Phuoc Vinh Ground Zero


In our Water

When you consider that we LIVED there, (ate, drank & sleep) with an open tank for the drinking and cooking water, slogging through the mud during the rainy season; could we really avoid exposure?

The veterans who were physically present at Phuoc Vinh Groundwater Zero are, undoubtedly, the most likely to show high level body-burdens of the compounds, even today. Why haven’t we tested the veterans who were subjected to the heaviest and most continuous contamination? Thousands of these soldiers can indeed be found today, through service organizations and the various grassroots networks addressing this issue.

Establishing a group of veterans subjected to high levels of exposure, by evidence of Dioxin (2378 TCDD) testing, and THEN studying these epidemiologically will get at the truth of the matter. The results of blood or tissue analysis of these veterans of Ground Zero will definitively show very high levels of exposure. An additional survey of the medical histories of deceased veterans of Phuoc Vinh will provide STARTLING data.

A year ago I was diagnosed with actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition and a cancerous spot (squamous-cell carcinoma) was surgically removed. Whether my skin condition is linked to the thirteen months, I spent in Phuoc Vinh and surrounding areas remains to be seen…

Agent Orange, named after the color of the stripe on the barrels in which the defoliant sprayed by American forces during the Vietnam War was stored, contained tetrachlorodibenzop dioxin (known as TCDD), one of the most poisonous chemicals ever made by man.

The following is an Agent Orange study done by Gregg Knowlton:

The following photos are from “fold3″ a collection of original military records

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64 Comments

Filed under Vietnam War

64 responses to “Phuoc Vinh Ground Zero

  1. Richard Schunk

    My unit, the 31st Engineer Battalion, ran the water purification plant down at the river. Remember the Kool Aid flavored “bug juice” we all drank to disguise the taste of the water? Beer was probably the safest thing to drink.

  2. Paul Limandri

    I served with the 1st Aviation Brigade(air traffic controllers) at Phouc Vinh 67-68.We were told there was no way we were ever exposed to Agent Orange or any other toxins.What should I do now.Since my return home I have experienced symptoms that I thought were normal (drug use,failed marriage,isolation,etc) but have not reported any to VA.I made 2 unsuccessful attempt to be seen by the VA soon after discharge but gave up and have had no contact with the VA since. My youngest son was born with defect.

  3. Paul Limandri

    Thanks Brother,I will.

  4. jesuspdlr

    I’m sorry for all you, vets…
    Agent Orange was a fatal mistake many people are still suffering.
    Ps: Rob, my best wishes to you.

  5. usastruck

    Jesus, your concern is much appreciated…

  6. Lindsay

    I have been trying to piece together my fathers life upon being drafted into Vietnam and the aftermath that followed. I ordered his separation documents ( DD form 214) and found out he was a mail clerk, like yourself. However, I do not know where to obtain documenaton on the location(s) he served at. He was exposed to agent orange, and I was hoping to research the amount of dioxin dropped in the areas he was stationed. Do you have any advice on how I may obtain this information? Also, do you know any books published, or where I may obtain information regarding what the station of a mail cerk entitled?
    thank you.

    • usastruck

      I spent the final months of my thirteen-month tour as the mail clerk for Charlie Troop 1/9th. Prior to that I was in the bush with the Charlie Troop Blues which ended with an injury. I feel most of my exposure to Agent Orange was while in the jungle with the Blues. http://usastruck.wordpress.com/2009/09/13/charlie-troop-blues/

      Maybe someone with more knowledge than I on how to obtain that information will come across your comment and be able to help you. I wish you the best…

    • john urban

      hi Lindsey, I was at phouc vinh from 1970 to the time we all pulled out and went to bien hoa. Our mail clerk was sp4 glenn onaga (sp?). is this your dad? contact me either or ok?

      • Lindsay

        Hi John, Thank you for posting a reply. My fathers name was Donald Carlson, he was from Illinois. Can you tell me, what does “sp4″ mean?

