"The Bomb" defoliant is the only name it had back in late 1966. Working out of LZ Oasis I was assigned one day to crew a bird that was going to spray this stuff. A chopper was rigged with a special tank and hoses. A tank truck was loading it aboard when the hose clamp came off, spraying me from head to toe with this liquid. A 2nd Lt. wearing new stateside fatigues with a chemical BOS said, "Are you a plant?" I responded, "No," so he said then, "Don't worry about it."
Soon the task was complete. We were issued a special gas
mask for flight crews. It had a long tube and a plug in for the intercom so as to be able
to communicate with the pilots. It didn't work, so we had to remove them. The tank had two
hoses coming out the sides with a propeller to atomize the toxic stuff, right below our
feet with no protection--just sit back and breath it all in!
Later, down in Phan Thiet, we had a cook named Cobb, a nice kid form North or South Carolina. He, as others in our company, had to from time to time work as a door gunner when needed. This day he went out to gun on a bird that was spraying Agent Orange over a known VC garden..The VC left a sniper there to protect it. As they approached it, two shots rang out..one hitting the gear box for the tail rotor..the other hitting Cobb square in the chest, knocking him back. The bullet broke up and pieces went into his thigh. The chest protector he was wearing stopped the bullet from penetrating into his chest, saving his life, but I wonder about the chemical he, others and I have inside us. I have been to the V.A. a few times, having those spots on my skin cut out--no claim filed, no admittance by the Government. It's like a time bomb inside, waiting to go off. Are we home yet?
Originally posted on 1st Cavalry Association Guest Book,
July 12, 2003
by, and included here with permission from R. Thom Jefferson.
İR. Thom Jefferson, 2003-2009, All Rights Reserved.