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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Vietnam War

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Vietnam War The Battle for Vietnam. .

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  #16  
Old 26 Feb 12, 17:29
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Muster gas, viet nam

Muster gas was used on buddist monks in 1963 in the city of Hue by the SVN Army, per the 1963 May issue of newsweek. The gas was French that had been left in VN after Diem Beum Fu(spelling not correct). During operation hastings July 1966, muster gas was used by the 324B North VN army on Marines of 3/5 Lima Company. I spent 30 days on the hospital ship Repose due to blisters on both arms. Most of the squad got killed, but the after action report from the Cornel Bornas (?) mentioned the gas used when we got ambushed on July, 24,1966. I tribute this incident to not having a sense of smell for the last 40+ years.
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Old 27 Feb 12, 11:53
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There are hundreds of books written on Agent Orange and its effects. Some very intense medical documents/studies and some are very general in nature.

According to good scientific data Agent Orange is a direct cause of many cancers. This is not due to the herbicides but something included in them, called dioxin.

Happy hunting, there are tombes of data out there.
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  #18  
Old 27 Feb 12, 22:19
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Originally Posted by hh1636 View Post
Muster gas was used on buddist monks in 1963 in the city of Hue by the SVN Army, per the 1963 May issue of newsweek. The gas was French that had been left in VN after Diem Beum Fu(spelling not correct). During operation hastings July 1966, muster gas was used by the 324B North VN army on Marines of 3/5 Lima Company. I spent 30 days on the hospital ship Repose due to blisters on both arms. Most of the squad got killed, but the after action report from the Cornel Bornas (?) mentioned the gas used when we got ambushed on July, 24,1966. I tribute this incident to not having a sense of smell for the last 40+ years.
I think that you'll find the newsweek article was in error. Apparently it was not mustard gas, but was tear gas. There's a pretty good article on the affair at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hu%E1%B...emical_attacks

And here's something about Lima 3/5 you might find interesting

http://www.limathreefive.com/pdf/Sto...n_Hastings.pdf

and the after action report - page 33 speaks of tear gas.
http://www.limathreefive.com/pdf/cc/35660703.pdf
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  #19  
Old 28 Feb 12, 07:37
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Newsweek has always had a leftist slant, more so today then at any other time in their history. It is little different from the Supermarket Rags such as the Sun, Weekly World News, and similar publications with headlines of alien babies, celebrities having severe health issues, famous people having secret affairs, and the end of the world is coming due to some hidden hazard from space.

Regardless, handling such chemicals directly or getting them poured on the skin, is going to cause far more damage then just exposure to the powder of vapors. Even more so to people who's skin is sensitive enough to have an allergic reaction.
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Old 28 Feb 12, 13:11
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Add me to the list affirming no mustard gas in Vietnam. While not an expert on the subject I did finish an NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) course that qualified me to serve as as designated NBC NCO for my unit (after Vietnam), so I am familiar with the various chemical agents used in warfare. The biggest reason (besides a treaty) that it is not used now is it's unpredictability. Wind conditions can cause the gas to go where it was not wanted, sometimes even back on the army that sent the gas. Also, it's hard to send soldiers into the contaminated area to exploit anything "gained" from a chemical attack.

CS gas (tear gas) was used by both sides. I can only recall once when my unit used it. In the March 28, 1971 attack on LZ Mary Ann, the PAVN sappers used CS.

One other use besides WWI was by the Hussein regime against Iraqi Kurds. I believe Iraq also used it in the war with Iran.

As for Agent Orange, there are lots of data. Some is available on the internet. The Veterans Administration has a list of ailments from cancer to diabetes that are attributable to Agent Orange, along with other herbicides used in Vietnam.
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Old 29 Feb 12, 07:39
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During the days before Tet 67, we used three barrels of CS powder to render three huge bins of rice found near the Cambodian Border unfit for consumption. We had to wash our clothes in order to get rid of the itchy residue.

A day later, we used CS grenades in an effort to recover a fallen comrade from an ambush. That failed due to the fact that a wet rag wrapped around the face becomes quite effective in defending against its effects.

The last time the CS was used was in the battle of the Black Widow Mountain in September 67. It didn't have much effect there either.

During the Cold War, both sides were researching the use of some very nasty stuff and the defense against it. IE, bug spray designed to quickly kill people. Total enclosure in a protective mask and rubberized gear along with adsorbent cream and epi pens only offered partial protection.

We never had anything stronger then CS powder in Vietnam, the military equivalent of tear gas. During training you quickly learned two downsides to its use. It was only effective as the wind direction and the grenades tended to start fires under dry conditions.
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  #22  
Old 05 May 12, 17:41
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blister gas used On in VN

Operation Hastings after action report page 33 states the gas was not CS or CN gas? If we knew it was neither of that type of gas, how did we know it was not?

Thanks for the help.

Semper Fi
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  #23  
Old 06 May 12, 05:57
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HH,

There was alot more than one AAR done on Operation Hastings. I read the one you referenced, and took it to mean specifically what it stated...it was not CN or CS, which are US agents. It could have been a field expedient concoction, or Soviet/Sino-bloc stuff. Regardless, I wasn't able to find much of anything about PAVN/PLF units employing chemical munitions during a large operation. I saw general reference to PAVN/PLF units capturing CS munitions. I also saw where Marines at Khe Sanh were exposed to CS (our own stuff) after the NVA hit an ammo depot during an artillery strike. Read about the use of CS during Operation Tailwind, which the media spun into a full-out Sarin Gas conspiracy.

