Veteran advocates for others as part of 48-state mission

By By Joshua Dillen August 30, 2013 10:54 am

S. John Collins / Baker City Herald Tim King, right, talks about the importance of his 48-state mission,

By Joshua Dillen

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“Operation Red Dragonfly” has made it to Baker City as a former Marine rides across the country advocating for veterans’ health.

Tim King is on a 48-state mission that aims to inform America about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other hazards of military service.

King, a journalist and news editor of the Salem-News, has been traveling throughout the U.S. on a 1998 Suzuki Bandit to speak with veterans about their issues with PTSD. King is recording footage and interviews for a documentary he said will be aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting. The film will be titled “War and PTSD.”

King stopped in Baker City Wednesday to interview Don Sexton.

Sexton, a four-tour veteran of the Vietnam War, is the publisher of a blog about PTSD. He was awarded a Bronze Star, Silver Star and a Distinguished Flying Cross.  Sexton flew the most combat missions in a combat helicopter as a crew chief.

“I have PTSD. The government is not telling us what the psychiatry industry knows about diagnosing, preventing and treating of it,” Sexton said.

After he interviewed Sexton, King was very impressed with Sexton’s knowledge of PTSD and the tragedy of military suicides.

“Don has an amazing ability to convey the essential information about PTSD and suicide prevention,” King said. “His presentation makes more sense than any information I’ve been exposed to.” 

Besides speaking to veterans organizations and media outlets about PTSD, there is another issue that all military personnel face that he wants the public to know about.

“Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chemical degreaser used on all military bases,” King said. “It causes cancer and a host of other problems.”

According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, the cancer epidemiology for

TCE has grown in recent years with several large, well-designed studies being published. 

TCE is a known carcinogen, according to the EPA. Learn more about the chemical at

King was exposed to TCE during his peacetime service at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro near Irvine, Calif. He said the chemical is multi-generational, meaning it can affect children of those exposed to it.

“I almost lost two of my children to it,” King said.

One of his children had a collapsed bowel at 4 months of age and the other had a grossly oversize epiglottis (the flap of elastic cartilage attached to the voice box).

“Birth defects of those nature are consistent with exposure to TCE,” King said.

King is the co-author of “BETRAYAL — Toxic Exposure of U.S. Marines, Murder, and Government Cover-up.” 

For more information about “Operation Red Dragonfly,” visit

To read Sexton’s blog go to


Updated Sept. 6, 2013.