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Boots On Ground



I have recently filed a claim for exposure to herbicdes while assigned TDY at Korat AFB 72-73. I was a jet engine mechanic and supplied as much supporting documentation that I had. I filed over 2 months ago, talked to the 800 number twice but have not recieved any verification that they have reviewed my claim - I do have a certified delivery receipt showing it was signed for at the mailroom's VARO on Oct 23, 2012.

Yesterday I finally got a reply from NPRC regarding my requests for pay/travel records for my 2 TDY tours to Korat AFB. To my suprise one of my stops was at Ton Son Nhut AFB RVN, it states that I arrived at 1400 and departed 1450. I think if I refile I should use the Boots On Ground approach as opposed to Direct Connection.

Question: Being that my flight shows I was only on the ground for 50 mins, will the VBA decision makers claim that is not considered Boots On Ground?

Should I refile using both Direct Connect and Boots On Ground?

I have had CABG surgery and dx of IHD.

Edited by x020574 (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

If you can prove you had "boots on the ground" then file for "boots on the ground" and Direct Connect. I think you are very lucky you have that documentation showing you were at TSN.

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It was a surprise to me... since my documentation only states that I served in Thailand and didn't specify which location. Hoping to avoid any contentions, I wrote to NPRC and provided the dates of TDY and requested any Pay or Travel records hoping to prove I was at Korat AFB. Little did I know I did stop in RVN - hey, it was 40 years ago, I'm lucky i can remember my wife's name today!

I'm worried they will argue that it was only 50 minutes - am I worring for nothing? I have heard 'if you only touch your big toe on the ground and jump back on the plane, you are considered boots on the ground' - is that really true?

Thank you for the quick response!

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  • HadIt.com Elder

You can send the VA "supplementary information". Since you originally filed in October 2012, I doubt that your claim has even been looked at.

The presumptive classification applies. Unfortunately, due to the filing date, you will not come under the Nehmer rules.

You do have "feet on ground" status, based upon what you said concerning your pay records, etc.

You're very fortunate. Most are unable to provide such detail. For example, my records show "boots on ground" because of medical records from an in Vietnam medical facility. Although I flew from Vietnam to Japan under orders, that does not show up in my records. I'd bet that a handful of Marines (If they are still around) that were on gate guard duty at Yokosuka one evening still remember us for climbing out of a cab in "field uniforms", under arms, etc. There was a bit of a hassle, until we told the guards that the orders called for "under arms" and no delay. Further, that our weapons were loaded, and theirs were not. As we left the guard OOD's office, he started in on the guards.

Something about don't mess with armed service men coming back from Vietnam, and fools with unloaded weapons. The hassle started because we were technically "out of authorized uniform" for Japan, as well as carrying weapons in "public transport". This came about because we had flown to Japan on a guard C-141, which landed after military transportation was available. "Customs" was at another location, so we were "signed off" as crew by the aircraft commander.

My records also show "combat veteran" status, which the VA has so far ignored.

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We have considerable info here at hadit on Thailand vets.

This contains the most recent VA Bulletin on the dates and places VA has conceded AO exposure in, depending on MOS:

"Being that my flight shows I was only on the ground for 50 mins, will the VBA decision makers claim that is not considered Boots On Ground?"

They better not. In a 50 minutes stop over,it is quite possible you could have left the plane to stretch your legs,have a smoke, or relieve yourself as it was probably a refueling pit stop.

VA tried to CUE themselves to drop compensation they had already awarded to a Brown Water Vietnam vet many years ago, who joined hadit, around the time I joined.....due to no boots on ground.

I helped him prove one foot on Vietnamese soil.

(He really only had one foot (one boot) on Vietnamese soil,not two- and only for a minute or two.)

VA dropped their reduction idea.

The proof of the RVN stopover might help you more than the Thailand regs. I would send them anything you have on both potential reasons to SC you.

Since those days ,with the Brown Water vet I mentioned, many Brown Waters and some Blue Waters have succeeded in their AO claims. And Many Thailand AO vets have too.

