in Emo, adding his father will give a 75-minute lecture to university students aboard the Peace Boat.
“They called him in as an expert on the subject because he’s been an advocate for so many years, researching and getting all the facts on the matter,” Daniel Young said.
“And he’s been disseminating that through the Internet and other means.
“He’s been published probably hundreds of times now. He’s been really focused on this mission to get the information out there.
“He’s excited but a little nervous, too,” admitted Daniel Young, referring to his father’s upcoming presentation.
A Canadian veteran and first generation Agent Orange survivor, Kenneth Young also will be travelling alongside Heather Bowser, a second-generation American Agent Orange survivor, and Jenna Mack, an 18-year-old third-generation American survivor.
Bowser was born with multiple birth defects as a result of her father’s exposure to Agent Orange/dioxin during the Vietnam War while Mack’s mother was born with severe hip dysplasia, suffers from lupus, and also developed an extremely rare form of cancer five years ago.
This is the first documented case of three generations of survivors from the U.S. and Canada travelling to Vietnam to build ties with Vietnamese survivors and to raise awareness of the global scale of the Agent Orange legacy.
Young indicated in an previous interview that Vietnam has suffered the most from the side effects Agent Orange caused, including “birth defects, 15 different types of cancers, diabetes, and destroying the immune system.”
There are an estimated 300,000-500,000 third-generation casualties, some of which Young noticed while in Vietnam last year, where he was a speaker at the Second International Conference of Agent Orange/Dioxin

Continue Reading….

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The fallout from the US military’s use of Agent Orange may have spread from Vietnam to Japan. Massive caches of the toxic herbicide were buried on Futenma, “the world’s most dangerous base,” potentially poisoning the island, a Japanese daily reports.

The US military presence has long been a point of contention for locals on the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, a cluster of islands located some 400 miles south of Japan.

A slew of violent crimes committed over the last 40 years by US servicemen has led 85 per cent of locals to oppose the presence of American bases on Okinawa. However, the military’s most deadly mark on the islands may be a far less visible killer: Agent Orange.

Scores of barrels of the defoliating chemical were clandestinely buried at Futenma Air Base on Okinawa Island following the Vietnam War, the Japan Times reports.

The Pentagon allegedly ignored repeated requests from soldiers serving on the island in the 70s and 80s to safely dispose of a pesticide a million times more toxic than any naturally occurring poison.

In the Summer of 1981, “unacceptably high readings” of chemicals in the wastewater flowing out of the installation prompted Lt. Col. Kris Roberts, the former head of maintenance projects on Futenma, to start digging up the ground near the end of the base’s runway.

“We unearthed over 100 barrels buried in rows. They were rusty and leaking and we could see orange markings around some of their middles,” Roberts, now a state representative in New Hampshire, told the Japan Times in a recent interview.

Agent Orange, the most widely-used of the “Rainbow Herbicides” deployed during the United States’ decade-long herbicidal warfare program in Vietnam, got its moniker from the orange-stripped barrels in which it was shipped. The US used over 76 million liters of defoliants to rob the Vietcong of cover and food.

As Okinawa was a forward staging post for the US military during the war, the base was a likely transit point for the herbicides despite the Pentagon’s insistence to the contrary.

Roberts’ ranking officers tried to hush the find up by having local workers haul off the seeping barrels to an undisclosed location. A typhoon soon flooded the burial site, whereby Roberts and his men jumped down into the toxic cesspool and drained “the contaminated water off the base.”

Since his contact with the chemicals, Roberts has been plagued by a series of life-threatening illnesses, including prostate cancer, precursors of lung cancer, and heart problems. His doctors have no doubt his ailments stem from his exposure to Agent Orange.

Roberts has fought to have the US Marine Corps and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) contact his former crew out of fear they were similarly poisoned, but his appeals have fallen on deaf ears.

Despite the official Pentagon position, in February the Department of Veterans’ Affairs awarded two former service members compensation for exposure to Agent Orange during their deployment on Okinawa at the time.
One of the sick veterans said it was routine to ship goods contaminated with Agent Orange for cleaning as the Vietnam War was winding down.

In fact, between 1962 and 2010, 132 Veterans serving on Okinawa during the Vietnam War era claim to have been exposed to Agent Orange, despite repeated denials from the Pentagon that the defoliant was ever present on the islands.

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A collection of several recent articles in the news relating to Agent Orange and Dioxin

Vietnamese AO victims to get free check-ups in Korea

We thought VA was VA, and it isn’t’Widow reflects on veteran’s illnesses and death

Vietnam Joins Protest Against Dow Chemicals

Phil Kraft: Ongoing service defines Vietnam vet’s patriotism

Guest view: The war that never ends

Vietnamese AO victims association visits Laos

Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association Announces Free Documents Library

Common farm chemical has impact for generations

Agent Orange ‘tested in Okinawa’

U.S. Veteran Exposes Pentagon’s Denials of Agent Orange Use on Okinawa

Writers Center hosts veterans’ poetry project

Veterans for Veterans

Vietnam to use advanced technology to clear dioxin contamination

What new 2,4-D-resistant crops mean – going backwards

Teachers for disabled underpaid, overworked

Vietnam veterans still struggle with service-related health problems

Agent Orange at base in ’80s: U.S. vet Nearby residents of Futenma possibly tainted by leaking barrels

Children in US Warzones


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