      • john urban

        Hi Lindsey, I’m sorry for your loss. Unfortunately for me I had problems since Vietnam too. Mild at first (headaches/skin problems) then in 1976 a large mass developed on my sacrum. It had arisen many times then go away. I went to VA Portland and they surgically removed it and I thought it was done and gone. However, the skin problems vesicles on my hands continue. In 1988 I started to have breathing problems. By 2/89 I had full blown pneumonia. It nearly killed me. I had a chest film taken in my office and there was a huge mass in my right olung. ( I was a Chiropractor) well, in 1/89 surgury was performed to removed and they took out the middle lobe of my right lung. Well in doing that they separate both shoulders, tore 4 thoracic discs and damaged several more. I then had spinal cord damage. Oh I had three broken ribs in the left chest and a major staph infection as well. They did a 4 level laminectomies at T-7-10 in 12/89. I was needless to say out of practice forever. I’ve had 7 masses removed since then with 4 removed from the spine last year (2010). Still crushing headaches lasting at least 3 days some as long as 5days causing neausea and vomiting as well as occuring more frequently (appx 1xwk now). I also have type II diabetes, heart problems, osteoporosis, neurological problems (tingling/numness). The last couple of months problems with my entire GI tract and kidney problems. My white blood cell count (WBC count) has always 10% above maximum nomal or much higher. Always high lymphocyte count and eosinophil count way above maximum normal. Plus other high and low blood findings.I filed a multi levelled claim with VA in 8/11 and they assigned a Dr. in 11/11. I was excited at first thinking who would know what all the medical problems caused by agent orange where. Well I was totally wrong. I’ve been under private insurance for 23 years for the numerous problems I’ve had since Vietnam. Right now after a year of multiple doctors, tests and assesments there is NOTHING wrong with me!!!!! Wow! I was shocked! The x-ray department said they found nothing on my x-rays! I’m an expert in radiology and the just happened to miss the back part of 4 vertebra missing, right middle lobe of my lung missing and severe osteoporosis of my left femur and ilium amongst several other findings.I’ve had 3 different MD’s since June and the latest says he doesn’t believe that Agent Orange caused any type of health problems. He says most all Vietnam Veterans are healthy and and just a few of you have claimed these kind of problems. He has no idea how close he came to getting knocked out!!!! Makes my blood boil! Waiting for the formal denial now. Their problem with me is apparently I’m and expert in all their fields. I didn’t know that until the last 12 months. their negligence, lack of simple ability and just out in out malpractice is astonishing! I’m fearful about how many they have killed and are killing right now including myself! Its criminal fratracide not to mention what has happened to our families! Sorry to have talked your ear off. One other thing that I never see mentioned is that agent orange is a mixture of defolients and at Phouc Vinh mixed with diesel fuel as a spreader sticker. The diesel fuel is mixed with the orange to make it stick to things (including us) much better and repel rain from washing it away. When I was there the whole area smelled like diesel all the time and when it rained the water would bead up and just run off everything including the dirt. I found this out in the 1990’s. Finally, a sp4 is a rank its also known as a corporal or an E-4. I was a sgt. E-5. Does any of this sound familiar? John

      • Lindsay

        Thank you for sharing your experiance. I am now thinking of things I had never considered before regarding my fathers health had he lived through his cancer. I believe this to be an absurd question but I have to ask it, did the government ever disclose any harmful affects of agent orange ,or any of the herbacides sprayed, before your enlistment to Vietnman, during, or after it?

  7. paul adler

    sp4 is a specialist 4th class. In the beginning (of time probably) there was E1 = buck private, E2 = private, E3 = private first class, E4 = corporal, E5 = sargent, etc etc. all these ranks were infantry designations – at its essence thats what the army is – infantry. starting some time later (than the beginning of time), as technologies were introduced more and more into the army, a parallel set of enlisted ranks emerged. These were intended to designate people of an equivalent rank to the infantry designation, but to show they were on the technology end of the new army than the infantry side of the business. So were the beginnings of the “specialist” ranks. These specialist ranks begin after basic training and the next level of training coined AIT for Advanced Infantry Training even though many of the schools that people attend are now more towards technology than infantry per se. As such the designations for privates (E1,E2 and E3 remain the same). however instead of becoming a two-stripper “corporal” – used in the infantry and related fields, the graduate from a technology school is designated a Specialist 4th class or simply Spec 4 (= sp4). further promotions along the parallel ladder can be Spec 5 (= sergant), Spec 6 (= staff sargent). etc. hopefully this will be long winded enough to answer your question.

