USS TUNNY (APSS/LPSS-282) and AGENT ORANGE EXPOSURE INFORMATION 1967-1969
Last Updated: July 14, 2020
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7/14/2020: From Bob White. Here is what the VA based their decision on:
VA Form 21-526 received April 17, 2013
DD 214/215, service treatment and personnel records
Outpatient treatment records from VAMC Las Vegas Health Care System
Treatment records form Health Care Medical Group
Statement from LCDR George W. Barnette dated April 12, 2014
REASONS FOR DECISION
Service connection may be granted for specific diseases or conditions which are presumed to have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange. Although not shown in service, service connection for diabetes mellitus type II has been granted on the basis of presumption due to Agent Orange exposure. (38 CFR 3.307, 38 CFR 3.309)
Exposure to herbicide has been conceded for your service aboard the USS Tunny based on service in the waterways of Vietnam during your service aboard this vessel in accordance with PL 116-23.
6/30/2020: Former Tunny Radioman, Robert "Bob" White, who served during the APSS and LPSS Eras learned recently that his claim and appeals to the Veterans Administration (VA) for ills suffered from Agent Orange exposure have been partially approved. Bob shared further that anyone who needs to discuss their own situation the ills of Agent Orange should call 1-800-827-1000 and ask for "Navy Blue Water Representative."
In December 2019, I submitted an inquiry to the VA using their IRIS System in pursuit of my trying to get the Tunny, the Perch and the Grayback to be recognized by the VA as submarines that operated within the 12 NM territorial limits of Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange chemicals. My inquiry to the VA was that I wanted to know who was responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Blue Water Navy Veterans List. After about a month later, I received the following from a J. Billington, National IRIS Response Center Manager. Seems there is a "Special Team" responsible, but the VA is not providing the names of those who are on it.
Click here to download the word.docx file that includes the exchanges.
In summary, I believe the VA has created a Catch-22 Situation which puts the burden of proof on the claimant to prove Tunny was within territorial waters during the Vietnam War and its crew(s) were exposed to Agent Orange. Their position is that the only way the name of vessel can be put on the List is for the affected to submit a claim. Hey, maybe I will send in a claim in Tunny's name? Anyone want to help?
So, it behooves those who are affected to make sure they provide the evidence which Bob Smith and I have presented using my personal website www.olszewskienterprises.com. I personally do not have a 'dog in this fight' but, those who do need to take the action and inform their advocates or submit supplemental locational information with your claims. Also, let your Congressmen or Senators know what is not going on.
Good luck and best to everyone!
USS TUNNY (SSG-282) 1958-1962
Posted: 11/7/2019 by Ray Olszewski
Former Tunny crew member Bob White (APSS & LPSS Era 1967-1969) recently received a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs Claims Intake Center, Janesville, WI. Bob who has been engaged in a long process appeal with the VA for Agent Orange exposure shared a copy of the letter with me and authorized me to share it with others to whom it may apply and to post on my website. A copy of the letter titled BlueWaterAct2019 can be found by clicking here. Should you need to contact/confer with Bob White, his contact information is: (530) 391-9389 and his email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fundamentally, the 3-page letter says that a recent law change found in Public Law 116-23, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019 may apply as follows:
(Refer to: PL 116-23, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019, can be accessed online at https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/299/text.)
Although the letter that is signed by Beth Murphy, Executive Director, Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits Administration addressed to former Tunny Radioman White makes reference to VA Form 20-0995 that may or may not apply to others. So, each individual will have to determine for themselves if the contents apply or not.
As you know, Bob White and myself, have posted location information that definitively shows Tunny 282 was within the Republic of Vietnam’s 12 nm limits and called ports in that country. (Refer to www.olszewskienterprises.com). This information is based on a cursory examination of Tunny’s Deck Logs which former Tunny crew member David Buehn holds copies of. Bob White did the plotting for his own situation. It very well may be that these plots are not applicable to all former Tunny crew members who served during the Vietnam War. Information published in USS TUNNY: History, Tribute, and Memoir by former Tunny crew member, Ray Olszewski, offers historical information about the 14 SPECOPS deployments that Tunny conducted during the Vietnam War and identifies by name and dates those who made those deployments. During the course of writing Tunny’s history Ray Olszewski constructed a database from data extracted from Tunny’s Personnel Diaries and identified over 7,500 individual records of personnel changes for over 1,530 individuals. If needed and requested, Ray can be contacted at (703) 244-5678 or by email, ROlszewski@aol.com for their information.
