Agent Orange is the code name adapted from the color of the orange-striped barrels the chemical was shipped in, for an herbicide and defoliant that was used by the U. S. Military in its Herbicidal Warfare program during the Vietnam War. In 1963, the United States initiated a study on the health effects of Agent Orange that, by 1967, confirmed that the chemical caused cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems. Shortly after serving in Vietnam, veterans began to report various health complications that could be traced to their exposure to Agent Orange. Vietnam veterans and their families, who brought an Agent Orange lawsuit 25 years ago, alleged that the government "is just waiting for us all to die."
On June 8, 1969 Billee Shoecraft was engulfed in a mist of phenoxy herbicide, a chemical found in Agent Orange, being sprayed from a U.S. Forest Service helicopter flying over her home at the base of the Pinal Mountains near Globe, Arizona. In her book, SUE THE BASTARDS, Billee tells the story of what happened from that fateful day in June of 1969, until she slapped the United States Forest Service and 4 herbicide manufacturers with a 4.5 million dollar lawsuit. This is a multi-layered story of laughs and tears; of incredible bureaucratic bungling at all levels of government and industrial circles; of disillusionment, anger and contempt; of whitewashing, cover-ups, alibis, conceit and crass ignorance; and even of a few knights in shining armor.
Billee Shoecraft died of cancer in 1977, but the story of her heroic efforts to get justice, not only for herself, but for all those exposed to the dangerous chemicals found in Agent Orange, lives on in her book, SUE THE BASTARDS.