Back in January of 2012, we posted a lengthy discussion on the presence, or non-presence of herbicides on commissioned US Navy ships. [Read ‘AO on Navy Ships’] We asked for photographic evidence and we received only one response, apparently showing barrels of Agent White, one of the tactical herbicides widely sprayed in Vietnam. We then posted the photos in a follow-up post. [View the photos in ‘The Exception to the Rule’]
We have been back over the photographs purportedly showing herbicides, particularly the white bands on the barrels laid out on the deck of the USS Ponchatoula AO 148. We have looked closely at discernible shadows and sun angles and come to the conclusion that those barrels that appear to have white bands are, in fact, not painted bands but reflections of direct sunlight on the two wide sections that run around the barrel at 1/3 and 2/3 of their length.
Please notice, on the image above, how the light is reflected on those wide sections. That is what appears as the white bands in the photos from the Ponchatoula. Additional evidence is seen in the number of bands on some barrels. The sun is obviously coming from the right. You can see it in the bottom photo where the shadow of the barrels puts the sun to the right, high and on the other side of the clutch of barrels. Some barrels in the top photo have only one stripe, while others have two. Certainly, in one shipment, all barrels would be marked the same.
That leads us to the conclusion that if herbicides were shipped on commissioned US Navy ships, the incidence of this was so low as to be statistically insignificant. By this we mean that to attempt to use the presence of herbicides on your ship as part of your claim will not only be unsuccessful, but it could also damage the credibility of your claim. In other words, we caution all Blue Water Veterans NOT to use this in their claims, not to use it when contacting your elected officials, and not to write letters to the editor claiming it was carried on board commissioned US Navy ships. You may not care about your credibility, but when a bunch of these letters to the editor start showing up, or Congress starts getting emails, and calls with this claim in them, it affects not only your claim’s credibility, but also the credibility of all other Blue Water Veterans' claims. It may also result in claim delay while the VA attempts to verify and validate your claim of herbicides on your ship.
Do yourself and all of the Blue Water Navy Veterans a favor and simply drop the issue. There is not enough evidence to support it, there is plenty of evidence against it, it will not get you anywhere, and in the end, is a waste of time and effort.
A better use of your time is to pressure Congress to pass HR 543, the Blue Water Navy Agent Orange Act of 2013. The bill now has 92 cosponsors and needs at least 200 more to show significant support. Contact your elected federal officials at their local offices closest to you. And you can always use the Fleet Reserve Association’s Congressional Contact page [click here].
It’s time to stop spinning your wheels on wasted efforts and push for what will be the most attainable success, and that is the passage of HR 543. Put your effort and energy toward that.
”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets
"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Obama Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets
"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln
"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington
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