The link to this song was sent into VT by a friend of ours. He asked that it be included in our Stories of Agent Orange effort. It comes from a post on the blog Agent Orange Zone.
During the Vietnam War, Country Joe McDonald wrote a song called “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die Rag” that was both an anti-war anthem and a source of gallows humor for many Vietnam Veterans. Over the years it has become one of the most identifiable Vietnam War songs ever written.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Joe is a US Navy veteran who has been very supportive of Vietnam Vets and their causes over the years. He maintains a website (http://countryjoe.com/) that includes a section, “Next Stop Vietnam,” with various links to veterans and military organizations, and to medical information about PTSD, Agent Orange, and other war-related health information. It is here where we find the Agent Orange Song.
Posted by: Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Staff Writer, VT Military Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal
In the 1970’s, Muriel Hogan, a woman who worked with Vietnam Veterans’ organizations on the Agent Orange (AO) issue learned the story of Paul Reutershan, “a helicopter chief who flew almost daily through clouds of herbicides and ‘watched the mangrove forests turn brown and die.’ ” The Army told Reutershan that Agent Orange was, “…relatively non-toxic to humans and animals.”
On his return from Vietnam, Reutershan was diagnosed with cancer that he attributed to Agent Orange. He founded and became chairman of Vietnam Veterans Agent Orange Victims, Inc. In early 1978, he went on the “The Today Show” and stated, “I died in Vietnam, but I didn’t even know it.” On July 20, 1978, his organization filed a $10 million lawsuit against Dow, Monsanto, Diamond Shamrock, and Hercules– manufacturers of Agent Orange. On December 14, 1978, Reutershan died of cancer. In 1984, the Agent Orange Class Action lawsuit was settled for $180 million.
Ms. Hogan heard the line from the “Today” show and wrote what she called her Agent Orange song. She called it “Paul Reutershan,” but it has come to be known as the “Agent Orange Song.”
“The Agent Orange Song” has been recorded by numerous artists, including Country Joe. To hear the “Agent Orange Song,” click this link http://countryjoe.com/jukebox.htm and then click on the song title, the first one on the list.
You may need RealPlayer in order to listen to the .ram formatted audio.
Here is a link to an .mp3 version Agent Orange Song
Robert L. Hanafin, Staff Writer, VT
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner.
My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me.
Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000.
I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house.
I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.