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Tiếng Việt

Victims of Agent Orange

Admiral Elmo Zam Waly (US Military) was the person who ordered the spraying of Agent Orange on the war zones in South Vietnam where his son - Lieutenant Elom Zam Waly was on duty. The actions of Elmo Zam Waly not only caused catastrophe for the Vietnamese people and millions of Vietnamese children, but also seriously poisoned his own son and his grandchildren.

Admiral Elmo Zam Waly (US Military) was the person who ordered the spraying of Agent Orange on the war zones in South Vietnam where his son - Lieutenant Elom Zam Waly was on duty. The actions of Elmo Zam Waly not only caused catastrophe for the Vietnamese people and millions of Vietnamese children, but also seriously poisoned his own son and his grandchildren.

In his book, Elmo Zam Waly confesses his family\'s misfortune and tragedy. A section of the book reads: “Among the mistakes of my life, the action that I took in Vietnam was the worst, most painful one. I did not expect it to destroy my family so badly. My son: Elom Zam Waly came back from the battlefield of South Vietnam, got married, gave birth, and developed cancer. Elom\'s child, my grandson, was born with a deformed body. Looking at him, I blamed myself: “It’s me who cause your tragedy”. His father, Elom Zam Waly, saw him struggle in tears. Before his death, Elom confided: “If you had not ordered to carpet South Vietnam with Agent Orange, my life wouldn’t have been like this. My son, your grandson, wouldn’t have had that scary body. I know that millions of Vietnamese people are struggling, suffering, and dying tragically because of your Agent Orange ... But Dad, sometimes I wonder if you had known about this disaster, and you had rejected that order, do you believe that me and your grandson would avoid such this tragedy? No way, Dad. If you hadn’t issued that order, there would have been another admiral doing the job, and me, my son and millions of Vietnamese people would still be unable to avoid this terrible disaster.

I think your penance is too late now. There is no chance to save my life, and your grandson, but you can still save many others. As the former Admiral who directly caused the disaster in Vietnam, you should go to the White House, petition to the US Government that: Never conduct chemical warfare on this earth again, and that: The government must be accountable to the families of American servicemen who came back from Vietnam War with toxic chemical wound, as well as to the Vietnamese victims. Only by doing so, can you reduce part of your sins and feel at ease at the end of your life...”.

Looking at Elom Zam Waly confessing with tears, I could not hold back my tears and did not think my son can have that deep thoughts. After Elom’s death, I went into the White House to review the map of the areas I ordered to spray herbicide. I did not expect that clearing the forest to find and destroy the Viet Cong would cause such terrible consequences.

From the map, I imagined the spectacle of orange fire covering tens of thousands of houses and forests below. There, human life and creature were destroyed. I knew that even if I repent a hundred thousand times, I cannot wash away what people usually call the Agent Orange crime, committed by us, the Americans. We must be accountable for our crime. Just as my son Elom Zam Waly once confided: The US government cannot ignore the disaster of my family and the American soldiers in the Vietnam War. We can’t be irresponsible for millions of Vietnamese people who are dying in Agent Orange pain caused by the American, either.

Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, a war general who is spending the rest of his life caring for the victims nationwide. He told us that from 1961 to 1971, the US Air Force conducted 19,000 sorties and sprayed more than 80 million liters of herbicides, containing extremely toxic dioxin, down onto 26,000 villages in South Vietnam, causing serious disasters to the ecological environment and eliminating human life. Currently, over 3 million Vietnamese people are victims of Agent Orange, more than 4.8 million were exposed to the chemical. Millions of people have died, millions of others, including their descendants, are struggling with illnesses day after day, year after year because of the Agent Orange disaster. Many families have three or four generations sharing the same pain. The grandfather went to the battlefield and was directly poisoned. He then returned from war and passed the chemical to his next generations.

Professor Vu Quy, a scientist with more than 30 years studying dioxin consequences, exclaimed: There is no such pain like the pain of Agent Orange. It pushes people into extreme circumstances. Dioxin, a type of toxin that is inherited through the viscera, is poisonous for life after life. Dozens of dangerous diseases torture the infected people to death, and their descendants as well.

After more than 10 years of facing the enemy in the front, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh has become a helping hand for millions of Agent Orange victims. As the President of the Association, he devoted himself to caring and protecting their interests. VAVA has continuously acted, launched protests for justice, heard the consequences of Agent Orange in the US Congress, mobilised international support, brought Vietnamese victims to America for struggle; coordinated with the World Democratic Lawyers Association to open a court of justice in Paris, judging 37 US chemical companies and accusing the US governments of being accountable for carpeting the toxic chemical in Vietnam; mobilize the support of people and social organizations for the victims; proposed to the Party and State and functional agencies favourable treatments for people with meritorious services who are victims of Agent Orange, etc.