The question you asked has a kind of conspiratorial flavor to it. As I read it, the question was, how did we know the gas was not CS/CN? I take that to mean "How do we know it was not Mustard Gas, or some other Chemical Warfare agent?" If that is the case, consider this question, did Marines routinely carry the protective masks and the injector set during combat ops?

The pro-mask is only half the solution to the problem, or maybe only 1/3 (there is the good old MOPP suit that accompanies the other two items). The question is where was it stored? In the ruck? If you didn't have the injectors, and you were exposed to blister (Mustard) or Nerve (Sarin) agents, you would have to dig thru the ruck to find the mask and get it on, greatly enhancing the chance of contamination, with no means to treat it. We know the Marines were fully exposed to whatever the agent was, because they were symptomatic (the minor eye irritation comment in the AAR). If it was anything other than a riot control agent...the result would have been far different.

have you heard of any statistics or anecdotal evidence that suggests any US Personnel were treated for exposure to chemical weapons? (**Caveat: Not going down the road of Agent Orange, as it was not a chemical weapon. It was a chemical...but a herbicide, not a weapon.) I could find none.

Last edited by don744; 06 May 12 at 06:24..
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  #24  
Old 06 May 12, 10:23
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blister gas question

thanks to all for your input. the army chemical corps did the testing of the agent gas that was used on the monks in 1963 at Hue'. I'm trying to get the results of thise tests from Maryland testing center.
Your right about what my question should be, how did we know it was not CS or CN gas? I have a picture of what my arms looked like while getting treatment on the USS Repose.
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  #25  
Old 06 May 12, 10:27
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forgot to answer question on if we had gas masks? No we did not, but the 324B troops did, approx 50 were recovered from the battlefield. This was the only time I encountered NVA gas masks while serving 2 tours as a grunt.
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Old 07 May 12, 00:11
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Two tours in Vietnam as a Marine grunt hh?Some men are born brothers,other men earn it, my brother.God Bless You.
My Marine rifle company,Bravo 1/3,occasionally were sent out gas mask from the rear.We didnot have the luxury of humping the added weight of a piece of equipment that we might "possibility use".After cutting up and burying the masks some of the men kept the mask carriers to put beans and bullets in.
I once talked to a Army engineer who was funnelling CS into a tunnel opening.He said that the stuff could be lethal depending on the quantity deployed over or into an area.He seemed to know what he was talking about.
There were alot of unexplained"things"going on in northernmost I Corps back in 1969.
When we were patrolling in certain terrain,Laos for one,the thyroid glands in our necks and the glands on both sides of our scrotum would swell to the size of golf balls.Sore but not alot of pain,still alarming.Every man in Bravo.The corpsmen did'nt have a clue as to what caused it.After a time,days,the swelling would go away.Years later in the 1980's I told a V.A. doctor about this condition.He told me he knew what caused it,but said no more to me about it.I should have pressed him for more information but I did'nt.I was there for the Agent Orange testing.
So hh we all have unanswered questions from that time.
It's an honor to have you onboard here,keep posting .
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Old 07 May 12, 02:59
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A little late here..... but yes Chemical Specialists were exposed to a small droplet of blister agent during the period in question.
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Old 07 May 12, 04:37
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Originally Posted by hh1636 View Post
forgot to answer question on if we had gas masks? No we did not, but the 324B troops did, approx 50 were recovered from the battlefield. This was the only time I encountered NVA gas masks while serving 2 tours as a grunt.
I gotcha. I hope I didn't come across as a "doubting Thomas" on the entire recounting. I was skeptical over the NVA use of a lethal agent against US forces. I've read about our guys taping powdered CS to claymore mines for use in ambushes. The enemy may have tried the same thing with their own stuff. Why utilize a weapon of mass destruction? There is little upside for the NVA to risk retaliation from the US for using lethal chemical weapons.

I still think it was some form of irritant, rather than a lethal gas (meaning nerve/blister/blood agents).

Here's an excerpt from the account of the operation by the L/3/5 XO linked by nBrooks503:

"For me, the single-most traumatic moment of the battle occurred when we were hit by a tear gas grenade. For 30 seconds to several minutes, I was near panic. I was sure it was all over. I couldn't see, my eyes were burning, I was choking. I was unable to function at all. Thankfully, a favorable wind blew the gas away, and the NVA never threw anymore gas grenades."

Blister agents are some nasty stuff. If it was gaseous, and inhaled, I would assume the same type of reaction on your arms to happen in the lungs. Anyway, thanks for your service and welcome home.

Last edited by don744; 07 May 12 at 06:43.. Reason: Wanted to clarify my thoughts.
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Old 29 May 12, 11:47
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The Army conculded that the agent used on the Monks, Hue, 1963 was "chloracetone" or maybe it was called CX gas. It was used by France on the Germans in WW1.
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Old 29 May 12, 12:00
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The Army conculded that the agent used on the Monks, Hue, 1963 was "chloracetone" or maybe it was called CX gas. It was used by France on the Germans in WW1.
Ok...from what I have been able to pull up it was one of the earliest tear gasses used in warfare. Do you think this was the same stuff you guys were hit with?
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