As for the DeckLogs, David Buehn will need to be contacted at (714) 310-9934 or email: email@example.com. David has agreed to support any and all requests so needed. Please also note that the foregoing information is being sent by email and posted on Ray’s personal website, www.olszewskienterprises.com. This information should actually be posted on the Tunny Association's "official" website, usstunny.org, but, until it is brought up to date, my personal business website will have to do. Also, please note that the foregoing information is being sent only to those who have a valid email address. It is not being snail mailed or broadcasted at this time to hundreds of other former Tunny crew members who do not use email, Facebook or other social media services. Should you know of a former Tunny crewmember who has been exposed to Agent Orange while serving on Tunny, please contact them and share this information with them.
Recently Uncovered, photo evidence putting Tunny in-port Danang, Vietnam 1968.
The below image shows three Tunny crewmembers, Ed Willis, John Horder, and an unknown in Danang, Vietnam in 1968. Photo courtesy of: Tom Rose, former Tunny 282 crewmember.
Positioning information has been found contained in USS TUNNY (APSS-282) Deck Logs that clearly puts the diesel electric powered USS TUNNY (APSS and LPSS-282) inside the 12 NM Territorial Limits of the North Vietnam Coastline. Should you need supporting evidence provided you served on the Tunny during Vietnam Era, Ray Olszewski can tell you when you reported on board, when you were transferred off, and includes comments about your promotions, qualifying in submarines, captain's masts, etc. Contact Ray at: ROlszewski@aol.com for that information, or you can call him at: (703) 244-5678. The information in Ray's database was used to identify those who served on Tunny from 1942 through 1959 and is backed up by the Tunny Muster Reports.
The information that follows is the work of former Tunny Radioman Robert William White and former Tunny Yeoman Ray Olszewski. Former Tunny Seaman David Buehn holds copies of Tunny Deck Logs and is available to provide support as needed. David can be contacted at his email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. The information that is presented is in chronological order and includes both the positioning information found in associated USS TUNNY Deck Logs followed by charts. Those positions that are bolded in red are positions located within the 12NM territorial limits of the Republic of North Vietnam (RVN) coastline.
October 1967: USS TUNNY (APSS-282) SPECOPS Deployment #5 (5 Oct 67 to 20 Oct 67)
with UDT-11 Det "C" Embarked
References: CTG 70.9 MovOrd 010110Z October 1967 and CTF 76 260105Z September 1967
(Click on the Yes to access image of associated Deck Log)
Commanding Officer, Commander Wiliam Carbine Green, USN
Note 1: White reports this position plots on land and is in error.
The following six (6) charts were produced by Robert W. White and support the above positions extracted from the Tunny's Deck Logs. White used Google Earth was used for these images.
In addition to the foregoing information, the following is a draft report of the Tunny's operations during SPECOP Deployment #5. This draft report was written by Tunny's Commanding Officer, William Green, which when positioning data was added would be appropriately classified and submitted as a "patrol report" to the U.S. Navy's Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). Attempts to obtain the classified reports have been unsuccessful, and they remain highly sought after. Recommend that the Veteran's Administration pursue determining they are available and reviewing them if they need further evidence of the Tunny being within the 12NM territorial waters as the reports will describe that Tunny on many occasions were required to surface to provide support to the UDT/SEAL teams in launching and retrieving them during their mission operations. For ease of finding the times Tunny had to be on the surface during this SPECOP Deployment the report addresses, the word surface is bolded. For background and description of Tunny's UDT Support Operations, click here which will take you to the Background section of this posting.
Summary of USS Tunny (APSS 282) Operations
5 October - 20 October 1967
UDT-11 Det "C" Embarked
Mission. USS TUNNY (APSS 282) was directed by CTG 70.9 msg 010110Z Oct 1967 to conduct UDT beach surveys, take beach panoramic photography, and gather certain reconnaissance information at NIS beaches 2, 8, 14, 17, 20, and 22, Republic of Viet Nam, during the period 5-18 October 1967. This mission was to be conducted in a covert manner and was directed in response to CTF 76 msg 260105Z Sep 1967.