I got some AO ship's list info yesterday and will put it into the AO forum today.

Edited by Berta (see edit history)
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  • HadIt.com Elder

It wouldn't surprise me if they asked for actual proof of you getting off the airplane, ie: boots on the ground, in which case you may need to show some kind of protocol that passengers needed to exit the aircraft during ground refueling. just sayin . . . I guess it'll depend on the rater's mood that day. Sad but true.


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They might but that could be challenged.

For example

A Blue Water Navy advocate I know is the widow of a Vietnam Navy AO veteran.I met her when I joined BWNVVA on line years ago and she told me her story.

She proved her husband had been on COD flights (Cargo delivery) from his ship to Vietnam,then he returned to the carrier.

Whether or not he had actually left the COD plane during these deliveries or pick ups was not the issue as the BVA stated:

“in light of statements from others who served in and

around Vietnam, including pilots who flew COD flights-which,

when taken together, tended to show that servicemen

ordinarily arrived on mid-cruise carriers via COD flights and

that, due to fuel/range limitations and other considerations,

COD flights from Cubi Point ordinarily stopped in Vietnam

before continuing on to the destination carrier-the Board

found that the evidence demonstrated to a reasonable

likelihood that the Veteran had actual duty or visitation in


Proof of “Visitation” itself , is often just as good as 'boots on the ground.'

Unfortunately this widow had a very long and miserable ordeal to get her DIC.Se didnt know of us at hadit at the time.

She had to get buddy statements and lots of other information. I think she had a BVA hearing as well -but we widows can be quite tenacious in gathering evidence.!

She is now an integral part of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Association along with John Rossie and all who are fighting for Blue Water Veterans equity regarding AO.

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Just to add this case is similar to the veteran here:


"1. The veteran had verified active service from September

1967 to September 1991, including verified service in

Thailand; the veteran has provided competent and credible

evidence that he visited Vietnam, once in 1970 and once in



Service connection for prostate cancer is granted."


Prove of "Visitation" is the key in many BVA decisions.

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Wow... thank you all for the support. I am going to go to the VARO (not too far from min 20-30min) and make sure a copy of these documents get put into my c-file. Then I'll sit back and wait a long-time for a decision... I will post back whenever one is made.

Thanks again, it sounds encouraging that I might not have to argue with them as to whether I was 'close enough' to the perimeter fence. Notice how they never gave anyone a difinetive measurement as to what is 'near' or not... hmmm... sounds shady to me.

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Being that you are physically going to your VARO to submit this evidence,

I suggest listing the evidence on a 21-4138 as a cover letter, attaching a COPY

of the evidence to it and requesting a Date Stamped Copy at the VARO when you

submit this.

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Carlie is right. She always gives good advice!

Yes, they never did define the "near" factor. Yippie.

I spoke recently with Kurt Priessman, the very first AO Thailand vet, whose work is directly responsible for the AO Thailand directives and for the success of many AO Thailand claimants.

Kurt did a SVR show via hadit on AO Thailand on May 26th, 2010 and available here.


Scroll down to the 5-26-2010 show , then just click on the sound icon,which will download the show to your media player.It might be helpful to you.

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Being that you are physically going to your VARO to submit this evidence,

I suggest listing the evidence on a 21-4138 as a cover letter, attaching a COPY

of the evidence to it and requesting a Date Stamped Copy at the VARO when you

submit this.

Will do... Thank You.

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My travel orders have been added to my claim along with a 21-4138 as you suggested. The claim is in the 'under review' stage.

I am assuming most vets who had service in RVN have it noted on their DD214. This might seem like a silly question, but should I file to have my DD214 updated to reflect service in RVN... would it make it easier for submitting future presumptive claims? (I'm very close to DMII and a host of secondaries from that). My current DD214 only shows Thailand service.

Also, do I need to make the VA medical center where I get treatment aware of service in RVN? If so, how would I do that? I am not sure if there is any medical care benefit and/or precedence to RVN AO exposured veterans. I am scheduled, by my request, for an AO registry appointment in Jan/2013.

Thank you for your advice and guidence.

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