This one sure didn’t need a panel to figure out. A pair of witching sticks would have led to the water purification device and a quick check of its machinations. Similarly, a cursory examination of the squadrons assigned to the A/C carrier would be equally dispositive of who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. Either way its going to come up VA-5, Procopio-0.
Alfred Procopio is reporting what some might politely call incredible here. He insists he worked on and maintained spraying equipment for Agent Orange on specific aircraft launched from the USS Intrepid’s decks. That would be one of the aircraft carriers on YankeeStation in the Gulf of Tonkin (north end of the bathtub), or Dixie Station to the southern end of the So. China sea adjacent to the Republic of South Vietnam where they were launching airstrikes on Hanoi Jane’s BFFs. Every aircraft right down to the name of the pilot, rank, airspeed and tail number is a matter of record. Call sign? You bet. Mission profile? Check. Ordnance and quantity? Roger that. Nobody is going to be able to fudge the make and model of the aircraft and there is no need to.
While the record does not specify what particular time period he was there, Alfred’s service folder reflects he was in the Navy from 1963 to 1967. Since history teaches us that we didn’t begin terraforming the Democratic Republic of North Vietnam (DRV) until March 2nd, 1965, I feel we can presume Almeister was there about then. What is problematic right off the bat is how much spraying was done
a) in North Vietnam
b) by the U.S Navy and;
c) specifically by large, tank-equipped US Navy aircraft launched from the decks of the USS Intrepid.
Herein lies a big problem with history yet again. Very little AO or other rainbow flavors were sprayed directly on the DRV. The majority was sprayed in the former Republic of Vietnam (RVN) and Laos. Cambodia got its fair share along its common border with the RVN around the Ho Chi Minh trail. We won’t go into Thailand, the Philippines, etc. because that isn’t germane to this discussion. Operation Trail Dust sprayed twenty million gallons on the trail. Operation Ranch Hand, a strictly USAF-operated spray program, sprayed the other 95% in theater. So the Alster is asking us to believe the USS Intrepid was involved in this and he was assigned to the outfit charged with AO air ops.
Back the boat back up to the dock, Gilligan. This should be a no-brainer. The records of large displacement hulls are extensive. If we want to know what was served for dinner on-board March 2nd, 1965, it would be annotated. Similarly, every squadron or air detachment assigned on board needed space for their birds. You don’t spray AO with F-4s and A-7s. Storing AO below decks would compete with valuable space for munitions and aviation gasoline. By rights, others would be exposed as well. Air America did some tactical spraying up country when I was there with a PC-6 Porter. That was a prop job with a max speed of about 120 knots. It was terribly inefficient but great for pesky little hilltop applications. The Navy had other fish to fry like SAM sites and interdiction-not to mention all those tempting bridge targets in downtown Haiphong. The allegation that this transpired on the Intrepid is, to say the least, incredible on its face but I wasn’t there. I’m opining. Given the Squadron name and number of this spraying outfit, assuming it wasn’t the 709th Flying Orkins, should be easy to ascertain, and to find others similarly employed who can corroborate Mr. Procopio’s claims. AO wasn’t exactly a classified operation.
The next problem isn’t Mr. Procopio’s. We all know the Haas decision fenced out the Blue water Navy from AO. We also now know that VA and the military have been less than forthcoming about where this stuff was sprayed for decades-even scores of years. It would not surprise me to learn that evaporator-style freshwater “stills” could, and did, allow picloram and dioxin (2,4,5-T) to pass through into potable supplies. VA would never admit as much. Pigs will fly sooner because if that became a finding, the Blue Water Boys would break the bank. There would go the bonuses and the VA’s legendary Human Resources Orlando Spring Breaks.
Mr. Procopio’s claim will run up on the rocks, not for the alleged water pollution claim, but rather for the allegation that spray planes were launched from the Intrepid. Simply testifying that this happened will not put the chicken in the pot. Several buddy statements won’t, either. No, Alfred, the ugly fact is that you, your attorney, or the US Navy will need to come forward with credible evidence this scenario came to pass. This is a fine time to figure this out. VA operates a two-way street apropos the duty to assist. They are not going to find anything to support your claim. It behooves you, if indeed you are legitimate, to start rounding up the usual witnesses and sober them up before testifying. DD 214s proving service aboard the carrier will need to be anally specific about MOS and duty description If your MOS says you were a cook, this dog won’t hunt.
Due diligence by VA might have put paid to these kinds of claims one way or another long before expensive, scarce judicial resources were brought in. I don’t question Mr. Procopio’s belief he is right. I question the propriety of continuing to insist on producing the evidence when it would appear there is none to bring forth. Were it there, it would be glaring and exculpatory to one party only. It may come to pass that this will end up in the Frivolous Filings folder. That would be a shame. Equally shameful would be a complete whitewash on VA’s part by failing to give credence to his contentions and not even calling in the bloodhounds.
