Years after the war, the US Army continued to use the cargo planes that once sprayed Agent Orange (AO) in Vietnam to transport their soldiers, without notifying them of the risks associated with the toxic defoliant.

The Washington Post on August 4 said nearly three dozen rugged C-123 transport planes that formed the backbone of the US military’s campaign to spray AO over jungles during the Vietnam War were still flown on cargo missions until 1982 when the last aircraft was retired.

Entitled “Agent Orange’s reach beyond the Vietnam War”, the article unveiled that from 1975 to 1982, about 1,500 Air National Guard and Reserve crew members flew on the C-123s, and many of them may have been made sick by postwar contamination.

The problem is that no notification of the potential risks was given to the soldiers who flew on the C-123s or those working at a storage facility on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona State .

“The right thing to do would have been to tell the veterans of the exposures so that health and well-being as well as rights to seek veterans’ benefits would all be protected,” said Wes Carter, a retired Air Force major who served aboard a C-123 as a medical service officer in the US for a decade.

Some US senators said they would investigate the irresponsible use of these planes, according to the article. Author Steve Vogel, however, said the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) asserted that any postwar contamination on the planes from 1962 to 1971 as part of Operation Ranch Hand was not high enough to be linked to any disease s.

The US Air Force aborted plans to sell some of the planes in 1996 after evidence surfaced that 18 of them might still be contaminated with AO/dioxin. In 2010, it destroyed 18 of the Vietnam-era aircrafts because of concerns about potential liability.

Operation Ranch Hand caused many consequences and diseases felt by Vietnamese people and US soldiers. To date, US veterans have filed 260,000 cases for compensation.

The VA, however, is committed to reviewing claims on a “case-by-case” basis only.-VNA