Pre-deployment Preparation. TUNNY was at the U.S. Naval Base, Subic Bay, for six days proceeding deployment for this mission. Three days were devoted to voyage repairs following a transit from Yokosuka, Japan. The remaining three days were spent conducting training exercises with Detachment ‘C”, UDT-11. This training included dry and wet deck launches and recoveries, bottomed swimmer lockout and lockin operations, and vectoring practice. These evolutions were conducted both night and day. Upon completion of training and provisioning, TUNNY departed Subic Bay on 5 October 1967 with Detachment “C” UDT-11 embarked. The transit across the South China Sea was marked by heavy weather.
8 October. TUNNY arrived off NIS 2. Due to 8-10 foot waves, 15-20 knot winds, occasional rain and poor visibility the proposed recon of NIS (North Sector) was postponed.
9 October. 8-12 ft. waves and 20-30 kt. Winds precluded a UDT survey. A photo recon of NIS 2 (South Sector) was attempted from a range of 5600 yards however the results obtained were too poor to gather any useful information due to bad visibility. Despite heavy weather depth control was good enough to allow operating submerged with 15 feet of water under the keel.
10 October. An underway photo panorama was obtained from 3000 yards off NIS 2 (North Sector) in the morning. The results obtained were again too poor to be useful due to low visibility. At 1028H, immediately following completion of the photography, an armed helicopter of the Army “huey” type was observed firing into the water 2000 yards astern of the periscope. TUNNY was then on course 310T, speed 3 kts. at a depth of 55 feet with 10/15 feet under the keel, with #1 scope up. The apparent firing axis was 90 degrees to TUNNY’s course. TUNNY immediately turned seaward with periscopes down. The gunfire continued and was distinctly heard on the BQR-2B sonar and the UQC underwater telephone. Five minutes later, when the firing had stopped a quick scope observation showed the Huey flying across the stern with the starboard door gunner commencing to fire in the direction of the periscope which was immediately lowered. Depth of water under the keel at this time was 154 ft. TUNNY continued to open seaward and random gunfire could be heard for he net 15 minutes. Observation showed the first helo had been joined by a second. Both helos had remained in the area where the shooting had commenced and were not trailing TUNNY. The helos ceased firing and opened to the North. Throughout this action a PCF was patrolling in the area. Attempts were made to contact the helos or any Market Time unit on 301 mcs. When the periscope was exposed. Communications were established with CTF 115 on ckt. S2a and a report of the incident made to him.
At 1800 TUNNY bottomed 2810 yards seaward of the right flank of NIS 2 (North Sector). At this time the swells were 6-8 feet shoreward with a cross current of 2 kts. to the south. TUNNY was ballasted 56,000 lbs. heavy to stay on the bottom, but the weather was such that she was lifted by the swells and turned by the current until she was 90 degrees from the heading on which she bottomed. UDT could not operate in these conditions and the survey of the beach was cancelled.
Shortly after bottoming another helo was seen firing at the water, 3000 yards seaward. TUNNY was definitely not the target at this time. AT 2015 TUNY unbottomed and opened seaward for a transit to NIS 8.
CO’s Comment: my immediate thought following this afternoon’ firing incident was that TUNNY was being attacked by the helos after they had seen my periscope during the photo recon. After considering that PHU BAI airfield is only 7 miles inland from NIS 2, and that the near by PCF did not join the helos in shooting our way, I began to suspect that this was just a random test of the helo’s guns at which TUNNY was a very close range spectator. The firing observed this evening confirmed my evaluation. At a subsequent rendezvous with the CTG 1154.1 Operations Officer it was learned that a helo attack on an object in our area had not be reported to his office, the “clearing house” for al off shore targets. Additionally it was learned that the aircraft’s rules of engagement preclude immediate attacks on any contact at sea without first obtaining clearance to do so.
11 October. TUNNY bottomed 630 yards off the right flank of NIS 8 at 1433. A sweep photo panorama was obtained from this position. Conditions were acceptable for lockout operations and 20 UDT swimmers with three IBS were locked out by 2230. The IBS were vectored to the beach but upon deploying the swimmers it became apparent that a survey could not be conducted. There was a strong northerly littoral current at the surf zone with 15 kts of on-shore wind. The surf zone was 200 yards wide with 6-8 foot breakers 50% plunging, 4 seconds period. The swimmers were recovered and the IBS vectored back to the periscope. TUNNY unbottomed; backed seaward with the boat I tow and we deck recovered the IBS without further incident at 0308.
