USS Fox Message Board
Register Calendar

  Author   Comment  

Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
Hello Foxmen who served during the Vietnam war. It's been a long time since our service there and no matter how much I pissed and moaned about it when I was in, it remains one of the best memories of my life. Some of the best, rowdiest and truest friends I've had in 70 years on the planet. Still in touch with a few via email and an occasional get together.

Like a lot of you when I got out I turned my back on the war and proceeded with my life (honestly some times I wished I stayed in). I didn't talk about my service with new friends or family and more than a few were surprised to find out I am a vet. In some ways I was ashamed of my service in Viet Nam but not of the Fox nor the men I served with. But outside of contact with a few shipmates, I tried to forget about it.

A couple of topics have changed my attitude about forgetting about it though.

One was a visit to the USS Constitution where I realized you can draw a line from the men who served on her to the men we sailed with and the young sailors I met on her in Boston. It made me proud to be an American Sailor again. A pride too long missing from my life. Not so much in myself as in the Ship I served on and the men I served with. To be part of that is something no one should tarnish,not even oneself. I know some of us could be jerks, myself included at times, but we did it. We stood up when others were feigning high blood pressure, claiming conscientious objection or even leaving the country. Right or wrong, we stood in the gap for our country. We can take it to the grave. We can be proud of that!

The other topic that brought my service back into my life, is my health. Over the years since discharge in 01/71 there's been a slow deterioration from high blood pressure in my 20's (didn't have it when I went in) to a triple bypass in my 50's. I chalked it up to working in construction and hard living. However, at some point in my 60's I realized that I had a double handful of maladies that no one in my immediate family has experienced 

A partial list would include CLL/SLL, Ischemia, COPD, Chronic Kidney Disease, three kinds of Arthritis, peripheral neuropathy, anemia, pre-daibetes, asthma, sleeplessness, occasional night sweats, etc. 

After an intense period of research over a couple of years I decided that Agent Orange might or more correctly dioxin might be the source of some if not all of my health issues and filed a claim with the VA and after a couple of years they essentially told me I wasn't there. So I'm appealing their decision. Because we were there.

The dioxin toxicity is the stuff of science fiction. If you took a regular aspirin and cut it into 470,000 pieces, one piece would be enough to alter your DNA and the DNA of your offspring. Here's the deal though it affects everyone differently. It might give you non-Hodgkins lymphoma and it might give me Ischemia.  If you haven't done the homework it's hard to believe. I'd be glad to recommend books, personal testimony, publications, etc to anyone who's interested. My email is posted on the site. Contact me.

So why am I writing this long winded diatribe? I may have waited too long to take action. Don't wait any longer to step up and make your voice heard for vets. File a claim, write a letter, join the Blue Water Navy Viet Nam Association, get active in your old age.

I'm not complaining about health issues I acquired during my military service. I enlisted. It was war. I'm still here and I've had 70's on the planet. I can still walk and talk and get around. I have friends, dying and dead thanks to their service to this country.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I've got medicare and pay monthly for a Kaiser plan. A lot of our brothers don't have anything or anyone speaking for them, caring for them and that's not right!

What I don't appreciate is the VA turning their back on us so called Blue Water Navy vets. I don't know about you but when I enlisted there was only one Navy and we all served in it. Divide and conquer is as old as war.

What I don't appreciate is the fact that the VA budget is not a mandatory line item on anyone's budget (domestic or military) when it should be a mandate on the DOD budget that if we're gonna spend billions killing people and lining the pockets of our corporate overlords we should by god have to support disabled Vets with whatever they need especially if their malady is service related.

It's called a presumption of exposure for a reason. Very few servicemen can prove their exposure. The IOM said that blue water sailors had the same avenues of exposure to Agent Orange as our in country brothers and sisters plus some they didn't.

