USS Benjamin Stoddert DDG-22 & USS Jupiter AVS-8 Association
Tom's Message 09/07

Tom O'Donnell 67-69 who has been battling cancer, sent this letter and information, which was read at the reunion dinner.  We keep Tom in our thoughts and prayers.

Tom O'Donnell, Jim Hinton & Ted Waypa

103 Cambridge Court
Saint Charles, IL  60174
September 11, 2007

Dear Chief Chambers,

I hope this finds you well.  I thought I would write to you and let you know of some information that has come my way.

I attended the first reunion of the U.S.S. Benjamin Stoddert in October, 2005 in St. Louis and had an absolutely wonderful time.  I don't know if you remember me, but I was the person who recently had his tongue removed because of cancer and was unable to speak and had to write down everything to communicate.  Since then I have had many ups and downs concerning my cancer.  In September, 2006 the doctors noted that I had several tumors near my pharynx.  I came through the surgery o.k., but during my long time on the operating table, the oxygen supply was cut off to the optic nerve in my eyes and I am now blind in both eyes.

In the last year, several people who have worked at the Veterens Administration here in Illinois have mentioned that my initial cancer may have been caused by exposure to Agent Orange.  I recently met with a representative of the VA and was told that, indeed, my case of recurrent cancer may be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.  Even though I never set foot on Vietnamese soil, the Stoddert did anchor in Da Nang harbor on many occasions in 1969.  The representative from the VA said that Agent Orange was airborne and I could have been exposed to it in that manner.

I have received a list of diseases from the VA that have been diagnosed in veterens of the Viet Nam era.  According to the VA these diseases can be caused by exposure to Agent Orange.  I was hoping to bring this information to the reunion this year, but I am unable to attend because of ongoing chemotherapy.  Please share this information with my fellow shipmates.

Have fun and hope to see you next year.


Tom O'Donnell, RD2

Nancy & Tom O'Donnell, Jim & Sue Hinton St. Louis 2005