Meeting the American witnesses, we came to realise that they used chemical weapons to destroy Vietnamese people, and their fate was equally pathetic. Veteran Briamd Money, who used to fight in South Vietnam during the 1966-1968 period, was one of the victims of Agent Orange sprayed by his American comrades where he was stationed. We met him in the city of Boston, USA, Briamd said: Among the American soldiers and advisers returning from Vietnam, tens of thousands were infected with Agent Orange. They suffer from cancer, diabetes and many monstrous diseases, and they are dying. Their offspring also suffer from many serious diseases, such as: teratogenic, deformity, cerebral hydrocephalus, paralysis, and are also dying in pain. Many US veterans from Vietnam suffer from a mental disorder called \"Vietnam symptom” which is said to be derived from Dioxin contamination.

Briamd said:

- When I started to know I had Parkinson, my doctor told me that it was the result of Agent Orange exposure. The illness made me increasingly painful, depressed, and very hard to walk. I know a lot of Vietnamese people are suffering like me. I want to make everyone realize that: Dioxin exposure will affect several generations. People like me and my friends, returning from the Vietnam battlefield, will pass the diseases on my wife and my children, causing endless pain and death.

Briamd went on that:

- The US Veterans\' Organization conducted an investigation and found that a very large percentage of American veterans who fought in Vietnam were exposed Agent Orange and suffered to cancer and Parkinson\'s disease like me, etc. The US government has compensated for victims. As far as I know, exposure to Agent Orange can lead to many dangerous illnesses and death is inevitable. You can read and see how the Washington administration has been criticized. The US Government must hold accountability for this. They are working on a number of remedial projects and trying to improve the allowance package for the victims.

Veteran Prestong who lives in New Hampshire state with his friends, use to fight in Da Nang and the Central Highlands between 1965 and 1967. When their service ended, returning to the United States, many American veterans have destroyed two or three generations of their descendants.

Veteran Prestong has died, and his daughter Molly Lynwat was also unable to escape her fate. During the seminar on “Anti-war” held by the William Joiner Institute in Boston, we had the opportunity to meet and interview Molly Lynwat. She said (through a translator) that:

My father spent his last days in great pain. Seeing him writhing, struggling, his teeth clenched, suppressing the pain, I could only cry. Before that, I thought, my father had passed all the toxins in his body to me and my son, so he would survive. I couldn’t believe that the toxin was so dangerous. It killed my father.

As for me, since my birth to the age of 15, I did not have any special symptoms, just a light pain in the neck and spine areas and, I sometimes felt short of breath. When I was 20 years old, got married, gave birth to my children, the disease broke out. My neck was curled down, my eyes bulged, my limbs shrank ... My son was born in an abnormal shape with curled limbs and twisted head and neck like me. My son and me own our life today to the help of the Government and doctors. Such care and help can’t cure the disease, but they help strengthen our energy and determination. I know that a lot of Vietnamese children are suffering from Agent Orange consequences with even more terrible pain than my children. As an insider, I once asked for our Government’s support for Vietnamese children who suffer from consequences of Agent Orange caused by the US Government.

Veteran Preston Woot is living in the US state of Maine. He used to serve in the US Military and sprayed the poison in the A Sau, A Luoi war zones, Thua Thien - Hue province and Da Nang Airport between 1964 and 1966. Returning to Maine, the United States, Presston married and gave birth, but three times his wife gave birth, the couple were scared and confused because of the strange fetuses. Preston Woot went to see a doctor, and the doctor found that the concentration of toxin in his blood was 158-PPT positive which was 60 times higher than the normal person. The culprit of his deformed children was this toxin. He shuddered when thinking about the time he transported the herbicides at Danang Airport before the sprays. The poison had seeped in his body and then killed his wife and children.

In 2019, veteran Preston Woot and his wife, Mathas Collin, went to Vietnam in a charity campaign to share with the Agent Orange victims, hoping to alleviate his obsession and torment for the past years. After nearly 10 days in the central provinces, he and his wife returned to the North. Coming to Thai Binh, he was taken to Bac Trong village where many children were infected with toxins from their parents. He first visited the family of veteran Lai Van Hang - who was poisoned in the battlefield of the Central Highlands. His daughter, Lai Thi Ha who was more than 30 years old, stayed naked, standing huddled and shaking, with her hands clinging to the iron cot. That is the aftermath of the poison from her father. Ha has been kept in a crib for more than 30 years.

Mr. Preston Wool and his wife stood by the crib, listened to the interpreter and watched Ha. Mr. Preston could not imagine that the American herbicide was so horrible as pushing the victim into such situation. His body was shaking, unsteadily, and his face turned gray. Mr. Lai Van Hang hurriedly helped him and said: Don\'t be afraid, we won\'t harm you. When you return to America, remember to tell your government never to cause a chemical war in Vietnam again. My child is a human being, but because of you, she can’t enjoy a human life. Your government must be accountable to me, my daughter, and the victims in this Bac Trong village.

Mr. Preston awoke, nodded his head, looked at everyone with a sense of peace and holiness. He did not expect a people with victims suffering the pain right beside him could be extremely benevolent. They not only forgave him - who caused the pain to their family, but also kindly reminded him when he returned to America.

When he parted the villagers, suddenly Ha\'s hands swung the bars, jerked the crib and screamed. Her scream sounded like the echoes of the past./.


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