I have had an increasing amount of inquiries from former Korea veterans in regards to the spraying of Agent Orange in areas near the DMZ. This spraying occurred during a period of heightened tensions along the DMZ where the North Koreans increased infiltrators into South Korea in an attempt to start an insurgency, ambush soldiers, attack US camps, bomb barracks, and even try to assassinate the South Korean President during a period that became known as the 2nd Korean War. Agent Orange was sprayed along the DMZ areas in order to kill foliage in order to more easily spot North Korean infiltrators. Agent Orange has since been proven to be the cause of a number of health defects with veterans that served in both Vietnam and Korea.
The spraying of Agent Orange in Korea has now been verified by the US government and the VA wants people who may have been exposed to it to come in:
The government is offering to examine Cold War American troops who served in Korea three decades ago for possible exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange.
In a little-publicized initiative, the Veterans Affairs Department expanded a program previously offered to Vietnam War veterans to include people who served in Korea in 1968-69.
The rule change follows by a year the Pentagon’s disclosure that South Korean troops sprayed Agent Orange, which contained the toxic herbicide dioxin, during that time along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
The decision to give vets free Agent Orange Registry exams, for diseases and medical conditions associated with exposure to the herbicide, is set out in a directive issued Sept. 5 and posted on the department’s http://www.va.gov World Wide Web site.
Agent Orange and other similar herbicides were used during the Vietnam War to eliminate forest cover by defoliating broad sections of jungle mainly to facilitate pursuit of infiltrators and supplies moving into South Vietnam from the north. After it appeared probable that the defoliant caused numerous serious illnesses and birth defects, the VA set up the Agent Orange Registry in 1978, three years after the war ended, for U.S. veterans with in-country Vietnam War military service. More than 300,000 veterans have participated so far.
“Now that we understand that it was sprayed there,” said VA spokesman Jim Benson, “we can say, `If you were in Korea, you may be exposed, and we would like you to come in.”’
The VA may want these veterans to come in, but they want them to prove they were in an area that was sprayed for Agent Orange, which may be tough to do for people that were stationed in units away from the DMZ and did a short temporary duty stint near the DMZ that may have exposed them to Agent Orange. The Pentagon claims that the Agent Orange was only sprayed along the southern portion of the DMZ which is the 2 kilometer wide strip of land on the South Korean side of the border. Even if this is true the Agent Orange could still have washed into other areas and the water supply by rain I would think?
Here is the official list of units along the DMZ that were exposed to Agent Orange:
The four combat brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division, including the following units:
- a) 1-38 Infantry
- b) 2-38 Infantry
- c) 1-23 Infantry
- d) 2-23 Infantry
- e) 3-23 Infantry
- f) 3-32 Infantry
- g) 109th Infantry
- h) 209th Infantry
- i) 1-72 Armor
- j) 2-72 Armor
- k) 4-7th Cavalry
Also, the 3rd Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division, including the following units:
- a) 1-17th Infantry
- b) 2-17th Infantry
- c) 1-73 Armor
- d) 2-10th Cavalry
This veteran’s site has a number of good links on it that should help people looking for information on Agent Orange in Korea for those who are interested. However, does anyone else have any good information or links to share to help veterans that may have been exposed to Agent Orange?