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Veterans' News

More ships named for Agent Orange, grave markers available for veterans


For the last few issues I’ve spent most of these pieces talking about mesothelioma and its impact on the lives of veterans—maybe too much so as it is a depressing topic to dwell on. If anyone has been exposed to asbestos and has been diagnosed with either mesothelioma or asbestosis there isn’t really much that can be done in the way of a cure. The only real alternatives are to 1) join the various class action suits against the companies or industries that use that insidious mineral or 2) work real hard on your ‘Bucket List’.  I, for one, would start on my personal ‘Bucket List’. There are many, many things that I would rather be doing than making some lawyer wealthier.

I cannot undo my past history. My exposure to asbestos dust in 1962 is a fact. If there is asbestos in my body it cannot be extricated by any means currently available to the medical profession. Accepting those facts are difficult but are a reality that must be dealt with. Therefore, I would choose to spend whatever time is available on doing those things that I have put off. I would not say “someday I’ll do this or that.” I would say “Let’s go do this or that tomorrow.” For instance, I’ve lived here in North Idaho for over 30 years and I’ve never been to Glacier or Yellowstone Parks. My reasons are the usual lame excuses. We’ll do that when the kids are out of the house. We’ll do that when we are retired. My personal favorite is, When we have more money. Life is much too short and we are dead much too long to be putting things off.

Entirely too many things go undone because of these lame excuses. How many times have you said to yourself, “I can’t go fishing (hunting, sailing, skiing, hiking ad nauseam) today because the lawn needs mowing?” Much of life is wasted—yes, I said ‘wasted’—doing things we think need to be done when in reality it is an option and not a requirement. Yes, we need to honor any commitments we make. But no one will think less of us if we meet those commitments and still do things we want to do. Having said all the above I’ll now move on to new items.

One of the bennies of having been asked to contribute to the River Journal is that I get to wander around the Internet looking for things that I think may be of interest to local veterans. One of the things that I saw recently was about grave markers for veterans who died after November 1990.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is offering bronze medallions to attach to existing, privately purchased headstones or markers, signifying a deceased’s status as a Veteran.

“For Veterans not buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery, or those without a government grave marker, VA is pleased to offer this option that highlights their service and sacrifices for our country,” said Secretary Shinseki. The new item can be furnished instead of a traditional government headstone or marker for Veterans whose death occurred on or after 1 NOV 90, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. Under federal law, eligible Veterans buried in a private cemetery are entitled to either a government-furnished grave marker or the new medallion, but not both. Veterans buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery will receive a government headstone or marker of the standard design authorized at that cemetery. 

The medallion is available in three sizes: 5 inches, 3 inches and 1.5 inches in width. Each bronze medallion features the image of a folded burial flag adorned with laurels and is inscribed with the word “Veteran” at the top and the branch of service at the bottom. Next of kin will receive the medallion, along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the medallion to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover. More information about VA-furnished headstones, markers and medallions can be found at http://tinyurl.com/273j3c4 . VA is currently developing an application form for ordering the medallion. Until it is available, applicants may use the form for ordering government headstones and markers, VA. (Veterans Administration press release)

It may not be a piece of earthshaking news but it is a small step in better recognition for those who have served. I appreciate any small tidbit that indicates someone in Washington DC realizes their job is secure because of what veterans have sacrificed. 

On the ‘Agent Orange‘ front more ships and units have been added to the list presumed to have been exposed to Agent Orange during the Viet Nam war. (See list of ships below.) If you served on any of these mentioned ships and you have had a claim denied, you should reapply citing the VA list as the source for your reapplication. It appears that there is also a third list in the works. If you have a claim and evidence the ship you served on was in Vietnamese waters and/or actually tied up to a dock there, make sure you include that with your claim. 

With this update on Agent Orange it seems that I’ve reached my goals for this month. I have to save some stuff for future articles. Take care and be good to yourself.


