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The Last One Standing?

An Oregon Orange Dump via

An Oregon Orange Dump via

Seasoned travelers hit the road hoping for an “ah ha” moment, the one that can’t be explained. You stand in awe and let emotions run unchecked where words and reason have no meaning.

The Grand Canyon has that reputation. The Columbia Gorge draws people from around the world and they go home speechless.

When our guys were drafted for the the Vietnam War they saw things that made them speechless, too. The soldiers, airmen, and sailors exposed to Agent Orange didn’t come home speechless, though.

They talked and talked, but their words often fell on deaf ears.

What did they say?

A recent interview with an American boomer soldier guarding the DMZ in Korea said the authorities didn’t believe him. They said he wasn’t in Korea, and if he was, Agent Orange wasn’t there.

Turns out he and Agent Orange were both in Korea at the same time, but no one listened. Years later he was dismissed by an officer with these parting words, “You’re a disgrace to the uniform.”

Then he won his appeal. Ron Weber fought the good fight and prevailed over the system that denied him.

A Korean War Marine stood beside Weber. He’s been on the Agent Orange case for decades. His children have suffered and died from the effects Agent Orange had on him.

These two men from two ground wars in Asia share one goal: that others shouldn’t have to all the work they did to get their cases heard.

Good luck helped them build their argument. They discovered long forgotten photographs and long forgotten people who helped make their case. Both said evidence was hard to find.

Does it make sense, or are these men and thousands like them, running a con? Who thinks like that?

An Englishman who made deliveries to a dioxin plant said the exhaust had to be released in the right wind. Once the wind changed and it came in through office windows and melted ladies’ stockings off their legs.

He said the defoliant was produced in metal vats with replaceable liners because the juice ate through everything.

On a fact-finding trip to Vietnam he discovered Agent Orange was loaded and sprayed at full strength instead of the diluted formula.

The Englishman gives anecdotal evidence on dioxins; the two men today reach beyond that.

Two men, one over eighty the other in his sixties, give hope to the aging American butt kickers seeking relief. Start with the truth and stay on it. Is the truth about dioxin so difficult?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but¬†Agent Orange is worse than dropping a cup of hot coffee in your crotch. That lawsuit got paid without the drawn out process of dioxin poisoning in a bunch of guys steadily losing steam. They can’t navigate the Veterans Administration like they used to.

If it’s a waiting game, we already know who wins. Time wins every one of those.

Like seasoned travelers, web researchers also look for an “ah ha” moment. One of these comes from outback Oregon. The image at the top shows barrels of nasty in the Oregon desert. The video on the page shows a bulldozer pushing the barrels.

Goop squirts out the top of the barrels while they compress. They’re heading into a burial hole.

So which is more “ah ha”, that someone decided Oregon was the best place to park toxic waste, or that someone thought burying it would be the right disposal method? Out of sight might mean out of mind, but it doesn’t mean out of the ground water.

The “ah ha” moment for the Boomerpdx staff came by connecting the misguided treatment of dioxin to the misguided treatment of those exposed to it.

They live with the consequences every day and drift further away from any good answers.

American soldiers are good enough to travel the world for their hard jobs, why not work with them a little better when they come back?






About David Gillaspie


  1. Ron Weber says:

    Thanks so much David. You blogging about this means so much to me. I was treated so poorly for so long about it. I kept hearing over and over, “We never sprayed Agent Orange in Korea. Never!”

    When I got the award letter in 2011, I just sat down and cried for hours. Since then I have dedicated many hours to helping Korean Veterans from all over the country get their cases pushed through. It is not only my duty, but a distinct pleasure.

    Often I get emails from the widow or children. They just want to know what their loved one died of. One poor family ended in divorce over it. Then the adult children cut off all ties with the Veteran. After he died in his fifties, they contacted me. They were just heartbroken that they abandoned this poor guy. They had thought something was wrong with him in terms of his desire to work and live a normal life.

    One family member even admitted they thought he was just lazy and did not want to work. When I told them about Agent Orange in Korea and how all of his symptoms matched those of Vietnam and Korean Veterans who were exposed to AO, the daughter just broke down and cried. He is dead now and she can’t ever apologize to him. He really and truly died alone. What a tragedy.