12 October. A rendezvous with CTG 115.1 Operations Officer was made at 0623. Measures to avoid mutual interference were discussed and he was thoroughly briefed on our intentions. Current intelligence on our objective beaches was obtained. On completion of the rendezvous TUNNY transited to NIS 9.
A successful submerged approach was made and TUNNY bottomed 2900 yards off NIS 9. A sweep photo panorama was obtained at 1650.
The UDT were locked out by 2050 and were vectored to the left flank. On completion of their survey they were vectored back to TUNNY, periscope towed to sea and wet deck recovered without incident.
CO’s Comment: Today’s operation was a classic in simplicity and accuracy. Weather and sea conditions moderated, which along with favorable geographic position of the objective beach enable this recon to be successfully completed.
21 October. At 1529 TUNNY bottomed 5900 yards off NIS 14 and conducted a sweep photo recon. The long range to the beach precluded paddling the entire distance by the UDT therefore at 2015 TUNNY battle surfaced, dry deck launched three motorized IBS and rebottomed in place in 13 minutes. The UDT were vectored to the beach., completed a survey and were vectored back to the ship.
CO’s Comment. A new vectoring range of 5900 yards was established. Previously the greatest distance for vectoring UDT was 4200 yards. A unique display of ingenuity using the equipment on hand was necessary to accomplish this. The technique of using pingers and a NAE jammer is discussed in Comments and Recommendations section.
14 October. At 0245, the UDT having returned, TUNNY battle surfaced, recovered the motorized IBS and opened seaward.
The weather grew progressively worse throughout the day. An underway photo panorama was obtained of NIS 15 at 1400.
At 1423 TUNNY bottomed 3080 yards off NIS 15. The long range again necessitated motorized IBS. TUNNY battle surfaced at 2113 and dry deck launched three IBS. The weather was poor with 4-8 ft. seas and 20 kts. of wind, marginal conditions but it was agreed to try for the beach. TUNNY bottomed in place but the IBS rapidly ran into difficulty. One motor stopped and could not be restarted. The boats were swept south by the wing and only with difficulty made it back up to TUNNY. Following a battle surface, the IBS were recovered and TUNNY opened seaward.
15 October. At 0530 while lying to surfaced off NIS 17 TUNNY was detected at a range of 30,000 yards on radar by USS WILHOITE (DER 397) in here Market Time patrol area. When TUNNY submerged at 0609 she was evaluated as a “sinker” by WILHOITE at a range of 15,000. WILHOITE closed to investigate. TYUNNY commenced snorkeling but when WILHOITE had closed to 7,000 yards snorkeling was secured. WILHOITE had not detected the snorkel on radar but gained sonar contact at 2000 yards following a search plan executed at datum. TUNNY identified herself by UQU at 0709 following “UNCLE Joe” by WILHOITE.
16 October. At 0800 TUNNY was submerged off NIS 20. Although the swells off NIS 20 were 6-8 ft., the wind was slight. Duet to the high swells an accurate surf observation by periscope could not be obtained. In order to make a decision to conduct or cancel a survey of this beach, a good surf observation was necessary. TUNNY opened seaward, surfaced, and contacted a near-by PCF. At 1040 the UDT OinC and leading petty officer boarded the PCF which proceeded to the beach.. Observation showed the surf zone to be 100 yards wide, breakers 6-9 ft. high, 50% spilling and a strong southerly current. A UDT recon could not be conducted covertly in these conditions with any accuracy or required degree of safety. The UDT men were returned to TUNNY who remained off shore waiting for better weather. By 2000 the winds were from 095 at 15 knots, seas 095 state 2 and swells 7-10 ft. The proposed survey of NIS 20 (North Sector) was postponed.
17 October. At 1100 an underway photo panorama of NIS 20 (North Sector) and NIS 20 (South Sector) was obtained at a range of 1500 yards. At this range thee was 45-50 ft. of water under the keel at all times due to a steep gradient. Sea Conditions were the same as the previous night although the wind had increased to 20 kts. The breakers could be seen crashing on the beach. During the photo recon TUNNY rolled 6-10 degrees in the trough and bucked a 2 kt. southerly current. A sweep panorama of the entire length of NIS 20 was obtained at a range of 3500 yards off beach center. As conditions would not permit a UDT survey, TUNNY commenced a snorkel transit to NIS 22.