I know only too well how many times I cried WOLF! between 1989 and 1992 to no avail. VA has a miserable track record in that regard so I will not denigrate Mr. Procopio’s claims. This is an excellent time for him to beat feet back to town and start looking for New and Material evidence to convince them.
We have reached the perfect storm at the vA. Everything is plausible-but not proven, Everything is too speculative so let’s defer it for a decade until he dies. The claim is credible-but he/she isn’t. Grant if you can-but you don’t have to because the M-21 Adjudications Manual gives you a perfect denial reason virtually every time. The Vet has a viable nexus letter from his doctor-so let’s run to the VHA and get our “expert” to rebut his. Naturally ours is more probative and had the Veteran’s records to base his reasoning on. Et cetera.
Justice was not done here today. Justice was deferred for a year. The necktie party is still on the books for 2014 when he comes back to 625 Wagonburner Ave. NW. That much is preordained. Fox Mulder said the truth is out there. Your mission, should you decide to accept it Mr. Procopio, is to find the records yourself to prove your contention. Simply sitting on your hands and claiming you won because they have not disproved your allegations, or conversely, haven’t helped prove you right will not win the day. We witnessed this phenomenon in Mr. Wayne Theofrastou’s CAVC decision when he demanded vA come up with the lot number and batch of the Gamma Globulin shots he was given in Basic-40 years ago, Helloooooooooooooooooooo?
We have not heard the last of Alfred.
I remember the sheen in the coffee, it was always in the water, remember water hours, wet down turn off, soap up, turn on and wash down luv those 3 minute showers on intrepid
The sheen in the coffee was the JP-4 mixture of kerosene and 130 AV Gas. It never burns completely when a jet goes into Afterburner on takeoff. Afterburner just dumps raw gas into the tailpipe = poor combustion. There was barely enough room to store munitions and fuel. Where in Sam Hill would you put the spray gear and all those barrels of AO? How come nobody saw any “spray-rigged” prop A/C in the hangers? Intrepid’s books don’t show any spray A/C running ops from their deck. And sir, if you think a heavy metal substance like dioxin would float out to sea 35 miles offshore at the perfect depth of 40 feet below the surface in order to be sucked up by the reverse osmosis H2O units, then I’m guessing you belong to the Flat Earth Society. I was exposed for two years. I got chloracne and Porphyria from it. I coughed up blood from inhaling the red clay dust in the propwash. What I can see is you can get the same effects from ingesting any chemical like Kerosene, Benzene, MEK, etc. Agent Orange just isn’t the culprit. Mr. Procopio has now come up with about three different ways he got it. Each time he appeals it’s a new idea for the exposure. If you did go ashore for a 3-day R&R at Vung Tau, you probably didn’t get enough in you to worry about. All my friends have DM 2 and IHD from a year or less exposure. I have neither and did two years back to back. You’d have to drink a shit ton of coffee to get prostate cancer—or— you’d be solid malignant sarcomas of the skin from all those showers.
Where can I see the Intrepid’s books? I’ve been trying to find the ships log book for 68-69. That was their last tour
Enter… The Hampster Wheel.
Thats gonna be some tough evidence to come up with. Since his testimony hasn’t been determined to be flawed, then what exactly ARE they saying? Remand why?
Why? Well, remand to find out if AO aircraft did or didn’t launch from the Intrepid. And also, find out what kind of water purification system was used on board. If the system was an evaporator rather than reverse osmosis, the theory of contamination of all ships’ potable water supplies would be open to inspection. If the Australian study holds up, a lot of Blue Water Squids are in for what’s behind door #3 in Monty’s Cookie Jar.
The Intrepid was re-fitted to be an anti-sub carrier just prior to Vietnam deployment. She kept the A-4s and the skyhawks busy over NV though. I don’t think her flight deck could do big planes after the refit…but I really don’t know, just my opinion.
This Intrepid squid says that he worked on the A-4s that flew through the affected zones when they were spraying and thus had contaminated surfaces:
I don’t doubt the aircraft had some residuals of AO but at 450 knots X 19,000 feet on the way back to the carrier, not a whole lot is going to stick. Throw in Monsoon from August to February and its zilch. I think what Mr. Procopio let slip out of his pie hole is the problem:
In response, Mr. Procopio submitted a statement indicating that, while aboard the U.S.S.
Intrepid, he “quite frequently handled [herbicides] and the aircraft and equipment that was used to
spray these chemicals” and drank “water that was pulled from the Gulf [of Tonkin] and ‘purified’
through co-distillation. . . .” He also submitted an undated study funded by the Australian
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (hereinafter the Royal Australian Navy study) indicating that
“evaporative distillation [of seawater] may allow [dioxin] to enter water supplies and to
concentrate in the distillate,” which “provides evidence that contamination via water may have been
an important pathway for contamination of [Royal Australian Navy] personnel with [dioxin] on
The little A-4s could have had mangoes and coconuts hanging from their hardpoints. 🙂