    David your Blog has helped get the message out there so this kind of thing doesn’t continue to happen. It took the poor guys in Vietnam until 1992 to start getting help. Your Korean War friend had to wait until after one child of his died and until another child became really sick before he finally got some help. He was sick for so long himself and still is.

    The only thing I can guarantee is that a small group of us who have fought the VA and DoD over the issue of Agent Orange exposure in Korea will continue the fight. We won the first big battle, but now we have to continue helping one sick soldier and their family at a time. This we will do. Thanks again for your help David.

    Ron Weber

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Your voice cuts through the noise, Ron. I’m glad to push the message further. Keep up the good work. You’re doing it the right way.


  2. Thomas Lucken says:

    The presumptive dates need to be expanded for veterans of the Korean DMZ. Many of us who have served in Korea along the DMZ after 1972, are coming down with Dioxin related illnesses. What Uncle Sam is neglecting to say, that the Dioxins that were left by the use of Agent Orange reside in the dirt for decades to come. We still patrolled the American sector up till the fall of 1991. Several thousand of troops were exposed to the Dioxins, and are starting to come into being sick and needing care. My 2nd youngest son has Spina Bifida, which is one of the birth defects….

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Thank you for ringing the bell, Thomas. Agent Orange isn’t going away, neither are the victims. How long will it take each agency to recognize this?

      Be well,


      • Thomas Lucken says:

        Good question, several of us trying to bring it out anyway we can. I have 2 letters that were hand carried to the VFW National Commander, that several others and I have been distributing out. If you like a copy of the letters, give me your email address either on here or by email. Thanks.

        • David Gillaspie says:

          Here’s an idea, Thomas. Post the letter in comments here. Readers are hitting Agent Orange vs Baby Boomer Veterans hard.

  3. The VA continues to deny AO claims for service in Korea even when the veteran has served in a unit identified by DOD/VA as having been exposed during the presumptive period of time. How they can disregard the law & do whatever they want truly astounds me.

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Every voice raised makes the message more clear. Louder and louder helps. Thanks, Minnie.

    • Ron Weber says:

      Hi Minnie,

      Sorry to hear of your struggles. I just received great news for yet another Korean Veteran during the late 1960s. He just won his case. I think he is from the Mid West. Since I won my case out of Camp Casey, Korea in 2011 I have been able to help many other Korean Vets push their cases forward. Please contact me at I have tons of good information that a small group of us have been working on since 2004. Several of us have passed on, but the few left are willing and able to help you. I got real sick in December and almost “bought the farm.” But I am up and running again. Every piece of documentation I have is yours for the asking. I recently got an email from someone in New Jersey. She joked and said they were going to dedicate a road in Jersey to me and call it the “Ron Weber Memorial Hwy.” I sent her my evidence and it open the door for her husband’s claim and four or five more Korean Vets back there. I also am hearing that Korean Vets all over the country are just now starting to get the respect that the well-deserving Vietnam Vets and Vets from the Middle East are getting. I cry every time I get an email from another Korean that says, “I won, I finally won.” It makes ten years of research and hard work worth every moment. I worked with about five others for at least eight of those ten years. I think there is only two of them left alive. I am so grateful for all the help they gave me and what we did as a team. For years I was told that I was lying and was called many names. I heard over and over, statements like, “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO PULL? WE NEVER…READ MY LIPS… ‘NEVER’ SPRAYED AGENT ORANGE IN KOREA.” One guy even called me a “Disgrace to the Uniform,” for trying to cheat my way into winning a claim. As discouraged as I got, I never gave up. I just kept trying. About three weeks after the Veteran Rep said that terrible thing to me, I got a letter from the VA. I was so shaken I couldn’t speak. I kept calling and emailing people asking what the hell, “SERVICE CONNECTION” meant. They just laughed and told me I HAD WON. I cried for three days straight. I remember running all over the house screaming and yelling. “I WON, I WON.” My poor wife of forty-plus years thought I had lost my mind. That was over three years ago and I am still ecstatic about it. The door is finally opening for us after almost a half a century. Don’t give up Minnie. You are almost there.

      Ron Weber

      Ron Weber

    • David Gillaspie says:

      Check in with the other commenters, Minnie. They’ve got the ball rolling and it’s gathering steam.

  4. minnie, David is quite right. I have been raising the issue anywhere and everywhere I can….. And personally I won’t stop till it is resolved, somehow……..

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