18 October. A sweep photo panorama was obtained of NIS 22 from a range of 3600 yards at 1100. Breakers could be seen crashing on the beach with spray flying 20 ft. in the air. Winds were from 340 degrees speed 26 kts, seas from 340 degrees State 3. It was obvious a UDT survey could not be conducted in these conditions. The mission was terminated and course set for Subic Bay.
April and May 1968: USS TUNNY (APSS-282) SPECOPS Deployment #7 (16 April 1968 to 3 May 1968)
References: CTG 70.9 MovOrd 149-68 and 178-68
Commanding Officer: Commander John F. Tate, USN
The following are positions of the USS TUNNY (APSS-282) extracted from Tunny's Deck Logs by Robert W. White. The positions bolded in red are those located within the 12NM territorial limits of the RVN coastline.
Positions below were extracted from Tunny's Deck Logs and are provided to support above plots. If actual logs are needed, please contact David Buehn. To create your own plot(s). Google Earth was used for these images.
The following chart was produced "for effect" and created to along with the foregoing. This chart shows Tunny's position was 1,292 yards (by Bob's calculations using Google Earth) from the RVN Beach.
The following two issues relative to USS Tunny Veterans being exposed to Agent Orange chemicals during the Vietnam War include:
(2) The Veterans Administration must add the USS Tunny (APSS/LPSS-282) to its list titled Navy and Coast Guard Ships Associated with Service in Vietnam and Exposure to Herbicide Agents published on March 1, 2019. This list is also known unofficially as the “Brown Water Ship’s List”.
https://www.va.gov/shiplist-agent-orange.pdf, accessed 6/2/2019
It is clear that the Veterans Administration puts the "burden of proof" on the veteran to provide the evidence that Tunny was within 12NM of the RVN in order to be considered for compensation. In the case of substantiating Bob White's being onboard Tunny at the time, here are his personnel diary (muster report) entries: (Date of Entry and activity recorded) which were extracted from Ray Olszewski's Tunny Personnel Database. The highlighted entries are dates of Tunny's SPECOPS Deployments which are not contained in the muster reports. These were for effect as well to show that Radioman White was on board Tunny when it conducted ten (10) SPECOP Deployments as noted.
The following are images of typical UDT Operations that depict a Lockout and a Wet Deck Launch performed by USS Tunny (APSS and LPSS-282) during its time serving in Southeast Asia when its mission was to support Unconventional Warfare Operations. One can clearly see that Tunny was on the surface during these operations. These operations included both members of UDT/SEAL teams and select personnel of the USS TUNNY. A list of those former Tunny crewmembers who performed these operations follows the images. The images shown are all included in USS TUNNY: A History, Tribute, and Memoir by Raymond Vance Olszewski. Refer to Chapter Eleven.
According to the USS TUNNY (APSS-282) 1967 Command History, there were a total of 1,224 Lockout/Lockin cycles conducted. See the attached copy of Tunny's Command History by clicking here. During the last SPECOPS that took place between 5 and 14 May 1969, the very last lock in on the Tunny was number 3,860 performed by RD3 Walter "Mole" Roberts of Burley, Idaho. Roberts was a member of the UDT Det 13, Det "C". Special thanks go to Steve Waterman, a former Navy Diver and Photographer's Mate, from South Thomaston, Maine who wrote an article entitled "The Last Vietnam SDV Operation Off the USS TUNNY (LPSS-282). This article was published in the June 1996, Soldier of Fortune (SOF) magazine.
The following chart shows all of the SPECOPS deployments made while in Southeast Asia supporting Unconventional Warfare Operations. This chart was extracted from USS TUNNY: A History, Tribute, and Memoir written by Raymond Vance Olszewski.
USS Tunny and other U.S. Navy submarines Support to Unconventional Warfare Operations.
The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) website posted the following information in its article titled: Chapter 3 The Years of Combat, 1965-1968: “…transport submarines Perch (APSS 313), Tunny (APSS 282), and Grayback (LPSS 574) carried Navy underwater demolition teams, SEALs, and South Vietnamese marines to points off prospective landing beaches. Once there, the naval special warfare men silently exited the boats, swam or rowed rubber rafts through the surf, and carried out vital reconnaissance or other special operations ashore.”
In support of the foregoing, the following is extracted from USS TUNNY: A History, Tribute, and Memoir by Raymond Vance Olszewski is provided. This information describes the operations that were performed by members of Tunny's crew. The book is available for purchased directly from the author on his website, www.olszewskienterprises.com.