  8. John Mellquist

    I was also at Phuoc Vinh mid 69 to Mar 71. The mailman for our unti, HHC/Co B, 227th AHB, was the most protected and worried about person we had. Everyone was always asking about the mail, “Where’s Durda?” Durda was his last name, don’t remember his first.

  9. usastruck

    I recall, 1st SGT Herder asking me if I was holding back his mail, because he didn’t get any for awhile.
    Now why would I have possibly done something like that…
    It actually was a very powerful position!

  10. Dave Armstrong

    Should anyone that was based there contact the VA for a conseltation and possible side affects of agent orange? I was there on and off for a while.

  11. usastruck

    Dave, your best bet is contact a Veterans Service Officer with DAV http://www.dav.org/ and discuss it with them…

    • Dave Armstrong

      I down loaded all of the agent orange spray maps and looked at the spraying for the years I was there. I was a heavy crane operator so traveled all over. Seems that I managed to work in about 75% of the areas that were sprayed.
      Yep, gonna make an appointment.

  12. Hi. i was at Phouc Vinh in early 1971 for two months. I was a cook with 15TH. Med. 1St. Cav. We were on standown getting ready to go down to Bien Hoa. Even though i was a cook, me and everyone else were working 17 hours a day tearing down the hooches and burning them. The Arvin soliders could not wait till we left. We almost got into a fight with them. We took quite a few rockets before we left. I’m guessing the VC wanted to give us a going away present. A man named Tom from Guam and myself took the flag off commo. I was was in a state of shock when a couple a years ago i found out that Phouc Vinh was ground zero for agent orange. I to went to Sidney for R&R. What a blast. Does any body remember the Checker Club up on King’s Cross.

  13. usastruck

    Yes, Sidney was great!

    http://usastruck.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/rr-in-sydney/

    Welcome Home Malcolm…

  14. David Armstrong

    When I arrived in PV of June 70, I was a 62F30 crane operator. The unit did not have any cranes so I was given the position as motor pool clerk. I had done that job in Germany as they did not have a crane either. I was in PV for a week when the first sergeant came around and asked who I was. Armstrong, you come with me. So we headed to a chopper pad with my gear and landed in Phuoc Binh. Top went to get the mail and I stayed at the pad to take a pee. About ten minutes latter we headed to Bu Dop. When we arrived no one would talk to me, show me where to sleep, nothing. My first night on guard duty someone turned all the claymores around so they would hit the guard post. Then most of my gear was stolen. On the way out of there I could only find a seat in the back of a duce and a half. The truck was shot at and hit in convoy. When we ended up, I think Song Be the same type of things went on. Vehicles throttles rigged, gear stolen, no one talking to me. This went on for 4-5 months. Finally someone came into the motor pool smoking a joint. He said: Aren’t you going to turn me in. I said, No, why. Then he started laughing. You aren’t a NARC. No I replied.

    It seems that the new company clerk and been to Phuoc Binh 2 days before I got there. He turned in two soldiers for smoking pot and was returned to Phuoc Vinh to testify. I, motor pool “clerk’ was sent to Bu Dop and everyone thought that “I” was the “clerk” that had turned in the guys. It was hell for the months I was there.

    After I found out the whole story I requested a transfer to the 557LE which was granted. I got attached to another unit of the 31st and for the next 3-4 months got no mail of pay. Finally a Lt. showed up, asked who I was and stated he was my platoon leader. He had my mail and pay with him. Soon after that the rest of my platoon showed up to do a bridge project. Things improved after that. I somehow have been kind of a loner ever since.

