82nd Airborne Division (Vietnam) Golden Brigade – Vietnam 1968 – 1969

May 30, 2015

Golden Brigade Experiences With Agent Orange

Category: All Messages – Ron Yorkovich – 6:00 pm

Operation Ranch Hand was a U.S. military operation during the Vietnam War, lasting from 1962 until 1971. Ranch Hand involved spraying an estimated 20 million U.S. gallons of defoliants and herbicides over rural areas of South Vietnam in an attempt to deprive the Viet Cong of food and vegetation cover. Areas of Laos and Cambodia were also sprayed to a lesser extent. Nearly 20,000 sorties were flown between 1961 and 1971. The Vietnamese government estimates that 400,000 people were killed or maimed and 500,000 children born with birth defects as a result of this spraying of what were called by the Americans ‘rainbow herbicides’.

The “Ranch Handers” motto was “Only you can prevent a forest” – a take on the popular U.S. Forest Service poster slogan of Smokey Bear. During the ten years of spraying, over 5 million acres of forest and 500,000 acres of crops were heavily damaged or destroyed. Around 20% of the forests of South Vietnam were sprayed at least once.

The herbicides were sprayed by the U.S. Air Force flying C-123s using the call sign “Hades”. The planes were fitted with specially developed spray tanks with a capacity of 1,000 U.S. gallons of herbicides. A plane sprayed a swath of land that was 80 meters wide and 10 miles long in about 4½ minutes, at a rate of about 3 U.S. gallons per acre. Sorties usually consisted of three to five airplanes flying side by side. 95% of the herbicides and defoliants used in the war were sprayed by the U.S. Air Force as part of Operation Ranch Hand. The remaining 5% were sprayed by the U.S. Chemical Corps, other military branches, and the Republic of Vietnam using hand sprayers, spray trucks, helicopters and boats, primarily around U.S. military installations.

Please click “Comments” (below Smokey’s picture) to read or post your experiences with Agent Orange.

Click on the links below to read/download the official documents.

The Air Force and Herbicides in Southeast Asia 1961-1971 Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force (AFD-100928-054)

 Agent Orange Spray Map

VA – Agent Orange Exposure Conditions

Va – Agent Orange Compensation Guide

Chapter 13 – Agent Orange Claims Development



  1. Served with 82nd from July 1968 – Jul 69 (Bien Hoa 4 mos and Phu Loi 8 mos). I was responsible for orders, records and awards…..and a ton of legal work toward the end. Had a Sergeant Cephus break the egg eating contest (Cool Hand Luke was popular) and the article appeared in Stars and Stripes.

    Ran into another 1Lt (Warner) in Kingston, NY – we both started work at IBM about the same time.

    Question: Did anyone have any medical issues due to Agent Orange spraying at Phu Loi?

    Dick Tunstall

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — January 20, 2012 @ 6:08 pm

  2. Dick, I served with C/1st/508 Infantry from Mar of 68 to 69. My base of operations from FSB Birmingham. Our area was sprayed heavely with AO. In 2006 I was diagnosed stage 4 non-hodgkins lymphoma. I went through 6 mos of chemo and then another yr of treatments. I lost about 83 lbs during my illness but I servived. I’m currently on 100% from the VA. I’m retired and loving it. I hope you are well and have no issues. Welcome Home Brother

    Comment by Mike Murphy — January 22, 2012 @ 1:55 pm

  3. The entire III Corp area had 4,086,229 gallons of Agent Orange sprayed on it. Phu Loi area had 79,000 of Agent Orange and 83,430 gallons of Agent White from 1965 to the end of the war. These numbers come fron the USAF Ranch Hand studies updated March 2011. Info from Gary Moore Chairman Michigan AO Comm. E-mail: ao@gmasw.com

    Comment by Steven molden — January 25, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  4. Dick:
    I was in Phu Loi during our final stand down before our DEROS back to Ft. Bragg. Was there most of November 69′ until we left 11 December. To this point I’ve had no issues with AO exposure and have had plenty of tests performed at the VA. Hope you have no issues because of exposure. Welcome Home and Thank You for your service.
    Bob Fitzthum
    E Co., 1/508 Infantry
    17 Jan 69′ – 11 Dec 69′

    Comment by Bob Fitzthum — January 27, 2012 @ 2:51 am

  5. DICK;


    Comment by TOM FURST — February 17, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  6. Dick: I served with Co. A 1/508 out of Phu Loi most of the time, Aug 69 till Nov 69. Worked a lot out of the “Pinapple” area. My squad leader, SGT Ron Mathia from Kansas died in 1990 from skin cancers that had spread to his brain. We also had a medic, can’t remember his name that had to leave in Oct. 69 due to skin problems after spraying. I just get small lesions that need to be taken off periodically. The VA says it must be from my family history…Bull-shit. They also say I am diabetic and acute Glaucoma from family history. No one on either side of my family has had any of this for 4 generations. Didn’t know this site existed till last night. Pretty neat, glad all of you made it home, Nick.

