SACRAMENTO – Like so many others who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, U.S. Army Specialist 5 Adrienne Lee Schamp was exposed to Agent Orange, a powerful herbicide used to defoliate forests and crops that provided cover for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops.
She worked in Army finance at Long Binh and in Saigon with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam’s 7th Finance during her four-year stint.
Later, Agent Orange was determined to cause cancer, heart disease, birth defects, and psychological and neurological problems not only for the Vietnamese, but also for returning U.S. service members and their families. Consequently, while 58,220 Americans were killed in action during the Vietnam War, many others died years – and in some cases decades – later from injuries or diseases incurred during their service there.
Schamp died in Los Angeles at 51 in 2001, from a heart ailment attributed to Agent Orange, and is among those who brought home the residues and residuals of war.
In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 287, which allowed the names of those who died later from Vietnam War-related diseases or injuries to be added to the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Capitol Park. Through 2018, some 5,676 names in all had been etched into the Memorial.
At noon Sunday, 20 more will join them. Schamp’s name, along with the names 19 others, will be unveiled. The event is expected to draw well over 200 family and friends of those being honored. These veterans all died from injuries or ailments linked to their respective tours of duty in Vietnam.
Schamp, however, is the only woman among the 5,696 whose names are engraved on California’s Memorial. Eight women – all nurses – were killed in action in Vietnam, none from California. Under the law, however, Schamp becomes California’s first and only woman deemed to be a Vietnam War casualty.
According to her family members, Schamp returned from her two tours of duty to open a home for Vietnamese refugees. She went on to earn her teaching credential at Sacramento State, and later became a Sacramento Sheriff’s deputy.
She moved to southern California, where she became the first woman police officer in the city of Imperial Beach, and took her passion for helping troubled youths to the California Youth Authority.
Schamp died June 21, 2001, and is buried in the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery at Santa Nella.
CalVet honors Schamp and all of the men and Women who bravely served in Vietnam and every other U.S. conflict:
SP4 Paul J. Boehle, Army
SP4 Gary C. Colvin, Army
SP5 John R. Davis III, Army
CTOC Donald E. Dickerson, Navy
SGT Jesse A. Edwards, Marines
ABH3 Richard C. Gaynor, Army
SP5 Ronald D. Hiebert, Army
SP5 Thurman L. Horton, Army
CPL William D. Hutchison, Marines
MSG John G. Johnson, Army
PO1 Steven D. Johnson, Navy
SP4 James P. Kahn, Army
SSGT Richard L Kerksieck, Air Force
SGT Lynn E. Mason, Army
CPL Peter L. Mateo, Marines
SP4 Thomas D. McGaughey, Army
SP4 Michale R. Salleng, Army
SP5 Adrienne L. Schamp, Army
SGT Salvador A. Silva, Army
SGT Joseph P. Vassar, Marines