  15. Edward Batson, Cpt. Retired

    Was a pilot in phouc vinh in 69 and remember getting wet when the spray drifted over the base .Drank a lot of bug juice. Had left upper lung removed for larg cell tumor in 09. Doctors were baffled because my medical history showed no smoking or parents second hand smoke. No work history around carcinogens .No family history of any cancers. The VA has given me a 0 percent disability and acknowledged it’s connection to Agent Orange. However if you are not dying of cancer you are just fine.But wait maybe I do have it and it’s too small to see right now. Have neuropathy in feet and hands and a va doctor ruled out all autoimmune diseases.So that leaves agent orange,good luck proving it. And those were his exact words

  16. Skip

    I was there 2/67 to 2/68 595th sig Co. I was immediately given disability for agent orange 5 years ago but have been battling for my ptsd – go figure, all they had to do was look at the casualties for our platoon in PV after that I did a second tour in Phu Loi due to casualties there. both places we got the crap shelled out of us. i helped put up the signal tower in PV, houches were next to 167th aviation co so we got what missed them! Then there was convoy duty each month except fot 3 mos when they couldn’t hold Thunder Road. We always got hit in the convoy.

  17. Paul Limandri "Skip"

    Thanks for the info and encouragement about Agent Orange and PTSD claims.Last month I went to the VA hosp.and registered.I have also hooked up with DAV and they are helping me file claims for Agent Orange exposure and PTSD.Last week I had an appt.with VA physician assistant for Agent Orange screening.I have an appt in July for PTSD screening.I have been surprised at all the help and consideration I have received by the VA.It seems our brothers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have aroused a new concern for the Viet Nam vet.Thank you younger brothers and welcome home.I have received the most help and guidance from the DAV.Their counselers are trained and certified and all volunteers.They have worked to help many vets navigate thru the process.They know how the system works and how to work it.The DAV does this because they care not because it’s their job.I suggest any Viet Nam vet get registered with VA and contact their local DAV chapter.I thank all my brothers on this site for your help and encouragement.

  18. Carl Buick

    I was there march 70 to march 71. Our area on base was in an old rubber plantation. When I came there the trees had leaves, one year later they were bare.

  19. Patti

    My husband was in Phuoc Vinh. We can not find it on a map. Can anyone tell us exactly where it is on a map? Thanks!

  20. Don Callahan

    I was at PV from 11/68-10/69 w/ the 1st Cav Div Arty and had felt the spray of AO on my face many times.
    Go to the “15th Field Artillery Regiment” website for great info on AO and where and how much was sprayed. PV was hit the hardest 68-70. PV recieved 10 times more concentration then a farmer would spray roundup.
    I have been in contact w/ 4 old buddies from PV and 3 of the 4 have AO problems. One had his first son born in 1970 w/ Spina Bifada but was never compensated because it was not on the list untill after his sons death. One guy has Diabetis, Parkinson, COPD, prostrate cancer and recieves 50%, another recieves 90% for prostrate cancer and Diabetis. I recieve 30% for PTSD but tried to get it 15 years ago and didn’t get it till 3 years ago after they decided to recognise all MOS’s. They said my MOS was not a combat MOS.
    I have had several problems that I believe could be AO but none are cancerous so no comp. I have had prostrate problems for 15 years, ruptured colon for no apparant reason, neuropathy at 50 degrees or less, golf ball size tumors removed from back and shoulder and skin problems on my feet and hands.
    Welcome Home !!!

    • usastruck

      Yes, the big thing is whether or not the health condition is on the so-called AO list. I feel the list should be expanded with more conditions, but you know as well as I; ‘IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BUCK!’

      Welcome Home Don…

    • I was in Phouc Vihn 67-68 with the 595th Sig Co.(white platoon). We had the 204 ft tower and all communications. I was S/Sgt e-6. I have had open heart surgery, diabetes., ptsd, and neraphty. Next week I will have mt bladder removed because of cancer. I am 100% disabled and do use the VA . Everyone should file a claim, because they caused us all of the problems.

      Jim Davis

  21. bob stephenson

    I was there 2/68 just before Tet until we moved our base camp north in Sept-68, We ran patrols out of PV, I was with D-2/506th, 101st Abn. Inf.
    You could see the C-123’s or C-130’s spraying overhead almost daily.
    Our water supply was a pond by the PV chopper pad between our 506th area and the 3/187th’s area,
    I used the DAV as my claim rep, they got me a 60% disability, part for Agent Orange, part for PTSD and part for tremmers in my hands.
    It is what it is, my best therapy is being a ” born again christian”.
    God Bless all of you Vets, if you don’t know the Lord, find a good bible believing church and try it. There is nothing better, then knowing the Lord.

