Two Veterans Claim They Witnessed Spraying Of Agent Orange On Guam

Despite government denials, soldiers claim to have participated in spraying campaign during Vietnam War

By Kyla P Mora

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Feb. 8, 2017) – Two more veterans have come forward, stating they witnessed and participated in spraying what they now believe to be the toxic herbicide Agent Orange while stationed at Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam during the Vietnam War.

Despite veteran accounts, the military has said Agent Orange was not used, stored or moved through Guam during the war.

Bruce Borton's story

Navy veteran Bruce Borton, who was stationed at Naval Facilities Engineering Command on Guam from Feb. 21, 1971 to Dec. 3, 1973, said he personally sprayed an herbicide as part of the Seabee detachment at Ritidian Point.

Borton was enlisted as a Petty Officer 3rd Class. His job title was utilities man 3, which included working in plumbing, A/C repair and general maintenance, he said. Borton also drove a bus to and from Naval Communications Station and Ritidian Point, where he described seeing "the little tractor spraying from the gate into Northwest Field, down to the point."

Borton said usage was widespread on the then-Navy property, and he personally sprayed the jungle with herbicide from a hand-held sprayer.

“One of our tasks was to spray the jungle to keep it back off the road,” Borton said. “Seabees sprayed along the road where the guard shack was, on both sides of the hill, up to where the road flattens out. We also sprayed around the buildings and in the compound under the fuel tanks.”

Seabees refilled portable sprayers by hand from a drum kept in storage, Borton said.

“The chemical we used was stored outside in a 55-gallon drum, away from the compound on the north. There was a field there behind the engine room and shop areas with a high security fence,” Borton said. “The drum was outside the security fence, and surprisingly, we never had to mow that field. We would fill up a can sprayer from the drum that sat upright. I know we spilled the chemical in the dirt there while filling up the spray can.”

Borton now experiences diabetes, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, erectile dysfunction and hearing loss. His two children, born in 1978 and 1979, both have incomplete albinism and ADHD, he said.

Cleveland Walters' story

Air Force veteran Cleveland Walters was stationed for temporary duty at Andersen AFB from July 23 to Dec. 29, 1972. Walters originally deployed with the 96th Bomb Wing, but once on Guam he was assigned to the 43rd Transportation Squadron, as an airman.

Walters’ official job title was supply point for the transportation unit, but he said that, at age 18, “being the youngest in age and rank, you get every doggone detail known to man thrown at you. And when that happens, that goes unknown on your records. This is wartime, and they use you wherever they want to put you, outside of your job title.”

One of those assignments was “helping with those hand spray pumps,” spraying around the fence line, buildings, bath houses, temporary housing in “Tin City” and “Canvas Court,” and on the back side of base roads, he said.

“We did a lot of spraying, trying to get rid of the weeds. It’s unbelievable how quickly the foliage grows back over the roads, probably because it rains there every day,” Walters said. “Then, of course, we had to haul drums from the transportation to the dump.”

Walters described the drums as “rotten” and “rusted,” which made it hard to see any distinguishing colors. However, the drums that weren’t rusted were often used as makeshift barbecue grills.

Florida resident and veteran Leroy Foster is one of the first veterans to report Agent Orange was used on Guam. He said he personally sprayed thousands of gallons of Agent Orange at Andersen Air Force Base, while stationed there with the 43rd Supply Squadron Fuels Division during the Vietnam War.

Walters originally was housed in a tent on the fence of the flight line at Andersen AFB, which Foster described as part of his primary spray route.

From the time he was on base, Walters battled “jungle rot,” or chloracne — rashes and boils around his face and hair line — as well as digestive problems, dizzy spells and blackouts. He sought medical attention for his skin nearly every day, Walters said. Years later, with the help of Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Walters obtained a partial copy of his Guam medical records, supporting his claim.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs presumes cloracne as Agent Orange-related for Vietnam veterans.

Foster also reported experiencing severe chloracne during his time on Guam.

Walters also stated that his two older brothers, who served in Vietnam during Operation Ranch Hand, experienced the same symptoms.

Walters now suffers from hearing loss, severe acid reflux, neuropathy, restless leg syndrome and intermittent tremors, and continued cysts and rashes on his skin. Four of Walters' daughters have asthma and allergies, and one daughter had to have an ovary removed at age 13. Walters’ grandson and granddaughter, he believes, have ADHD, and his granddaughter currently is undergoing medical treatment for abnormal development of her teeth.

Walters said he never discussed his time on Guam with anyone until his birthday in 2010, when he finally caved to pressure from his wife and daughter and started using a computer.

“I never would have put this together. The first thing I did was punch in my unit in Guam. I started reading, and all of a sudden people were talking about their health. I told my wife, 'Everything they’re talking about is what I have',” Walters said. “The skin rashes, the neuropathy, all this stuff. I figured they probably would, because we all lived in those tents.”

Walters is happy about the introduction of the FOSTER Act — named after Foster — which would provide presumptive Agent Orange exposure status to veterans who served on Guam during the Vietnam War.

“They said that those in Vietnam are presumed to have been exposed. Fine, I go along with that. But what about the places that stored it before they even get there? The people who touched it? Somebody had to get it to Vietnam and get it away from there, and it had to stop two places before it even got there,” Walters said.

“I just don’t understand. They know it’s there, why don’t they just turn around and take care of us? As we raised our hands up and were sworn in, they also made the promise that they would take care of us,” he added. “I wish some of those guys in Congress would turn around and just live in my skin right now, and see what I’ve been going through for 40-something years.”

Pacific Daily News
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Comments

This is the GUAM CONTRACTOR THAT DR HADDOCK KNOWS THAT TRANSPORTED AO DRUMS TO ANDERSEN AFB . THEY ARE ALL DEAD FROM CANCERS AND ISCHEMIC.HEART.DISEASE EXCEPT FOR ONE THAT HAD HIS TESTICLES CUTOFF FROM CANCER JUST LIKE THE AIRMAN I REPLACED WHO WENT TO HICKAM AFB TO HAVE HIS NUTS CUTOFF. HE DIED.I have the picture of the contractor now.

I was tdy from Beale AFB, CA. From May 1972 to November 1972. I lived in one of the 8 man tents the entire time I was there. I worked nights in the bomb dump hauling fins from the fin pad to the bomb assembly area. I was wondering if you happened to see the stalk of bananas hanging from a ridge pole during that time. I Have been diagnosed with Diabetes and Parkinsons' Disease. I was also stationed at Utapao RTAFB from December 1967 to May 1968 In the bomb assembly building. Any documentation would be appreciated. Thank you for your service.

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