Department Of Veterans Affairs
Appeals Management Center
1722 Eye Street NW 2-10-2008
Washington, DC 20421
In a letter from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in Washington D. C., they wanted to know how I was exposed to
herbicides. In the following pages I will try to answer this question and put all the pieces of this complicated puzzle
together to produce a picture of what really happened.
I was drafted into the United States Marine Corps in 1968 and spent one year in Vietnam where I was in the
hospital for 31 days. I spent 4 years in the inactive Marine Corps Reserves, then 21 years in the Army National Guard,
10 years in the Retired Reserves and I am presently still in the Retired Reserves.
According to the medical records and hospital summary from Vietnam, I had a headache before I was sent to the
hospital at Da Nang, and they showed 47 days later I stopped complaining about headaches. Their first diagnosis was
serum sickness. The hospital thought it was due to a shot I had recently received. There wasn’t any kind of medicine
they could give, and I should get over it in a few days. I laid in the hospital, unconscious some of the time, with a fever
that stayed between 100 and 104 degrees. Every time my temperature reached 104 they would give me a cold shower
or wash me with ice water and alcohol. After a few days I wasn’t any better and was getting worse, I would even throw
up water every time I took a drink. The hospital was taking blood every day and also did a spinal tap, plus other test.
Nothing showed up, the doctor’s then diagnosed me with fever, unknown origin. On day number sixteen I had a
temperature of 104 degrees; they took my blood but could only get less then one eight of a test tube full, my body
would not give up any more. From day one to day sixteen my fever ranged from 100 to 104, never dropping below 100.
On day sixteen the doctors made a diagnosis of Malaria and started giving me medicine. Before they made the ruling of
malaria the doctors told my superior they didn’t think I would make it. For the next nine days I had a fever that ranged
from 99 to 101 and spent thirty one days in the hospital.
I have never heard of anyone that has had a fever as high as mine, for as long as I had it and survived. I could not
eat anything and would even throw up water. The test they preformed would not reveal what caused the fever. I know
the doctors were trying to find the cause.
The VA in 1970, shortly after my return from Vietnam, did a specialized test to determine residue of serum sickness
and malaria. (Malaria residue stays in a person’s body.) The test said serum sickness not found and malaria not found.
The VA test showed I did not have serum sickness or malaria. I was in the hospital in Vietnam for 31 days for
something! If I didn’t have serum sickness or malaria then that leaves only one diagnosis, fever of unknown origin! The
VA in their rating decision in 1970, had serum sickness, fever of unknown origin and falciparum malaria. If their test
showed no serum sickness or malaria, then the fever of unknown origin has to be service connected. What was this
unknown origin? There is absolutely no way a person can run an extremely high fever, who would even throw up water
for an extremely long period of time, that the doctor’s did not think would survive and not have something major wrong.
If no one knows what the fever of unknown origin was, then how can someone say that the complications my family has
now were not caused by this unknown origin. We have to assume the residue test preformed in 1970 by the VA was
done right and that the doctors in Vietnam done all they could through testing to try to find out what was wrong with me.
The test confirms they didn’t know what caused me to be on the brink of not surviving while in the hospital in Vietnam.
But in 1969 and 1970 there was not any test performed for herbicide exposure.
The VA found scars in my lungs in an x-ray shortly after I returned from Vietnam. The x-ray report states numerous
calcium deposits through out both lung fields, which was consistent to histoplasmosis, but no other test was preformed
to verify this. A report from the VA clinic in Poplar Bluff, MO. shows my lung capacity is 1.4. The avg. for a person that
has never smoked and is in good health is 2.4. This is about 42% less then normal. The report said it was a restrictive
lung disorder. Restrictive lung diseases make it harder for the respiratory system to expand. (Coal dust will also cause
a restrictive lung disease.) These calcium deposits encapsulated the foreign substance in the air sack, rendering them
useless, destroying them, and they can not be restored. According to medical journals, Chest x-rays are helpful, but
your doctor cannot be sure you have histoplasmosis just by looking at an x-ray. Other tests must be performed. These
scars in both lungs came from something in Vietnam and were caused by or part of the unknown origin. I was drafted in
1968 and went through at least four physicals before I started training. The test revealed no problems with my lungs or
any medical problems except my hearing was a slight bit low. I did not have scars in my lungs when I was drafted, but
did when the VA examined me in 1970. These scars had to come from service, and the only time I was sick and in the
hospital was in Vietnam. If these scars were caused by histoplasmosis, then why didn’t the extensive medical testing the
doctors performed show it? I don’t believe there is anyway, that I would have gotten them without being sick.
