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Use of Agent Orange in Korea

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Page Contents:

  • Agent Orange Use In Korea

  • Ron Reigstad Claim

  • Personal Experiences of Veterans

Agent Orange

"VA does have significant information regarding Agent Orange use in Korea along the DMZ. DoD has confirmed that Agent Orange was used from April 1968 up through July 1969 along the DMZ. DoD defoliated the fields of fire between the front line defensive positions and the south barrier fence. The size of the treated area was a strip of land 151 miles long and up to 350 yards wide from the fence to north of the "civilian control line." There is no indication that herbicide was sprayed in the DMZ itself.

Herbicides were applied through hand spraying and by hand distribution of pelletized herbicides. Although restrictions were put in place to limit potential for spray drift, run-off, and damage to food crops, records indicate that effects of spraying were sometimes observed as far as 200 meters down wind.  Units in the area during the period of use of herbicide were as follows:

The four combat brigades of the 2nd Infantry Division, including the following units:

  • a) 1-38 Infantry
  • b) 2-38 Infantry
  • c) 1-23 Infantry
  • d) 2-23 Infantry
  • e) 3-23 Infantry
  • f) 3-32 Infantry
  • g) 109th Infantry
  • h) 209th Infantry
  • i) 1-72 Armor
  • j) 2-72 Armor
  • k) 4-7th Cavalry

Also, the 3rd Brigade of the 7th Infantry Division, including the following units:

  • a) 1-17th Infantry
  • b) 2-17th Infantry
  • c) 1-73 Armor
  • d) 2-10th Cavalry

Field Artillery, Signal, and Engineer troops were supplied as support personnel as required. The estimated number of exposed personnel is 12,056.

Unlike Viet Nam, exposure to Agent Orange is not presumed for veterans who served in Korea. Claims for compensation for disabilities resulting from Agent Orange exposure from veterans who served in Korea during this period will be developed for evidence of exposure. If the veteran was exposed the presumptive conditions found for Agent Orange exposure apply."

Source: Gary D. Moore, 5161 Howard Road, Smiths Creek, MI 48074-2023, USA.  Website:

Ron Reigstad Claim

According to an article in the October 2014 VFW Magazine, DMZ veteran Ron Reigstad of Minneapolis, Minnesota, received a ruling from the VA for a service-connected disability.  It was the first time a post 1971 Korea veteran had received such a ruling.  Reigstad served in Korea as a combat engineer from 1975 to 1977.

Stressing the need for a properly developed claim with a strong medical opinion. VFW  National Veterans Service Deputy Director Derald T. Manar said that Reigstad, "served in an area previously sprayed with herbicides, and his job required him to not only walk upon the earth but to dig it up."  With the help of Tom Hanson of Post 7639 in Willmar, Minnesota, the VA granted a service-connected disability rating for diabetes mellitus, Type II, and peripheral neuropathy.

Personal Experiences of Veterans

Letter to VFW - 20 April 2014

To: Commander, National Headquarters, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Thru: Commander, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Commander, District 12, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Subject: Dioxin (Agent Orange) Long Term Residual Effects Korean DMZ

Two months ago, I found out that I have Adult Diabetes Type 2, which is one of the many side effects of Dioxin exposure. I already knew many veterans who have served in Vietnam and Korea suffer from not just this side effect but many others. I have discussed with other veterans who have also served in Korea, in particular those who have also served up on the DMZ north of Freedom Bridge/Imjin-gak (River). Many of these veterans also suffer not only from Diabetes, but many of the other side effects of Dioxin exposure.

Agent Orange was used in Korea from approximately 1968 to 1971. Those that served in Korea at that time are the only ones who are acknowledged to have had exposure to Dioxin. It does not cover those that were exposed afterward, where it resides in the dirt for many years to come.

From 1971 to 1991 we still had Troops running patrols, manning Guard Posts, and Observation Posts in the American Sector (11 Mile Stretch) after the use of AO. Our final troops exited Vietnam by 1975 and they are covered in the Zone for Agent Orange. But, in Vietnam we did not naturally get a chance to see the effects of Dioxin exposure in the ground to those Veterans. In Korea, many of us believe we were exposed to it through the 70s and 80s due to aliments we now suffer from.

The US Government/VA needs to look at supporting and caring for these Veterans who are suffering from the side effects caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The Government needs to determine and accept that Dioxins remained in the area/ground well after its use and not just during. We exposed these Troops to an unsafe environment and now they suffer from it in sickness/illnesses, and in some cases death. I believe you will find in most cases, it has taken several years for the illnesses to appear, quite similar to those who were exposed to Agent Orange when it was used in Vietnam.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars membership rules changed several years ago, to allow those who have served in Korea since 1953 to become members of the VFW. Now as the VFW it is our mission to support these Troops that are affected, make it known that they are just as important as Veterans, as our other Veterans are that have served in combat zones! They too served a mission that was difficult on the DMZ, that was real, and sometimes was deadly. Serving on the Korean DMZ and running missions, were not training but a real world situation. These Troops lives were on the line constantly, under the threat of the north. Whether it was being shot at randomly, ambushed by roaming NK soldiers, avoiding minefields that were and are still in place! These Troops were and still are our fellow brothers who deserve to be given equal treatment for their service. A service that many never knew that really existed and/or accepted. Now we as members of the VFW need to see them given the recognition for a duty that was unforgiving, and make the rest of our members and all US Citizens aware of it. They are our brothers and should not be forgotten!

From 1972 to 1991, approximately 50,000 troops have served in the American Sector of the DMZ, and that is a conservative number! For the VA to see an issue/trend here is very limited due to relatively small number of veterans who have served there. With DMZ veterans spread in 50 states, territories, working, living, and retired overseas, and in some cases have passed on, it is hard to see that there is a trend/issue. That is why I ask the Veterans of Foreign Wars to stand up and help these veterans who need it now and never have been recognized for their efforts and their sickness from exposure to Agent Orange.

Last, just for the record. Not only am I currently active with my VFW Post here, but I am a Past Commander of Freedom Bridge Memorial Post 9985, Tongduchon, Republic of Korea. My info is: 831 W Jefferson, Vandalia, IL 62471; phone: 618-204-8391; email:

(signed) Thomas J. Lucken, Senior Vice Commander, VFW Post 9770, Brownstown, IL

Letter to VFW - 1 May 2014

To: Commander, National Headquarters, Veterans of Foreign Wars

Thru: Commander, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign Wars
Commander, District 12, Department of Illinois, Veterans of Foreign War

Subject: Dioxin (Agent Orange) Long Term Residual Effects Korean DMZ (Continuation Letter)

This is to add to my previous letter I sent on April 20, 2014. My son John H. Lucken, who is a member of VFW Post 9770, suffers from Spinal Bifida, a birth defect from those who were exposed to Agent Orange and its Dioxins. A birth defect that is define by the VA.

John was born on July 17, 1989 at 121st Evac Hospital, Yongsan, Korea. John's mother is Korean from the north part of the ROK. Her name is Mun, Yong-Cha! John's spinal bifida is on record with the VA besides dealing with PTSD from Afghanistan 2009.

Would I know that my service would come back to haunt him even more, then me! My info is: 831 W Jefferson, Vandalia, IL 62471; phone: 618-204-8391; email:

(signed) Thomas J. Lucken, Senior Vice Commander, VFW Post 9770, Brownstown, IL

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