Resolution To Designate USAF C-123 K Transport As Agent Orange Exposure Site

MAY 9 – 10, 2012
Resolution No. 20: Designate United States Air Force C-123 K Transport Aircraft as Agent
Orange Exposure Sites
Origin: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission
Submitted by: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Commission
WHEREAS, The American Legion has long been at the forefront of advocacy for veterans exposed to the military herbicides used in Vietnam, as well as those veterans with exposures in locations outside Vietnam itself during and after the Vietnam era; and
WHEREAS, The United States Air Force (USAF) used its fleets of C-123K transport aircraft in more than 9,100 missions, for aerial application of nearly twenty million gallons of toxic herbicides between 1961 and 1971 in Vietnam; and
WHEREAS, The aircraft were returned to the United States for continued use in airlift missions by USAF squadrons at Westover Air Force Base (AFB), Massachusetts, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania and Rickenbacker Air Reserve Base, Ohio between 1972-1982 and were then retired from service and placed in storage; and
WHEREAS, The United States Air Force (USAF) in 1979, in response to the presence of noxious fumes, conducted scientific tests on unit aircraft and identified and determined that significant levels of military herbicides and insecticides used in Vietnam still contaminated the aircraft; and
WHEREAS, Additional tests carried out again in 1994 by USAF Armstrong Laboratories still showed the presence of herbicides, and in particular, the presence of highly toxic Agent Orange contaminant dioxin; and
WHEREAS, The contamination was consideration sufficient by the USAF to require the use of HAZMAT protective equipment when carrying out tests or otherwise entering the aircraft; and
WHEREAS, As late as 2009, further USAF tests conducted at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona demonstrated continued contamination of aircraft; and
WHEREAS, USAF toxicology staff has testified in federal proceedings that toxic levels of contamination due to the herbicides were a danger to public health; and
WHEREAS, The levels observed in the aircraft greatly exceed the Department of Defense’s (DoD) own standards for maximum permissible exposure to any dioxin contaminating interior surfaces; and
WHEREAS, Other federal agencies have reviewed the data and concurred that exposures to personnel at levels exceeding DoD recommendations are likely to have occurred; and
WHEREAS, In response to the State of Arizona and US Environmental Protection Agency environmental concerns, the USAF withdrew the aircraft from commercial resale, quarantined them and, in April 2010, ultimately took extraordinary disposal measures and smelted the remaining fleet; and
WHEREAS, It is estimated that approximately 1,500 service members, including aircrews and maintenance personnel were exposed to military herbicide-contaminated conditions on the C-123 aircraft; and
WHEREAS, Many of these personnel, still surviving, now have health problems commonly associated with herbicide exposure and have endured lengthy legal struggles to prove these problems are service-related; and
WHEREAS, The Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs has statutory responsibility to accurately designate situations and locations that caused veterans to have been exposed to military herbicides used in Vietnam, as well as their contaminants; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, By the National Executive Committee of The American Legion in regular meeting assembled in Indianapolis, Indiana, on May 9-10, 2012, That The American Legion urges the Department of Veterans Affairs to promptly designate the C-123K aircraft, used after the Vietnam War in the United States during 1972 to 1982, as having been Agent Orange exposure sites to permit veterans who were aircrew or maintenance personnel to be eligible for Agent Orange-related benefits.

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