    Comment by Terry "Nick" Nicholson — February 24, 2012 @ 9:14 am

  7. I was in Phu Loi April 1968 to July 1968. Sept. 2012 I was diagnosed with lieomyosarcoma, attached to my small intestine, and awarded 100% service connected disability benefits. Three-years earlier I was diagnosed with type ll diabetes so I was already at 30% due to agent orange so the additional 70% due to agent orange may have been higher if not previously diagnosed with diabetes.

    Comment by Jim Byrd — December 30, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  8. Dick – I was in the 3rd Brigade, Headquarter Company from March 69 until Nov-Dec 69 when the 82nd DEROS out of Nam. Then I was transferred to 114th Trans in Nha Trag. Phu Loi and Nha Trang areas were the most heavily sprayed areas with Agent Orange. I have some sinus allergies but no major problems so far. But, I am qualified for Agent Orange. Anyone in that arena is covered for heart and lung problems under Agent Orange.

    Comment by Jim C. Mitchell — January 2, 2013 @ 12:59 am

  9. I was in Phu Loi with Div Arty in Aug-Dec 1967 then mostly at Lai Khe after that. A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with Parkinsons Disease which the VA has made a Presumtive Illness related to Agent Orange. They have made me 30% disabled as a result.

    Comment by Dan Woolard — February 27, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

  10. Hey everyone, my father was at phu loi base from 65-67 and he remembers the spraying of agent orange and agent white quite frequently. When he got home from Nam his filling fell out of his teeth, he has had skin cancer twice and is now diabetic, we also have 0 diabetic people in our family absolutely no history of it whatsoever, and he has now had a massive stroke, which I can notsay if that is associated with AO or not. The other thing are very indicative of AO exsposure. Don’t know if this helps of not, any feedback is appreciated. Thanks to all you guys, I will never forget!!!!!!

    Comment by Jeff — March 27, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

  11. My father was in Phu Loi from Sept. 1968 to Sept. 1969 with the l97th. He was exposed to many chemicals while serving and passed from multiple types of cancers for the last 30 decades of his life. His military file while his service in vietnam was lost after his return to the states. He fought the battle of trying to prove his cancers were service connected for decades with little sucess.

    Comment by R. Pontbriand — July 21, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  12. Hi Dick; I served with HHC, 1st Avn Bn, 1st Inf. Div. I was a mechanic in the motor pool in the Engineer Section, we were Power Generator Mechanics 52D20. I first found out that I had prostate cancer that had metastasized to my lungs and spine almost 6 years ago (2007). My PSA level was 640. I collect 100% and am being maintained on various cancer meds. My PSA is under 1 with my latest drug.

    Get checked out Brothers. AO is nasty.

    Welcome Home!

    Comment by Daniel "Danny" Love — July 30, 2013 @ 7:19 pm

  13. started out at phu bai then they moved us to phu loi. I was with the 82 spt bn assigned to the 82nd trk plt. In basic got pneumonia. Exposed to AO. Started expierencing shortness of breath around 1984. I was diagnosed with lung fibrois(Sclerederma) and Reynauds in 1999. I am now on 02 24hrs. and a shitload of meds. Let VA know and have been back and forth since 2005. Just want to let them know in case someone else is expierencing same symptons/problem. good luck guys

    Comment by Jose L Garza — October 13, 2013 @ 5:10 am

  14. Hi folks, I found this string of emails and was trying to find out more about Phu loi, people there as well as about agent orange/white exposure . Bruce was there march 1969 through dec 1969. I think his boss was a major Gimanger (sp?) Bruce was both a clerk and monitored the helicopter traffic. I have a number of his letters from tha time but most burned up in our house fire in 2004.

    BRuce died of a brain tumor (gbmIV) in 2005 and I always thought it was related to his exposure to agent orange. Any info you have about the area, what it was like to be there and about agent orange exposure there would be helpful. My sons are very much interested in what it was like for their dad to be there.. so am I.
    shaun summersunwoman@aol.com

    Comment by Shaun Brink wife of Bruce Brink — January 5, 2014 @ 5:23 am

  15. Dick, I was assigned to the 3rd Bde, 82nd ABN DIV at Bien Hoa, Phu Loi, Phu Bai and Phu Loi again from May 68 to Dec 69. I was with the support unit (non-Airborne)nevertheless, I served my country in Nam for 18 Months. As of 2+ years ago, I was diagnosed with NASH (non alcoholic liver problems) but being told that it is not AO related by the VA doctors. Still questioning the origin of the illness with no answers. Perhaps someone out there may know the answer to this question. I am retired from the Army. The best to you Dick.

    Comment by Jose A. Torres — September 26, 2014 @ 8:25 am

  16. My dad was there from 69 through 70 and had a few issues that recently the VAsay it is because of”agent orange” 82 airborne brigade.

