Fort Leonard Wood Asbestos Case

Ed Maupin came to me after he had already appealed the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claim. I took look at his case and realized that he did not belong in the Court. So we took the case out of the Court and went back before the Board of Veterans Appeals. That’s where we are today, working to prove that he was exposed to asbestos and Agent Orange at Fort Leonard Wood.

A key piece of evidence we continue to search for is other soldiers who may have seen asbestos at Fort Leonard Wood as well as potentially Agent Orange. Apparently, the Chemical School was stationed for a time at Fort Leonard Wood and prior to 1966 the school was responsible for training forces in the use of herbicides. Mr. Maupin said he saw herbicides used along a six-mile pipeline that was being laid as part of training program. It raises a provocative question: Was Agent Orange present at Fort Leonard Wood?

Mr. Maupin served in the U.S. Army from July 1958 to July 1960. He was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Fort Leonard Wood is located in south central Missouri. See report available at The facility occupies about 71,000 acres. Id.  It was activated on January 1, 1941 as a basic training center. Id.  During World Ward II, the Fort trained about 320,000 soldiers.  Id.  In 1943, the base also began to serve as a Prisoner of War facility.  Id.  The base was deactivated briefly in 1946 and then reopened in 1950 as a training facility, in which capacity it has served ever since.  Id.  Fort Leonard Wood has also been home to the Chemical School. Id. The “History of Fort Leonard Wood” by Dr. Larry Roberts, available on Fort Leonard Wood’s website, indicates that from the Korean War onward, Fort Leonard Wood served to provide basic and engineer training. In 1956, about two years before Mr. Maupin arrived, Fort Leonard Wood was designated as the “United States Army Training Center – Engineer.”  Because of this new status and focus on engineering training, the Fort “received substantial funds to replace the wooden construction of World War II-era buildings with permanent brick structures. Construction included major troop barracks complexes, hundreds of military family units, and support and recreational facilities. The construction of the 1950s and 1960s enabled the post to handle the significant increase in training workload brought on by the war in Vietnam.” Id.

Mr. Maupin’s principal role at Fort Leonard Wood was to prepare the fort for combat and engineer training exercises. Part of his job was to monitor on site the demolition of old structures, including wooden barracks, as well as new construction, including recreational facilities. Typically demolition occurred using construction equipment but occasionally they used explosives, Maupin said.  The buildings they tore down were mainly temporary Word Ward II barracks. Mr. Maupin personally observed asbestosis wrapped around the boilers and hot water pipes of these barracks and other structures that were being demolished.  He also recalls inspecting training sites and helping to install asbestos tiles where oil stoves were set in the winter.

Regarding Agent Orange, the DOD commissioned study entitled “The History of the US Department of Defense Programs for the Testing, Evaluation, and Storage of Tactical Herbicides” indicates that prior to 1966, “[t]he training of the Army Chemical Corps personnel to handle herbicides was the responsibility of the Army Chemical Corps Training Center at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.”  The report does specify when the training occurred or the nature of the training in the use herbicides at Ft. Leonard Wood.  But the report does corroborate Mr. Maupin’s account of seeing herbicides deployed around Fort Leonard Wood both for weed control on the base during the summer, and along the six-mile pipeline being laid as a training mission on the base.

If any one who underwent training at Fort Leonard Wood recalls seeing asbestos materials or believes they saw Agent Orange or other herbicides being used or stored there, please contact me at 877.VET.WINS.  Your information might help Mr. Maupin win the day.


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