Aug 26, 2022

George Laughton Claxton: Infantry, Mr. Agent Orange, Badass Veterans' Advocate, Passes Away

George Laughton Claxton
Walled Lake, Michigan
April 4, 1943 - August 22, 2022

Update: Veterans are seeking Claxton's Agent Orange papers to move them to The Vietnam Center and Sam Johnson Vietnam Archive at
Texas Tech.

In veterans' advocacy, there are pretenders.

And there are badasses — determined souls who never give up.

George Claxton was a badass. He passed away on August 22, 2022.

Before the effort George Claxton launched, no veterans or families of veterans exposed to herbicide or chemicals in the Vietnam invasion received any relief for Agent Orange, Dioxin,

As a Vietnam veteran remarked, "After George's litigation, Vietnam Veterans of America’s National Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee, was completed some veterans and some families got some relief.  Considering that he was opposed by the chemical industry, the DoD and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs VA that was no small victory." That's Bob Walsh, Vietnam veteran and fellow veterans' advocate.

George Claxton started the effort that has recently resulted in the opening of the Camp Lejeune water litigation and the PACT Act.


George (DH) Claxton died Monday August 22, 2022 after a lengthy illness.

George was born April 4, 1943 to Pastor John Claxton who preceded him in death. He served his country from 1965-1970.

He served a two year tour of duty in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division (TROPIC LIGHTENING).

He was truly a veterans advocate with particular emphasis on veterans exposed to herbicides in Vietnam. He served for 10 years as State Service Director for Vietnam Veterans of America while serving as Chairman of VVAs National Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee.

He was the second individual plaintiff (in 1983) in the class action suit (MDL-381) pitting Vietnam veterans against the seven (7) chemical companies who manufactured the herbicides and insecticides used in Vietnam. 

His filing (Claxton vs Dow Chemical et al.) was 163 pages long.

In the suit against the VA (Nehmer v. Veterans Administration) he was one of ten plaintiffs who, when the case was decided by Judge Henderson in May 1989, was the beneficiary of the decision that forced the VA to reformulate its Agent Orange adjudication rules.

Within the veteran community, George Claxton was known admirably as Mr. Agent Orange. As far back as 1985, he was boring people to tears with his "million dollar words" Claxton was instrumental in the programming of a cable television show about Agent Orange that aired for over 4 years in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He also appeared on focused programming on Channels 2 and 50 in Detroit and Channel 6 in Lansing, Michigan relative to the subject of Agent Orange and tort claims arising out of exposure in Vietnam.

He also has been the subject of, or has guest-authored articles about this issue in THE DETROIT FREE PRESS, THE LANSING STATE JOURNAL, and USA TODAY. George had the guts to go into prisons and do claims work with incarcerated veterans "long before it was cool to work with incarcerated veterans."

He fought with both the Michigan Department of Corrections and the Veterans’ Administration medical centers in the state over the issue of getting incarcerated veterans transported to the medical centers from the prisons.

Having won that battle, George tackled the problem of prison guards wearing weapons inside the medical center while escorting incarcerated veterans. That was also a win. George discovered barrels of Agent Orange from Dow chemical were stored at the Michigan State Prison in Jackson. This was exposing all inmates and staff as well as re-exposing Vietnam veterans.

He went to the Department of Corrections, no response. He tried to get the 3 television networks to expose the situation. This was a dead end.

Finally, he convinced the DETROIT NEWS to cover the issue. It was a small article toward the back. It was rumored to be the only way the editorial staff could be rid of him.

There was a rally, organized by George, to establish a Michigan Agent Orange Commission.

There were several prominent toxic exposure speakers and a shopping cart filled with oranges labelled dioxin on the Capital steps. The State legislature authorized the Michigan Agent Orange Commission and appointed George as a member.

The commission contracted for a research study of Vietnam veterans, with various jobs in Vietnam, for body burden of the toxins sprayed in Vietnam.

The results proved all "in country" personnel were exposed to the toxins.

Rumor has it that a high school student contacted George for assistance in researching a term paper on Agent Orange. Two days later George gave the student a 25-page paper complete with references and bibliography. The result was nearly a thesis retyped, without typing errors, which the student submitted.

After Vietnam, George increased his education. 1973 Bachelor of Science (with honors) Northern Michigan University. Attended Cooley Law School 1974-1975 and 1978-1980. George authored the MICHIGAN PHYSICANS GUIDE ON AGENT ORANGE.

He participated in "First Citizens Conference on Dioxin" Twice he returned to Vietnam to participate on the "Symposium on Herbicides in War" His peers characterize him as someone who for 30 years plus, gave of himself, 24 hours a day, 7 days each week for something in which he firmly believed and to which he totally committed.

During his retirement due to illness, George would be sitting at his computer searching for research reports on toxins. He assisted attorneys building the brief with the latest research results. If not at his desk, he was traveling at his own expense to educate veteran families concerning the health effects of toxins. He was deeply concerned about the birth defects associated with a parent’s exposure to toxins.

When told President Obama had signed the CHILDREN OF VETERANS TOXIC RESEARCH LAW, he replied, yes we got it. George Claxton was a lifetime member of: Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion, and AMVETS. Unfortunately, George’s health preventing him from understanding that President Biden signed the PACT Law on August 10, 2022.

The provisions of the law are what George worked toward his entire adult life.

No comments:

Post a Comment