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Agent Orange

US Military History Throughout The Years

Short bits of history you know and some you may not!

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  • Be All You Can Be: Thursday, January 11, 2001 – In an unexpected move the US Army unveils its newest slogan. After criticism of only advertising during male only televised sports, the Army broadcast its newest commercial during the airing of a new Friends episode. The move was to engage a wider audience, and to help shake to image of an all male fighting force. The new slogan ” An Army of One” would replace “Be All You Can Be” and would only last till 2006. It would be replaced with “Army Strong”, which would be the slogan for over a decade.
  • Operation Chopper: Friday, January 12, 1962 – In the first helicopter assault of the Vietnam War, and the first time US Troops would be involved in a combat mission in the war, over 1,000 South Vietnamese paratroopers were dropped into combat by 33 CH-21C Shawnee transport helicopters. The paratroopers were inserted near a Viet Cong stronghold 10 miles west of Saigon and would soundly defeat the enemy with complete surprise. The helicopters were part of a growing concept formed during the Korean War and would become a new sort of calvary in the US Military. While much was learned by the US during the operation, the enemy would quickly learn much as well and both would use those lessons learned to great effect later in the war.
  • Operation Ranch Hand: Friday, January 12, 1962 – The US Military launches an operation that would see lasting effects to this very day. The operations intent was to take away the Viet Cong’s ability to use the jungle as a place of cover and concealment as well as to deprive them of food sources within Vietnam. To do this the military would spray and drop around 20 million gallons of defoliants and herbicides, mainly in the form of the infamous Agent Orange. For 10 years planes would drop chemicals to kill the vegetation across the jungle and farmland where the enemy was thought or known to operate. The US was inspired to use this method to fight the enemy by the British, who had done something similar in the 1950’s during the Malayan Emergency. The US Air Force would spread the chemicals using primarily C-123 aircraft, spreading 1,000 gallons per a plane in less than 5 minutes on top of the target area. The impact of the operation was both psychological and strategic, with the effectiveness of the chemicals influenced by the weather and terrain. It would only take the Air Force a few passes over the target area to effectively kill all vegetation in the target area for a whole year, if not longer. While the operation had short term effects on the enemies ability to operate its long term impact on the area was much greater. Vietnamese people in the targeted areas would flee in mass during and after the war, with as many as 4.8 million people directly exposed to Agent Orange. 3 million people in Vietnam are estimated to have had their health impacted, with 150,000 children born with severe birth defects. 24% of Vietnam was also defoliated due to the chemicals dropped and 2.6 million US Military members were also exposed to the chemicals, with hundreds of thousands being eligible for treatment due to illness caused by exposure.

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