On October 23, 1969 (I was in 1st hospital company, 1st Marine Division at Da Nang) an urgent message was sent
from Fort Detrick, Maryland, to MACV in Vietnam concerning the cleaning of drums containing herbicides. The
message provided detailed instructions on how to clean the drums, and warned that it was particularly important to
clean Agent Orange drums. Using the drums for storing petroleum products, without thoroughly cleaning them, can
result in the creation of an orange aerosol, when the contaminated petroleum products are consumed in internal
combustion engines. The aerosol thus generated can be most devastating to vegetation in the vicinity of the engines.
In March of 1969 Lt. Col. Jim Corey, Deputy Chief of CORDS in I Corps, reported to his boss R.M. Urquhart, unusual
defoliation in Da Nang. A large number of beautiful shade trees along the streets of Da Nang are dead or dying. This
damage appears to be entirely a result of defoliation chemicals. In every instance of tree and garden plot damage,
empty defoliant barrels are either present or have been transported along the route of the damage.
I was at the Da Nang airbase several times. One of the things that was interesting to me was about every fifteen
minutes a C-123 Fairchild would take off and get up in the air in about a football field length. (These were the spray
planes). I was in Huskie Platoon, 11th Motor transportation battalion at Da Nang. I have cut the tops out of some of the
drums we received from the airbase and poured out the liquid that was left in them beside our shop on the ground. We
would use these drums for trash barrels and fire barrels plus other uses.
Huskies were track vehicles made for going through the rice fields in Vietnam. I was the shop chief and knew the
most about repairing the huskies. Our vehicles were attached mainly to infantry units.
I would travel to every unit, especially the ones in combat operations that our vehicles were attached to. I would check
the vehicles, the welfare of our drivers and repair the Huskies if they broke down during the combat operation. The
infantry would move every three days then search the area. If one of the vehicles broke down during the move, I would
repair it on the spot or have it air lifted out and another brought in. Sometimes I would be sent in a chopper from one
unit to the next to repair a vehicle. When the units were re-supplied they would bring drums of fuel for our vehicles. I
would siphon this fuel out of the drums into our vehicles. Sometimes I would swallow some, not knowing these were
herbicide drums. All our gas, oil and diesel, while in the field, were stored in these drums. Every time I changed oil,
siphoned fuel or washed vehicle parts in diesel, I was exposed to a chemical. Every time I worked on the vehicles I
would smell the fumes coming out of the exhaust to see if the carburetor was adjusted right. The smell from the exhaust
would let me know if the engine was burning too much gas. Just like the urgent message that was sent from Fort
Detrick, Maryland, this exhaust was spraying out aerosol, and I was breathing it down into my lungs. I believe these
particles caused the spots in my lungs.
If we take the medical evidence or medical pieces of the puzzle together with the physical pieces, a picture starts to
emerge. The VA medical evidence shows I did not have serum sickness or malaria.
I did not have scars in my lungs before I went into service, and the only time I was sick and in the hospital was in
Vietnam. No histoplasmosis showed up in any of the extensive blood or other tests performed while in the hospital or
the Marine Corps.
Congress has passed a bill signed by President Clinton that would pay compensation to a child of a Vietnam
veteran, who has open spina bifida. The ruling indicated the herbicide or chemicals was transferred from the veteran
into the child. There are two ways this can happen, one is through body fluids and the second is through the sperm.
The fluid and sperm has to be transferred into the mother. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma has been ruled as caused by
herbicides, also chloracne, peripheral neuropathy, prostrate cancer, cancer of the lungs, and diabetes mellitus. Some
of the recorded complications of herbicide exposure are, : birth defects, elevated blood pressure, anemia, club foot,
abnormal or displaced body parts, gastric hyperplasia, fatigue, weight loss, fever, numbness, dizziness, headaches,
chills, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, personality changes, shortness of breath, rash, and
blurring of vision.
How was this herbicide transferred into the child with spina bifida? I have a son who was born with multiple birth
defects, low birth weight, severe double club feet, bells palsy, arterial septic defect, developmentally delayed, attention
deficit disorder, at age 8 he was diagnosed with having a very severe learning disorder, he has developmental variant
of the first sacral segment, deformed spine, occult neurological problem related to spinal cord development, (Neural
tube defect) back pain every time a weather front comes through, due to the curvature and deformity of his spine and
impaired glucose tolerance, hypoglycemic (which the doctors said would turn into diabetic). When he eats his blood
sugar level will shoot up to more then 250 then his body will kick in and produce too much insulin causing his blood
sugar to bottom out. His spinal cord development problem I believe was on the verge of being spina bifida. Now his
mother has come down with non-Hodgkin lymphoma for the second time. The first was a little over two years after my
son was born. The lymph system is a filter system that filters out foreign substances in the body. Some substances can
lodge in the lymph system and turn into cancer. A pregnant woman’s lymph system will also filter the waste and foreign
substances in the developing child’s body.
