Alexander the Great cutting the Gordian Knot

Trust another Zoomie to come up with a better way to skin a cat. Meet Member Karen- formerly of the Zoomer profession herself- and married to a Thailand  groundpounder with all kinds of Orange Fertilizer problems. Karen has cut the Gordian Knot many of us encountered when we arrived to fight the war in Krong Thai, which is how we said it there. In fact Thai means “free” and that is, in essence, what Karen has done.

Being on the other side of some magical fence, we were never accorded the presumption of exposure to the stuff. In fact, in order not to ruffle the feathers of the King, our ambassador advised the military not to spray the stuff anywhere in Thailand unless it was an absolute necessity to insure base security. In that event, the military was instructed to refer to it as a “tactical herbicide” akin to Tordon 101 (Agent White) or some of the other “benign” flavors of what we call Roundup nowadays.  Calling it a tactical herbicide preserved the fig leaf of respectability but all parties knew full well it was the magic fertilizer. I also saw a lot of barrels of A Blue. They were marked Cacodylic Acid and a few other ingredients I can’t remember now.

Most do not know but Agent Orange doesn’t “kill” vegetation. It’s a massive dose of amphetamine and the plant feels impelled to grow like Jack’s famous beanstalk-immediately. The cell structure quickly breaks down under the overload and the plant dies thinking it has just begun to be all it can be.

The Gordian Knot that Alexander the Great solved by cutting is the enigma of how we all arrived in Thailand. VA would have us believe we materialized like the doomooflotchie on Star Trek. ” Aye, Cap’n. Beaming down landing party of nine to Don Muang Airpatch. On their way.” We all remember something different if we were Army, Air Force and sometimes the odd Marine. Our memory began a day and a half earlier in San Francisco. Most of us reported to Military Air Transport Service (MATS) at Travis Air Force Base. There we boarded a spartan, stripped down 707 leased from World Airways. This would also be the last time a lot of us saw a roundeye for a year.

World Airways had intermediary stops as needed for fuel. As was customary, refueling requires deplaning. From Travis, my flight landed in Honolulu. Next stop was Guam. A short hop to Yakota AB in Japan, on to Clark AB in Manila and then the final leg down to Saigon. Again, deplaning was required for refueling. Up until about the time of the Parrot’s Beak intrusion into Cambodia (March 1970), World Airways usually flew on to Bangkok and landed at Don Muang Air Base to the north of the city.

Saigon to Bangkok

Saigon to Bangkok. left click with your cursor on it  to magnify

Looking at the map. one can see the problem of flying over the battle. With the 707’s abysmal climb capability, it had a hard time making it up to 20,000 feet before crossing over the thick of the battle. The border was barely 130 klics away and Phnom Penh was only another 50. In order to avoid any problems with SAMs, a C-130 Klong Flight was introduced and made the trip twice daily.

Essentially, everyone had boots on the ground in the most real sense.  Yep. Boots on the PSP or concrete at Tan Son Nhut Air Patch. This satisfies the codicil of who was or was not “boots on the ground”. It makes no difference you were there for an hour of two once when you arrived and again when you left. The point was that you “touched” the land mass of the Republic of South Vietnam and thus were presumptively exposed.

Karen did what I never had to. She excavated that link by several different avenues and then found the decisions at the Board of Veterans Appeals Website and downloaded them as well. I was sent TDY back to Saigon in July 1970  after sailing through in May and had kept my orders showing proof of boots on land then. Before I found the TDY orders, I had been contemplating what Karen did but that was back in 1994. Internet access to that kind of thing would have been a real stroke of luck if I even had had a clue how to.

imagesWhat this means for John Q. Thailand Vet is glaringly obvious. We’ve been playing their simple-minded game for about a decade while mincing what the meaning of “tactical herbicide” is. All this time, VA has known full well what we knew. Everyone, with the exception of squids who sailed over on their boats, had to have landed at Tan Son Nhut and thus fulfilled the requirement that s/he touch red clay to join the Nehmer class. Of course, none of us could produce a boarding pass for this airplane flight so we were shit out of luck to prove that we did take a smoke break in a war zone. As an aside, legally speaking, I think we should all be accorded a bye on lay testimony to that effect based on Layno v. Brown ( anything that comes to you via your five senses is admissible). The sign (above) was right there in front of our eyes. The civilian terminal even had huge, red neon letters you could see from two miles out-at night.

