Gerry LLoyd, 1968-1969
It was common to see aircraft passing overhead at Nui Dat.
Sometimes it was a Caribou or Hercules. Other times it was the "drumming" of Iroquois which one never forgets. Flights of Phantom jets on strafing mission to nearby hills would create a sonic boom as they passed over Nui Dat hill. On some occasions it would be larger helicopters such as a Skycrane or Chinook lifting artillery pieces to fire support bases.
The allies had complete air superiority, only vunerable to a "lucky shot" from ground forces.
Once in awhile aircraft of similiar size to the Caribou would pass directly over ahead in a formation of three, out of their fuselage would stream a mist which would settle everywhere and leave anyone on the ground saturated with this unknown chemical.
On occasion I also witnessed this mist being dispensed from booms on helicopters.
When I had been in Saigon and Vung Tau airports I had noticed large metal drums with orange and sometimes blue stripes painted on them with the word "POISON". It never occurred to me that this these chemicals were what I had witnessed being discharged from aircraft.
Being a keen photographer I took some slides as the planes went over 106 Workshops.
In June 1969 I went home for R&R to Australia. Many of the Americans were pulled over for a body search by Customs mainly for drug possession. I was also searched thoroughly, but it appeared not for drugs.
At that moment I did not realise what the Customs staff were after but after composing myself and luggage realised that some of my photographic slides were missing.
I, at first thought, that the staff were after a souvenir of the war but then realised the only ones missing were of aircraft delivering the mist over Nui Dat. All I can assume from this was that, at this stage of the Vietnam War, our Government was most embarrassed by any thought of chemicals being used as a weapon so they wanted things kept a bit quiet.
Many years later when veterans were being diagnosed with unusual medical problems thought to be a result of chemical defoliant contamination, I and many others, sent evidence to the Agent Orange Commission.
By the way there were also Agents Pink, Purple, Green,and White a "Rainbow Cocktail" I have heard it called.
For more reading on this subject, recent books by Jean R. Williams printed by Queensland Complete Printing Services, Nambour, QLD are
- Cry In The Wilderness ISBN 0 949525 24 3 (1995),
- Children Of The Mist ISBN 0 9578217 94(2002),
- The Devil's Rainbow ISBN O-646-36454-5 (2000)