All U.S. Coast Guard Cutters with hull designation WPB [patrol boat] and WHEC [high endurance cutters]

·        USS Mark (AKL-12) [light cargo ship]; USS Brule (AKL-28)

·        USS Patapsco (AOG-1) [gasoline tanker];  USS Elkhorn (AOG-7)

·        USS Genesee (AOG-8); USS Kishwaukee (AOG-9)

·        USS Tombigbee (AOG-11); USS Noxubee (AOG-56)

·        USS Okanogan (APA-210) [attack transport]; USS Montrose (APA-212)

·        USS Bexar (APA-237)

·        USS Benewah (APB-35) [self-propelled barracks ship]; USS Colleton (APB-36)

·        USS Mercer (APB-39); USS Nueces (APB-40)

·        Barracks Barge (APL-26) [sleeping quarters] ); Barracks Barge (APL-30)

·        USS Tutuila (ARG-4) [repair ship]; USS Satyr (ARL-23) [repair ship]

·        USS Sphinx (ARL-24); USS Askari (ARL-30); USS Indra (ARL-37)

·        USS Krishna (ARL-38)

·        USS Belle Grove (LSD-2) [landing ship dock]; USS Comstock (LSD-19)

·        USS Tortuga (LSD-26)

·        USS Asheville (PG-84) [patrol gunboat]; USS Gallop (PG-85)

·        USS Antelope (PG-86); USS Ready (PG-87); USS Crockett (PG-88)

·        USS Marathon (PG-89); USS Canon (PG-90)

·        Floating Base Platform (YRBM-17) [repair, berthing, and messing barge]

·        Floating Base Platform (YRBM-18); Floating Base Platform (YRBM-20)

·        Winnemucca (YTB-785) [harbor tug]

·        USS Card (ACV-11) [escort carrier] mined, sunk, and salvaged in Saigon River Harbor during May 1964

·        USS Maury (AGS-16) [mapping survey ship] conducted surveys of Mekong Delta and other coastal areas and rivers beginning November 1965 through 1969

·        USS Henrico (APA-45) [amphibious attack transport] operated on Hue River during March 1965 and conducted numerous troop landings through March 1967

·        USS Montrose (APA-212) operated on Song Hue River during December 1965, operated on Long Tau River during March 1967, and operated on Cua Viet River and at Dong Ha during May 1967

·        USS Talladega (APA-208) operated on Saigon River during October 1967

·        USS Bolster (ARS-38) [salvage ship] crew operated on land.

·        USS Canberra (CAG-2) [guided missile cruiser] operated on Saigon River from March 31 through April 1, 1966, on Cua Viet River during December 15, 1966, and on Mekong Delta Ham Luong River during January 15, 1967

·        USS Sproston (DD-577) [destroyer] operated on Mekong Delta and Ganh Rai Bay during January 1966

·        USS Picking (DD-685) operated on Saigon River during November 16, 1965

·        USS Epperson (DD-719) docked to Da Nang Pier on October 4, 1970

·        USS Southerland (DD-743) operated on Song Nga Bay and Saigon River during July 1966

·        USS John W. Thomason (DD-760) operated on Nga Be River during 1969

·        USS Buck (DD-761) operated on Mekong River Delta and Saigon River during October 1966

·        USS Preston (DD-795) operated on Mekong River Delta, Ganh Rai Bay, and Saigon River during September 28 - 29 and December 27 - 29, 1965

·        USS Warrington (DD-843) operated on Mekong River Delta Rung Sat Special Zone, North of Vung Gahn Rai Bay during March 1967

·        USS Dyess (DD-880) operated on Saigon River and Rung Sat Special Zone from June 19-July 1, 1966

·        USS Perkins (DD-877) operated on Saigon River during June 1969

·        USS Orleck (DD-886) operated on Mekong River Delta during July 1969

·        USS Joseph Strauss (DDG-16) [guided missile destroyer] operated on Mekong River Delta and Ganh Rai Bay during November 7 and December 7,1968

·        USS Waddell (DDG-24) operated on Cua Viet River during March 1967


USS Newell (DER-322) [radar destroyer escort] docked at port of Nha Trang during December 22-24, 1965



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Author info

Gil  Beyer Gil Beyer A 21 year Navy veteran, lived in Bonner County for over 30 years, Past Commander of the Priest River DAV Chapter and admitted news junkie.

Tagged as:

veterans, agent orange, navy, asbestos, mesothelioma, health

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