The Australian Navy (remember the sailors with a refrigerator in their sleeping berth and cold beer in it) found their Blue Water sailors dying with a higher rate of cancers, etc. than the men that served in-country. They gave their Navy vets coverage when they served up to 100 miles at sea.

I was in Balboa Naval Hospital in 1967 for an emergency appendectomy. I was in a ward with some seriously messed up marines. Missing arms, legs, eyeballs, colostomy bags, etc.There is no way my service approached the ferocity of theirs.They were young men who laid it all out there for their country. However that does not negate my service and my issues, nor yours.

The diseases caused by Agent Orange are disabilities!

Do something for VETS. Nobody outside of ourselves and our loved ones seems to care, at least not in the government. Myself, I'm volunteering at a local veterans facility while I still can and i'm talking to anyone who ill listen.

I'm going to San Antone, hope to see you there!

Tally Ho and Semper Fortis!

RM2 Mike Cunningham
USS FOX (2/17/1968 - 1/04/1971)

Charles Jones
Mike, this Charlie Jones. I was on the Fox from 66-70. Gunners mate. Over the years I've had melanoma, colon cancer and bladder cancer. And I agree with you and think it is related to exposure of some powerful chemicals being used in Nam. I'm in the process of filing a claim. And I know the VA will probably reject it. The more they reject the better the bonuses they get. So if you get a chance email me and help me do this right for our other shipmates that have been affected. Thanks

Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
Hey Charlie,
I remember you. I'll send you an email today with a few suggestions.
Are ship the USS Fox DLG 33 is on the Agent Orange list of Ships now.

Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
I looked at the list a couple of days ago and the FOX was listed in one of the categories by virtue of crew members recorded as going ashore in Da Nang but was shown for the 1967 deployment. I don't know if you have to show shore visitation by crew members at every visit to qualify that crew or what. In fact, I don't know if shore visitation by one or more crew members qualifies the entire crew.

I'm trying to find out how this works and would appreciate any information regarding same.

For general info the FOX was there in 1968 in November (12th and 13th) and again in June 1970. 


Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
Here's some links to ProPublica stories regarding Agent Orange exposure by USN personnel, provided by a writer with ProPublica.
Tally Ho!


Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
Here's an update from ProPublica regarding the current state of affairs with the VA and Agent Orange.

Hi Michael,

We had hoped to hear something this week but didn’t.

It’s been about eight months since Veterans Affairs Secretary Dr. David Shulkin said in a digital town hall, “We’re getting very close to being able to give you a final answer” on if the VA would expand the list of diseases that are presumed to be linked to Agent Orange. That hasn’t happened. The VA did issue a statement late Wednesday saying it would “further explore” the issue and pushing its decisions to some undisclosed point in the future. 

Here’s our latest story on the delay:

The VA said it would now work with the Trump administration to conduct a legal and regulatory review of conditions for awarding disability compensation to eligible veterans. 

But wasn’t that the review that has been ongoing since March 2016, when the National Academy of Medicine said there is evidence to suggest that AO exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism?

We spoke to veterans and their families after we got the news from the VA that they were delaying their announcement. Here’s what Dick Pirozzolo, 73, said: “It’s frustrating. The politicians all talk a good game about the VA, but then when it comes down to making a decision, they drag their heels.” 

Pirozzolo served as an information officer in the Air Force in Vietnam and has had bladder cancer and a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease. 

Now what? Well, the VA did not provide a new date by which it expects to act. We even asked why it didn’t meet its self-imposed deadline for action of Nov. 1. They responded Thursday and said: “Your premise is incorrect … Yesterday’s press release announced his decision — he is considering possible new presumptive conditions that may qualify for disability compensation related to Agent Orange exposure.”

If and when we get any more information, we’ll let you know. Thank you and hang in there.

Terry and Charlie


Avatar / Picture

Posts: 9
Here's a link to a recent American Legion meeting in D.C. regarding the reinstitution of our presumption of exposure to Agent Orange during the Viet Nam War.
Previous Topic | Next Topic

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.