    • usastruck

      Welcome Home Bob & God Bless…

    • SP5 Paul Limandri (Skip)

      With the help of our local DAV,I filed my claim 1/15/13 and received a request for more info from the VA 1/30/13.About a month ago I got a letter from VA saying they are reviewing my claim for PTSD and prostate cancer.A fellow Nam vet I know just received his first check after waiting 13 months.I was an Army air traffic controller with 338th ASD Phouc Vinh Jan 68-Nov 68.Would like to hear from any PV ATCs that served with me.

  22. Bruce Haris

    I was at Phuoc Vinh in 1970 with the 27!th Maintenance Bat. Ist Cav Div and would like to know if any of my friends are on his site.

  23. L.B. Forgey

    I was at Phouc Vinh from 9/66 to 8/67 with 1st Bde, 1st Infantry. In September of 2011, I filed claims through the VA for type ll diabetes and ischemic heart disease. After over 600 days, May of 2013 to be exact, I received word that my claim had been approved. Just wanted to let you all know that the wheels turn very slowly. I wish all you guys the best of luck.

  24. David Armstrong

    I did follow through on my AO claim and prostrate cancer. I ended treatment last Dec. 14th. Did guided IMRT treatments and so far am good. I let the VFW assist me and I got 100% disability until 6 months after treatment as well as all the back pay to the initial claim date. I am now at 20% for residuals. I also filled for PTSD and am now 70% disabled for that. So ended up at 80% disabled. I never knew I had the PTSD issue until I met the VFW rep and he said: “Have you eve been tested…… PTSD. Never knew it showed so bad. Anyways, If any of you do have to file a claim I highly recommend a service rep. I know I appreciated mine.

  25. Was in viet nam in 67-68 with the BIG RED ONE 1st. 2nd inf. In phouch vin.I am trying to find out if i was exposed to agent orange. Mabe someone can help me thanks

    • Yes, without a doubt!
      Welcome Home Charles…

    • PTSD its a bad thing if anyone was over there(viet nan) you should understand what it is and what i am going through flash backs, temper changes,not being able to get real close to anyone,very hard to show emotions, don’t like being around a lot of people. I am going for help through the VA but i will say it is very hard to foget and go through.I was with the Big Red one in 67-68 in the 1st bal. 2nd inf. Unit in phouch-vinh.just trying to get better thanks.

      • I don’tunderstand our country they send us over seas tell us we are at war , tell us to kill the enemey,and then the ones that make it back you no they tell us to foget what happen and go on with your life, but it dosen’t work way.Then you ask your country for HELP and they say i can’t thank you to our country.t

  26. B Kent Maxfield

    I was in the Big Red One Phouc Vinh 1967. Had surgery for Pan Can March 2013. No history of cancer in family. I believe orange caused my cancer. I was in the first of the second. May God bless are brothers in arms and those we have lost.

  27. Served in Vietnam in 1967-68 with the BIG RED 1 1,st bal. 2nd inf. Bravo company looking for anyone who served with me. They can’t seam to find my records Charles Joseph R eis Jr. Us52687503 thank you.

  28. Was in vietnam in 67-68 bravo company 1st bal 2nd inf. Looking for anyone who was there with me they can not find my records can you help me thanks

  29. Did we find any records of charles joseph reis jr. Vietnam 1967-68 bravo company 1st bal. 2nd inf.

  30. Carl Bradfield

    I helped build Camp Weber at Phuoc Vinh in Nov, 1965 and lived there (when not on ops) until October 1966. Guys in the 1st Bn. 26th Inf. wanted the Army to use that “defoliage Stuff'”, not knowing of course. Recently I started recieving comp from the VA for PTSD but still have to prove that I was exposed to Agent Orange (sent the imformation they asked for) even though a VA doctor has “suggested” that my lunge troubles “may be” caused by Agent Orange. What more can I do?

    • Carl, continue to appeal your claim with the VA and provide as much documentation as possible to support your case. Don’t give up! Welcome Home…

  31. Kt

    Istemic heart disease is caused by Agent Orange! My husband almost died at 53! 5 bypasses & 14 years still living with a boat load of meds. Thank you USA Government!

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