The day after 19-year-old Sgt. Leroy Foster arrived on Guam's Andersen Air Force Base, one of America's largest Pacific military installations, in 1968, he was assigned to what his superior officers called "vegetation control duties."
"I mixed diesel fuel with Agent Orange then I sprayed it by truck all over the base to kill the jungle overgrowth. None of the older service members wanted to do the work so because I was the low man on the totem pole, it was left to me," Foster told The Japan Times.
Within days of starting the assignment, Foster developed pustules and boils all over his body that were so severe he bled through his bed linen. Then during the following years he fell ill with a litany of sicknesses, including Parkinson's and ischemic heart disease, that he believes were caused by the highly toxic herbicides he was ordered to spray. Foster also contends that Agent Orange's dioxins — long proven to damage successive generations' health — have also affected his daughter, who had to undergo cancer treatment as a teenager, and his grandchild, who was born with 12 fingers, 12 toes and a heart murmur.