How it Began
Agents Orange’s story in Vietnam begins in 1961 and the Kennedy administration as they were hearing reports from the field by troops and their difficulty to fight an enemy they can’t see. Just a year into his administration John F. Kennedy was eager to stop the spread of communism and to keep Vietnam and the indo-china peninsula from falling into communist hands. He was against sending in troops, favoring the use of counter insurgency tools like Agent Orange. With the help of James Brown of the United States Army Chemical Warfare Center, Kennedy authorized the begging of the “Ranch Hand” program and the testing of defoliation agents in Vietnam. Although these tests in Vietnam were mixed on the tactical effectiveness of Agent Orange and similar chemicals, by 1962 Operation “Ranch Hand” was fully implemented as a Counter-Insurgency operation in Vietnam. Throughout the next 10 years over 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides would be sprayed over parts of the Indochina Peninsula killing thousands of acres of dense vegetation. Hundreds of spraying missions, carried out mainly by planes flying over head but also by helicopters and hand sprayers, would be authorized in order to defoliate areas which were believed to hold enemy camps or strategic positions. And they would soon realize The chemical would do just as much harm to their own troops as the enemy troops like it did to James Burdge and countless other American Soldiers.