PHOENIX (KSAZ) - A Valley veteran who served in Vietnam is now asking for help, as he battles some debilitating physical ailments.
"I love the Marine Corps," said Ricky Pyles. He served in the Marines from 1974 to 1983, and was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, Japan during that time. He said nearly three decades after his service, a Neurologist diagnosed him with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Parkinson's Disease.
The doctor said his time in the military may be a factor in why he has developed the two illnesses.
"His opinion was that there was leftover Agent Orange they had shipped to Okinawa, they were using it on the foliage and landscaping, and his opinion was that's why I got the MS," said Pyles.
Agent Orange, which is a defoliant, was used during the Vietnam War to get rid of heavily forested ares where enemy combatants may be hiding. It was also used to wipe out food sources.
According to VA records that are available to the public, more than 200 veterans believe they were poisoned by Agent Orange, while serving in Okinawa. Barrels of the chemical were reportedly stored and buried in the area.
Pyles said he want to the Phoenix VA when he first started having symptoms of MS in 2000, but was not diagnosed with the ailment then.
"If the VA had started him on his medications in 2000 -- they wrote it in his file that he had it and to start meds, but they didn't tell him and didn't start him on it, so he went 10 years," said Pyles' partner, Darlene Jensen. "The VA in Phoenix needs a lot of work."
Pyles was diagnosed in 2010, after he had started to go to the VA Hospital in Prescott for treatment. Now, Pyles wants to move to New Mexico. Neurologists reportedly told Pyle that he would be able to better control his condition there.
"I would really like to be there, so I would live longer," said Pyles.
There is a GoFundMe page set up for Pyles. To learn more, click here.