A female is born with all of her eggs, which are already coded in basic code. In genetic birth defects the basic code
in the egg had to be messed up in the female at her birth, or induced by something else. If the code was messed up at
her birth then there would be a pattern of the defect in prior generations. If the genetic fault was induced, then there
would be no defects in prior generations.
Males are not born with all their sperm, it is manufactured as needed. The genetics of their sperm is made up or a
duplicate of the individuals genetic system. If the male has a genetic fault then there is a good chance the genetic
makeup of the sperm will contain the same fault. Environmental or chemical factors that cause genetic malfunctions are
just as likely, or more likely, to be passed on by the male.
Some scientist suggested that chemical compounds may also cause birth defects. In females the compound has to
penetrate her already coded eggs. Or the compound has to stay in her body and be transferred by fluids as the infant
grows. In males the sperm is manufactured and can absorb certain types of compounds, the same kinds that
herbicides are made from. This being the case then the male can, through his sperm, transfer this compound directly
into the egg.
These compounds that are in the embryonic sac will eventually be filtered by the Lymph system of the mother;
where they can lodge and eventually turn into cancer. I believe these compounds were transferred through my sperm
into my wife’s egg, producing an embryo. The waste from this embryo was filtered by her lymph system, trapping these
compounds and they turned into non- Hodgkin lymphoma.
Within the last few years the human genetic code has been decoded. The general thought was that there were
genes that caused diseases, but when they started testing identical twins, one may have a condition and the other
would not. The genetics were run and both had the same defective gene. Why would one have a problem and the
other would be fine? Through their research they found or concluded that each gene had a trigger that turned them on
or off and that a chemical reaction would cause them to turn on or off.
The reason this case has been a problem is that at the beginning there were a lot of unanswered questions, and as
the medical conditions were tested and diagnosed, what caused the conditions seemed to start painting a picture. The
more information I gathered, and the more I learned, the clearer the picture seemed to become which caused the
theories to change. The medical records from Vietnam had serum sickness, fever, unknown origin and malaria. The VA
tests said I did not have serum sickness or malaria. Whose right, either the VA or the doctors in Vietnam? We do not
have the blood test from Vietnam that would prove malaria was found, nor do we know if the doctors made the
diagnoses knowing if they didn’t do something I would die. One thing we know for sure is the fever of unknown origin
has not been disputed. Also we know I did not have scars in my lungs when I entered into service, and that the VA
found them shortly after I returned from Vietnam. While in the hospital in Vietnam I had headaches, malaise, fatigue,
dizziness, weakness, nervousness, nausea, fever, rash, anemia, epigastric distress and weight loss. The VA
examination showed I had calcinosis through both lung fields, a negative eye examination, and my heart was rather
slow. I have a son that was born with birth defects that has previously been listed. His mother came down with non-
Hodgkin lymphoma a little after his birth. My son also has come down with a sugar problem less then four months after I
was diagnosed as having borderline diabetes. If I was exposed to something that changed or attached to my genetic
system, then there is a good chance his system’s clock for this disease and mine would be approximately the same
age. Now look at the symptoms I have. I don’t have prostate cancer yet, but I do have prostatitis, I am borderline
diabetic, I have PTSD, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, back pain, arthritis, fatigue, dizziness, peripheral neuritis,
gastroesophageal reflux disease, occasional shortness of breath, sleeping difficulties, small blisters that periodically
appear on my feet in the soft tissue, nodules painful lumps on the main leader on both feet and hyperkeratotic
acanthoma which is a rare type of skin tumor.
I have asked the doctors about the painful nodules on the main leaders in both feet and the small blisters I
periodically have in the soft tissue on the bottom of my feet, none of them can tell me exactly what it is and what caused
them. Dr Mitchell said he thought the nodules were caused by the blisters. One can not take all the symptoms my family
has one at a time, they must be put together. Part of the symptoms my family has can be caused by histoplasmosis, but
a chemical exposure or herbicide exposure can cause almost all the symptoms. The unknown origin that sent me to the
hospital in Vietnam probably caused all these symptoms and complications. I believe anyone which would take a good
look at my case, would conclude something has gone terribly wrong. One of the reasons that there seems to be
conflicting theories in this case, is that no one in the VA has met with me to try and clear up any