Here’s the link to the BVA win based on the World Airways theory. This decision relied on the Pan Am flights but the technique is identical.

Here’s the .jpgs  for all the pilots and attendants who flew us.

WAirways Pilot

WA 2

testimony (pilot)testimony 2And here is another one I found.

Here is the link to AO being sprayed around Sattahip and U-Tapao via the CHECO reports.

Karen is wisely doubling down on her husband’s claim. In addition to the World Airways path, she is also going for residual perimeter duty exposure. She has three buddy letters of confirmation of duties on perimeter. She also has the complete, unredacted CHECO report and if she doesn’t, it’s above underneath the VCM medal.

This finally solves the conundrum of how we all arrived in Thailand absent alien abduction. VA is not going to like the floodgates to open on this and let another million or so Vets through the door. They really shouldn’t worry as they are getting off lightly. Think how many already died without getting this presumption.

Thailand Veterans, start your keyboards. And a warm thank you to Karen for her hard work that others might win as well. I’m telling you guys. These women are carrying the water more and more nowadays and making you look lazy.

About asknod

VA claims blogger
This entry was posted in AO, Medical News, Nexus Information, Thailand AO presumptive path, Tips and Tricks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Angela S. says:

    I’m making my mother’s claim right now for earlier effective date of her DIC. I can’t access the link to the BVA case based on the World Airways theory… Can you please repost, reply or email it to me?

    Thank you for your service, thank you for your hard work here 🙂

  2. Ray Reid says:

    Am in fight with VA on exposure while at NKP Thailand March 1970 to Aug 1971. Do not have any boarding pass or other type proof of flight from US to Thailand. Requested a copy of all my records and there is nothing in them to indicate any travel to or from Thailand. Do you know of any other method of proving the route traveled? Oddly there are no travel orders in my file either.

    • asknod says:

      Got your yellow shot book? I used that one several times for Vets. Any TDY orders you might have kept? I have pictures of NKP taken in 70 on final approach and some from several years ago. The difference is a no brainer. 1970 looks like a nape strike. 2009 looks like another airport entirely. email me at and I’ll send you the photos.

      • Ray Reid says:

        No shot record nor TDY Orders. Have some pics of 1970 at NKP. Here is my situation. Signed up for VA and was advised to take the AO Test administered by VA. Took test. My civilian doctors have been treating me for Ischemic Heart Disease, Diabetes Type 2, Periphirial Neuropathy, and Stage 2 Kidney Disease. The AO Test came back as all illnesses most likely caused by exposure. Since then the VA has waived all co-pays for doctors and prescriptions. Also provided glasses, hearing aides and shoes free. Claim is now in hands of DRO at Regional VA and awaiting their decision.

        • Ray Reid says:

          Also there is nothing in my claim stating went to Vietnam. Do not have any duty performed on perimeter at NKP but did work on flight line. Have 1 buddy statement and photos showing hootch area was within the 500 meter range of the perimeter, as well as flight line. My claim for diseases listed also included loss of hearing. The VA is now having a civilian audio test done, this is my 3rd with 2 previously done by VA and their providing hearing aids after 2nd test. It is damn frustration that the VA medical side will verify illnesses and in their opinion what caused them but the compensation side wants to deny, deny, deny until you die.

          • asknod says:

            You can win the AO claim but it will be a long road to the BVA to do so. VA is fighting every one of us on it but we win via perseverance-if we live long enough. I don’t think you could find a place on NKP (or Udorn) that was 500 meters away from a sprayed area anyway.

