Brown Water Update: VA updates list of Vietnam Navy ships exposed to Agent Orange

By Ken Olsen

(Copyright 2011/ All Rights Reserved) 

The VA has finally posted an expanded list of U.S. Navy ships exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The so-called Brown Water ships list comes a year after U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii chided the agency for failing to obtain key military records that showed sailors on the ships were presumed exposed to the toxic herbicide.

The updated list — which is not complete — was supposed to be available Aug. 1. The agency has not offered an explanation for the delay.

Akaka’s staff found hundreds of cases in which VA regional offices across the country did not request the deck logs from the National Archives before rejecting Agent Orange claims from  Vietnam Navy veterans.  The senator, then chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, asked VA to review the cases of sailors whose claims appear to have been inappropriately rejected.

VA expanded the list of oceangoing Navy vessels presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange from 150 to 170 ships, in part because of information Akaka’s staff provided.

As of April, the VA had reexamined about 6,700 of the 16,820 cases Akaka called to the agency’s attention, said Tom Pamperin, deputy undersecretary for disability assistance. Many will receive disability compensation and medical care for illnesses connected to Agent Orange exposure. VA has not said when it will complete its review of all 16,820 cases.

For the full story see Brown Water Bungle: Paperwork error excluded hundreds of Vietnam Navy veterans from receiving Agent Orange Benefits.

Ken Olsen is a frequent contributor to The American Legion Magazine, where the story about the Brown Water Bungle first appeared.  For other stories and information about U.S. veterans and Agent Orange exposure see these other Veterans Voices stories: Brown Water Bungle: Paperwork error excluded hundreds of Vietnam Navy veterans from receiving Agent Orange Benefits;  Sailors Adrift: The Lingering Tragedy of Agent Orange  and Still Adrift as well as Toxic Legacy: A Brief History of Agent Orange Exposure in Vietnam.

About Veterans' Voices

Veterans Voices is produced by Ken Olsen, a freelance writer and author who frequently writes about military families and veterans issues for national magazines
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22 Responses to Brown Water Update: VA updates list of Vietnam Navy ships exposed to Agent Orange

  1. Larry A Pinkerton says:

    I have a sHort question…I served aboard the USS IWO JIMA Lph-2 off Vietnam in 1966-67.Being a ship serviceman, working in the laundry, Could we have been exposed by handling the clothes of the marines aboard ship. We had to wash and dry bloody uniforms, with body parts from the operating room aboard ship. The Iwo isn’t listed on the ships list from VA.

    Has anyone ever ask this question before about agent orange exposure? thanks
    Larry A Pinkerton SH-3


    • Don (Tex) Railey SH-3 Us Navy 1958 to 1966. says:

      Larry, If you served in any port off Vietnam..buddy you were exposed..All Naval ships desalinated the salt waters to fresh water and those desalinations did not remove the chemicals such as Agent Orange. You showered, washed laundry, drank, and your chow was cooked in it. Use your DD214 and the history of the USS Iwo Jima to see if you and your crew qualify as “Brown Water” vets. I served inland waters of Da Nang Habor and the Navy says that Agent Orange contaminated waters in some areas several miles off shore..Check it out..Do you suffer from any of the conditions listed? My ship the USS Magoffin APA 199 is not listed either but her history in the Naval archives place her there and my DD214 puts me on board during the time frames needed to qualify, 1965/1966. I have a case under review..Don, Tex Railey Sh-3 (Ship’s barber and store operator)


    • I have been turned down for diabetes 2 np because I didn’t prove I was a certain ship at a certain time, any ideas,,dd214 and medals was not good enough..should I go the lawyer route?


  2. JIM BARSANTI says:



  3. Tom M. says:

    To bad the VA doesn’t read it’s own information. After 4 years of pain, the VA is still denying my AO exposure claims while aboard the USS Belle Grove LSD-2 Nam 65 and they don’t want to believe there own web site list when I send them a copy in response to their denials.


  4. william smith says:

    uss james e kyes 68 to 69


  5. says:

    i was on the uss advance mso 510 69-70 after fighting the va for almost 10 years I recivied 80 percent,6months later they took 40 percent back.some one made a mistake .I watched the air force drop 2 planes a day it was orange.we were on a maritime patrol .we could see land all the time while on patrol


    • Mike Kantner says:

      Did you get deck log to prove boots on ground? My husband has cardiac problems relating to AO and has been told he needs this proof. He was on 510 1968-1968. If you were able to obtain ships log please let us know what to do.


  6. frank muchie says:

    I have agent orange and the good oid va still don’t want to help the veterans that need the help ,forget about the brown water. Where did the claims go for agent orange that we are waiting for.years have gone by an still no payment where is our chance to live a better life.Lets stop playing games with veterans This is not the same as a va claim this is exposure to a killer and more and more of us veterans are dying we need help now and I MEAN NOW. WHO OUT THERE IS GOING TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE AN HELP US.


  7. Lee Courtney says:

    I have a copy of the decks log from my destroyer, USS Henderson DD785 showing that it was in Da Nang harbor executing firing missions in March of 1970. It is not on your expanded list. The logs even state that 785 was alongside the Henry B Wilson DDG-7 which is on your list but does not list the Wilson for March 8 1970. Why is the Henderson not listed at all or the Wilson for 1970.


    • Veterans' Voices says:

      The Brown Water list is compiled by the VA — I’m only linking to their roster of ships the agency acknowledges were in waters potentially contaminated as a result of the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. As the news coverage indicates, many believe the VA’s list of qualifying ships is incomplete at best.


  8. floyd kelly says:

    mine sweep boats MSB 15 months, PCF 7 months PBR 3 and two tours on a ATF doing salvage jobs. That is 7 campaigns in NAM and can not get treated for in body fungal what is slowing killing me.


  9. Clayton Andrew Coker says:

    I,Clayton A.Coker, were Brown Warer sailor exposed to Agent Orange on the USS Sproston DD-577 in the month of Jan 1966 up the Mekong River Delta, also while in the water of Ganh Rai Bay. I also need HELP In a Claim. Asking fellow sailors to help and get in touch. My heath is also going fast.


  10. Richard P. Molinari 739532 says:

    Not so much a reply but another question. I serve with the US Navy as a member of the Fleet Command Advisory Group. As such I was assigned to a Vietnamese gun motor boat as the adviser to the commanding officer of that boat. For the life of me I can’t recall the hull number but the name of the boat was Tay Sha. Our Primary work was to search the fishing junks that worked the rivers in the Rung Sat Special Zone in the heart of the delta. I was the only American aboard for 10 months


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