Many U.S. soldiers who served in Korea in the 1960s and 70s sprayed the lethal defoliant Agent Orange throughout Korea, a former U.S. Army captain told a National Assembly hearing on Monday.
July 27th, 2011
Phil Steward said he started asking around in 2005 and got in touch with U.S. soldiers who served in Korea during the 1960s and 70s, and they admitted that they had experience using Agent Orange across Korea. “Agent Orange didn’t stay on the DMZ. Agent Orange was sprayed through a wide, wide area of South Korea,” he said.
“We were told, ‘It’s totally safe and it won’t hurt you at all,’” he added. “We were told, ‘You can drink it, you can brush your teeth with it, or you can bathe in it. It won’t hurt you. Those were lies.”
Steward was in Korea with Steve House, another U.S. veteran who was the first to reveal that Agent Orange had been dumped at Camp Carroll in Chilgok, North Gyeongsang Province in 1978. House said for six months starting in February 1978, soldiers were ordered to dig trenches in area D at Camp Carroll two or three times a week and bury hundreds of barrels of Agent Orange that were brought in from outside. Later, all of the vegetables grown along the nearby ridges wasted away, and scores of rabbits and birds died, he added.
House said the barrels bore the labels “Chemical Type: Agent Orange,” “1967″ and “Vietnam.” The barrels were rusted and leaking and caused him and fellow soldiers to suffer from skin rashes and heavy coughing. House, who served as a heavy machinery operator at Camp Carroll for one year added he could “probably pinpoint the correct site” if he was able to visit the base.
He presented as evidence a photo of the trench that was dug at the U.S. military base back in 1978.
House and Steward suffer from diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, glaucoma, skin rashes and other diseases known to be caused by Agent Orange. “I’m running out of time. It’s up to you to take it the rest of the way, so we can get some answers for the Korean people and the Americans who were exposed to this stuff,” House said as he wiped away tears.
Phil Steward (left) and Steve House offer their testimony at a National Assembly hearing in Seoul on Monday on the use of Agent Orange at American military bases in Korea. /Yonhap