I have worked with Karen in Florida for a long time on this. Kurt Priessman excavated a large number of CHECO Reports and ‘lost’ pages over the years which fleshed out the rather dubious military/VA insistence on the use of the term “tactical herbicides” and the equally undocumented claim no 2,4 D/2,4,5 T ever was sprayed in Thailand. As far as I’m concerned, about the only thing that was never sprayed was “tactical herbicides”.
We were a power unto ourselves in Thailand. We operated at the pleasure of the King of Thailand but we reported to our own. What we used to spray our base perimeters with was what was available. When Ranch Hand shut down in 1970-71 in RVN, there were large stores of it left over. The military was fiscally challenged and used what they had in-theatre. We did not ship Agent White (Tordon 101) to Thailand to use there exclusively.
I know for a fact we used Agent Blue almost exclusively at Long Tieng, Luang Prabang and Tango 11 in NW Thailand. Take a look at this picture of Detachment B, 7th Radio Research Field Station. It looked like this 24/7/365 for the sixteen months I was there (11/70-5/72). Quite simply, nothing of consequence grew on the two hundred acres. It was hand-sprayed by truck once a month. There weren’t even any mosquitoes out there. That’s a shit ton of Roundup.
I have had numerous discussions with Veterans who claimed they flew thousands of miles further than a 707 could ever hope to- even with a 1,000 knot per hour tailwind. Simply put, the argument boils down to “How do you get to Thailand without touching the red clay of the Republic of South Vietnam? I know several ways but they involved having pilot’s wings, an F-4D or C-130 and a KC -135 tanker.
In my two years there, every trip(4) I took back and forth involved touching down at Tan Son Nhut Air Base and deplaning. Troops assigned in-country deplaned for that purpose. Since the aircraft (most often a World Airways 707) departed either Travis AFB in California or McChord AFB in Washington, they could not make the flight without a refueling stop en route. Even more obviously, not everyone heading to their fun-filled one year all-expenses-paid vacation in Southeast Asia were destined for Vietnam. A large number went to Thailand as well. Since World Airways loadmasters did not schedule full load-outs to Bangkok exclusively, the interim stop of choice was Saigon’s Tan Son Nhut. Everyone deplaned for a smoke break as refueling rules were inviolate. Forty minutes later, Don Muang RTAFB (Bangkok) air travelers replaned and continued their trip there.
After we began our Cambodian Intrusion in May 1970, it became difficult to make the climb out to Bangkok from Tan Son Nhut and have sufficient altitude to avoid ground fire . Air time from TSN to Don Muang was 40 minutes or less. The Air Force then instituted C-130″Klong” flights that made regular trips up and down the country to several “hubs” as well as back and forth from Bangkok every day. They had no problem gaining sufficient altitude by the time they crossed over into Cambodian airspace.
In Thailand, the Klong flight began in the morning in Bangkok and departed to Korat, then Ubon, on to Nakon Phanom and ended at Udorn. In the afternoon, the same happened in reverse. Regular connector flights to Korat and Takhli ended when Takhli closed in 1970. When things really started hopping in early 1970, there were two klong flights going in reverse directions from Udorn to Don Muang daily simultaneously.
By 1971, if you wanted to travel to Japan from Thailand, it was Udorn to Don Muang and then to Tan Son Nhut. There you waited and caught the Klong flight that stopped at Phan Rang, Cam Ranh Bay, Tuy Hoa, Nha Trang and lastly, Da Nang. Think of it as a public bus system. You got off at Cam Ranh and took the C-130 to Clark AFB in the Philippines. From there you continued on to Yokota AB outside Tokyo because Tachikawa AB was shut down in late 1968. Unless you paddled, you flew this route.
Regardless, World Airways was the way in and out for most of us until we began to roll up our presence there in 1972. There are exceptions to every situation but these are extremely rare.
Airplanes are limited in how much they can carry in gas and personnel. A 707-120 at max takeoff weight could only fly 2,300 miles. Unlike cars, you can’t just run out and pull over to the side and go get some more gas- especially over the Pacific Ocean. It was over 3,500 miles from Alaska to Tokyo which only the 707-320s could hack. From McChord, it was 4,763. From Travis, north of San Francisco, it was 5,148 statute miles. I flew from Travis and we stopped twice. Once in Honolulu and again at Anderson AFB in Guam. From Tokyo to Saigon it was 2,691. From Anderson to Saigon was 2,571. As World Airways mostly flew 707-120s, the math tells us they had to land at Saigon to avoid flameout. Since the chances of a complete planeload of troops going from Yakota or Anderson to Bangkok was about nil, everything naturally terminated at Saigon and dispersed accordingly. VA seems to think our boots magically never contacted the PSP at Saigon and we were safely protected against any AO exposure. It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out how many potential Nehmer class Veterans there would be if we included every Tom, Dick or Harry who went to Thailand via Tan Son Nhut. VA calculated there were 2.9 million of us who “were there”. Add in the Thailand component and we’re probably talking 10 million from 1961 to 1975. Remember, all you had to do to get the magic “presumptive was ‘touch’ land be it runway, PSP or laterite.
And now we finally have a brave Veteran’s widow who is going to show that her deceased husband could not have possessed twinkletoes and danced through the air without coming to rest on the tarmac at Cam Ranh Bay or Tan Son Nhut. Jenny’s got their number. This is how you win a VA claim-with maps and the size of a gas tank. VA can’t beat that evidence. They can’t make a 707 do what is aerodynamically impossible- to fly through the air on fumes. I do so hope she finds and reads this.
I guess I better contact Robert Legg, Esq. and explain geography to him in case he hasn’t figured it out. And now that Jenny’s a widow, I’d give some serious consideration to taking a pair of scissors to that name. It’s longer than the Mississippi River. What is it with all these folks who want to make their last names read like an Ancestry.com© advertisement? There may not be very many of us left by the time VA caves in and grants presumptive for herbicides of any flavor in Thailand/Guam/Okinawa/Clark but I see it in the future. I have yet to see anyone discuss the term “Augmentation duty”-something virtually every one of in the Air Force did shortly after arrival. I’ll give you three guesses where you were assigned and it wasn’t to the bar downtown off base. That, for sure, should be a “presumptive” from the get-go.