        • asknod says:

          Think back on how you got there,Ray. I went through Tan Son Nhut from Yakota. Then we transferred over to a 130 into Don Muang. If you have the approximate time you went over, it’s now possible to pull up the World Airways flight number and show it landed there in Saigon. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat.

  3. Billy Endress says:

    I know my Oct 67 flight to Bangkok from Travis also did not stop in Vietnam. We made a stop in Alaska and one in I Okinawa before landing in Bangkok. Also no stop over during the return flight a year later in Oct 68.

    • asknod says:

      Impossible. A 707 in 1967 could fly 3500-3700 miles max. The distance from Anchorage Alaska to Okinawa is 4397.02 miles and you would have to skirt the Kamchatka Peninsula by 200 miles to avoid Russia. A 727 could only go 2400-2700 miles. Besides, why would a W/A pilot lie about where they flew from and to? Seems you’d need some external tanks to make this work. Maybe you slept through part of it.

      • Billy Endress says:

        . Calm down askod. No one is accusing anyone of lying about anything.. I know we never set down in RVN that’s for sure. I remember the pilot saying we were over it. Not all of us landed in RVN going or coming from Thailand.. I know that for a fact. Some did and some didn’t. You plot the course, I don’t claim to be not a aeronautical navigator

        • asknod says:

          Don’t misunderstand me, Mr. Endress. I am not calling you a liar. Perhaps you disremember some of this. It’s physically impossible to make a 707 do what you imply. I would agree with you if you said it stopped at Yakota. That would be far more likely as well as a physical possibility.

          We are attempting to create a path for Veterans to obtain service connection for presumptive AO exposure legally. You are the second soul I’ve had contact with who claims a different flight plan. Yours, however, is unique in that it exceeds the abilities of the aircraft by a whopping 900 miles. Considering you’re flying into a headwind going that way (west), 3500 miles is a generous estimate under the best of circumstances.

          • Billy says:

            I didn’t say you called me a liar, what I said is that you said my statement implied those that know they had landed in RVN are saying those that did are lying. Not true. I accept them at their word that the landed, just know for a fact both my flights did not. Have no idea what our flight path was, but again, my flights never landed in RVN and I know I didn’t sleep through it.

  4. Karen S says:

    I can be reached at Feel free to email me there. Mary, do you know if your husband stopped in Vietnam? Mike, have you seen your roommate’s decision?

  5. Mary Krutz says:

    Thank you Karen for all of your work. My husband was stationed in Takhli 1966 and worked on the B-66 although he was trained as a flight mechanic on the F-105. Is there any information that you have on herbicide usage there during that time? Also Bill went to Yakota AFB first from the US. He left out of Seatle. Would the stop over in Vietnam apply to him too? Thank you.

  6. Mike Keifer says:

    Good Luck with that. I did fly World airlines and never touched down in Ton Son Nuht or Saigon in Fact we landed in Bangkok took a bus to the Continental Hotel in Bangkok at 3 AM and left on bus to Don Muang and caught a 123 to Utapao. Upon Arrival at UT we spent a couple days in a hootch before moving into the cement barracks by the airmens club ( MMS ). I was assigned to the preload section of MMS next to the outer perimeter and even walked through the aforementioned various Herbicides Orange,White,Purple,Red and also sprayed every 2 hours during the day with Insecticide DDT. In the Age area on the bomber side is where the turbine sprayer for the spraying of the herbicides and insecticide was kept and maintained and we walked through this Crap everyday. Also on the backside of the age area is where different drums of this stuff was stored along with a fuel depot so when you had to refuel for the days loading mission you were exposed. With all this presented to the Almighty VA I have been denied twice and now I am working on my appeal. My roommate from there is getting 100% total disability and I am not so where is the equal justice. This why I said Good Luck with That ( Mike Super Troop Keifer) also when to try to register onto hadit the damn thing does not work

  7. Karen S says:

    My Brother Zoomie, I learned from the best. In all things, I defer to you.

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