    Comment by Luis Perez — January 17, 2015 @ 8:18 pm

  17. hey guys I too was with the 1/508 infantry 6/69/until they rotated back to the world, was transferred the 1st inf. div. I have been diagnosed as a diabetic, (no family connections)also have glaucoma, as well as other things, even been placed on the agent orange register, based on an environment exam (viet-nam)conducted by the VA, but they don’t care, we seem to be test tube animals to them, this makes me very angry, I cherish the memories of those whom lost their lives, and pray for the best to all of us that returned to a blind society that just don’t care.

    Comment by archie — January 20, 2015 @ 1:33 pm

  18. comment dated January 20, 2015 @1:33 pm was submitted by me, and my name is on the viet_nam wall in Clarendon, AR. at least that was posted, but the VA surely didn’t do it.

    Comment by Archie Roark — January 20, 2015 @ 1:40 pm

  19. I was stationed at Phu Loi with the 82nd Support Battalion for most of 1969. In January, 2013 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I am receiving 100% VA disability. I am due for a reevaluation by the VA soon.

    Comment by Bob Brown — March 21, 2015 @ 4:50 pm

  20. I was stationed at 12th Evac Hospital, Cu Chi, RVN from Aug 69 to Aug 70. I traveled through Phu Loi village and the base camp 2-4 times weekly. In 2011 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. For a year I was 100% VA disability, then I had the a prostatectomy. Since I’m “clear” now, I am at 20%. AO did a pretty good job on all of us it seems. Welcome Home, Brothers!

    Comment by Denny Burroughs — May 14, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

  21. I served as Class 1 Supply Officer, 758th Supply & Service Co. in Phu Loi RVN from May, 1968 – March, 1969. I started developing heart rythym issues in the late 70’s. They got progressively worse until I had to have a pacemaker implanted and then a pacemaker/defibrillator. My defibrillator began firing (and kicking my butt while saving my life) in March, 2012. I spent the rest of the year in and out of hospitals and rehab centers. I was placed on the heart transplant list Dec 21, 2012 and received a new heart March 6, 2013. I’m over two years post-transplant and doing well. I’m retired and living on a small ranch in the Texas Hill Country.

    I was fortunate enough to be classified 100% disabled due to OA exposure by the VA about a year before my health problems really started. My classification was remarkably quick so I figured Phu Loi must have been an OA hotspot.

    I hope this info helps.

    Comment by Stan Iwanicki — May 25, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

  22. My experience is pretty much the same as Stan’s. Multiple arrhythmias started in the mid-80s,heart attack 1999, was briefly a transplant candidate but arrhythmias were minimized with amiodarone. I’m on my 3rd biventricular cardioverting defibrillator pacemaker (wore out the 1st 2 with shocks; kicking butt is an serious understatement!), 10% ejection fraction. VA granted 100% after only 9 months.

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — May 25, 2015 @ 10:46 pm

  23. I actually got sick in Vietnam. Had lots of blood in my bowl movements, kidney problems and they later tumors. Stayed in the military and was discharged because they told me my body was failing to thrive for some reason in 1976. Was told I would get a medical compensation payment, but that never happened. So I spent 22 years fighting with the VA who never admitted to AO until about two months ago. Was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I have had many health issues which I am sure are AO its just that there not considered deadly enough I guess. They do destroy your life though. However on the individual problems I was service connected just at zero percent until 1997 and at that time the 100 percent went back to 1976 when I won my case. I have a group on facebook detailing some of the current experiences with my AO experiences. I post there daily. Best wishes to everyone and hope for the best for you.

    I was with the 1st of the 505th and run a forward relay in the chu chi area. Sometime in March of 69 a group of people were sent on a special mission that I always thought we were in Cambodia. Not sure but that was when my problems started. We experiences heavy casualties and were finally picked up with a C-130 in a field we recond the night before. I know there were around 62 of us left at the time we were picked up and well over a hundred when we started out 3 weeks earlier. Anyone remember anything about this. My last mission was when the 1/505th moved to the Iron Triangle I was first point man for the battalion on the FB with the communications then went to the rear as commo Sgt.

    Comment by Ray Larsen — May 30, 2015 @ 5:14 pm

  24. I served in the Army in Phu Bai Vietnam in 1969 and concerned that I may have been exposed to Agent Orange. My systems are and unbalance Thyroid Condition that tends to cause serve depression and anxiety.

    Comment by Ken Paylor — September 15, 2016 @ 6:37 pm

  25. Hi Ken; This website is no longer maintained. For Chapter information visit http://www.goldenbrigade.org. For finding buddies and participating in conversations and war stories with other Golden Brigade veterans, please join our Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/82ndairbornevietnam/ we have over 400 members [families invited]). There are Agent Orage documents and discussions there. Pass the word – let’s get everyone involved!

    Ron Yorkovich

    Comment by Ron Yorkovich — December 12, 2016 @ 2:21 pm

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