From 1962 to 1971, American C-123 transport planes sprayed roughly 20 million gallons of herbicides on an area of South Vietnam about the size of Massachusetts.

The use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War continues to cast a dark shadow over both American veterans and the Vietnamese.

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Some members of the Ranch Hand team adopted Smokey Bear of forest-fire awareness fame as a mascot. “Only you can prevent a forest” was their twist on Smokey’s slogan.

This defoliant war code-named Ranch Hand, reached its peak from 1967 to 1969. Agent Orange did not harm humans, officials said.

This following documentary video returns us to Vietnam and to the chemical Agent Orange, a combination of two herbicides. One turned out to be contaminated with a highly toxic strain of dioxin.

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Defoliant spray run, part of Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War by UC-123B Provider aircraft.

In the beginning of 1960s, researchers found evidence of birth defects in lab animals. American scientists starts speaking out against the spraying. In 1970, the Agent Orange spraying stopped. Other chemicals continued to be used until Jan. 7, 1971, when the entire herbicide program was scrapped after a final Ranch Hand run.

But Agent Orange’s legacy was only beginning. More than 40 years later, it still casts a long shadow.

Vietnamese environment is poisoned and health problems (birth defects, cancers and other diseases) afflict hundreds of thousands of their children. In the USA, veterans are convinced that their cancers and nervous disorders, skin diseases and congenital maladies afflicting some of their children are linked to the spraying and contact with Agent Orange.

Who knows what will be discovered someday about the health of Americans who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. But first, there is older business resolve. The ’60s, it seems, aren’t over yet.

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