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Jun-07-2010 22:22printcomments

Victims of Victims

“Agent Orange is not harmful or deadly to human beings” - said the liars

Orphanage in Da Nang, Vietnam
Photos of orphanage in Da Nang by Chuck Palazzo

(DA NANG VIETNAM) - Saturday afternoon, the heat of the summer is upon us in Da Nang. The comforts I enjoyed back in the US still exist for me in some ways – air-conditioning, hot water, a decent meal. I am reminded every moment of every day, however, that this is Da Nang, Vietnam.'s Chuck Palazzo
& his great friends

This is my adopted new home. I am also reminded each and every day that I am one of the fortunate few. Still relatively healthy. So many of my own as well as millions of Vietnamese are not so fortunate.

Why Da Nang? It is where I first landed. It is where, as a very young Marine, my political and human beliefs changed dramatically.

I realized, first hand, that what we did as an American Nation was wrong. The effects of Agent Orange immediately manifested themselves on the environment here so many years ago.

Sprayed by the US on the jungles, on the rice fields, the river banks, on the people – spilled onto the runways, the tarmacs, the storage facilities. Leached into the water supply, the food supplies.

Images of Agent Orange and the Vietnam War

The crops, the animals and the humans – the children, the adults, the elderly. Plants and trees withered quickly, just to die and never to return to normalcy again. The toll on the animals and sea life were next – it was slow, but gradual and deadly.

The water supply was contaminated early on – but the lies from the US Government as well as from Monsanto and Dow were told with such convincing and straight-faced language, the people of this country, as well as I and my fellow veterans believed it.

“Agent Orange is not harmful or deadly to human beings”, said the liars.

“In fact, you can drink it and nothing would happen to you”, was stated time and time again by these greed filled and soul-less people.

The lies continued over the years and remain so to this day. My own government refuses to accept responsibility. The chemical companies continue to lie. All of them continue to fill their bank accounts.

The tragedy?

Photos of orphanage in Da Nang by Chuck Palazzo

Today, 4 generations after the first spraying occurred, people continue to die. Children continue to be born with severe physical and mental deformities. Disease is rampant. Satan himself could not have contrived such an ideal evil. Over 7 million victims and still counting by the second.

As I travel to one of the orphanages here in Da Nang, I ponder several things. This city in Central Vietnam is one of three hot spots designated by independent as well as government studies and tests – Da Nang is one of the worst contaminated cities in the world.

Yes, poisoned from dioxin – the core of the evil which is produced by Agent Orange.

Who knew, that after so many years dioxin would still be present in the soil, in the water supplies? Who knew that so many would become sick? Who knew so many would die? The US knew. Monsanto knew. Dow knew.

Documents obtained through the Freedom of Information act as well as what is now in the public domain reveal with no doubt that the US Government knew exactly what they were doing and what the effects would be. Ditto Monsanto. Ditto Dow. Ditto all the rest who conspired to keep this evil secret – secret.

I think about so many of us who were exposed, who have become untreatable, and who have died. So many who have children who were born with such horrific disabilities, much of society has turned its back on them. Children who have been damned as a result of corporate and government greed. Children who did absolutely nothing to deserve their fate, but suffer they do.

I think about some of my students at the local university. Students who have experienced firsthand the devastation of Agent Orange. Students, who should hate, but do not. Students who should be at the beach on this hot Saturday afternoon.

Photos of orphanage in Da Nang by Chuck Palazzo

Students who recognize the evils we have committed here in Vietnam, but students who care for their own. The victims. The students, like so many other Vietnamese, have forgiven us. These students volunteer their time to help children and adults alike.

They try, and try and try, to put smiles on the victims’ faces. A hug, a kiss, a handshake – babies and children who might not reach their 21st birthday. Children and adults who have continued to live, but under the care of a public facility. Babies, children, adults – all victims.

But these are very special victims. These are victims of victims.

Their own families cursed with disease and poverty as a result of Agent Orange and war. Parents and loved ones who could not afford in so many ways, the proper care-giving for their own. Infants, children and yes, adults, who are now wards of the state. Victims of victims.

I enter the gate and am reminded immediately that this is no private or comfortable facility. However, the government here does its best. They depend on people like the students, the other volunteers, the staff, and yes, other victims, to assist in every which way that we can. Homelessness will not become a sad reality for these victims.

As I walk through the facility, I am greeted by those who can greet me – victims with such obvious dioxin caused conditions, it is devastating and heartbreaking. I must not show my emotion. I have to put myself aside and focus.
Focus on the victims.
Focus on making them smile.
Focus on loving them.

But I have to fight back my own feelings – anger, sadness. The feeling of deceit. Deceived by my own government. So many victims, so much horror, and so much sadness – a smile is priceless in this environment.

Photos of orphanage in Da Nang by Chuck Palazzo

Incredibly, they all smile. Those who can, at least. But they want to be loved. They need to be spoken with, rocked, and fed. The students show me. They take me by the hand and lead me to the individual activity areas and to the orphans’ homes. I follow their lead. They, these twenty-something young adults, teach and show me how to care for these orphans.

During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the United States military sprayed 2,000,000 US gallons of chemical defoliants in South Vietnam as part of the aerial defoliation program known as Operation Ranch Hand.

20 percent of South Vietnam's jungles were sprayed over a nine year period. The first objective was to reduce the dense jungle foliage so that Communist forces might not use it for cover and to deny them use of crops needed for sustenance.

In 1965, 42 percent of all herbicide spraying was dedicated to food crops. The second objective was spot clearing in sensitive areas such as around base perimeters. It was also used to drive civilians into RVN-controlled areas.

In 1963, the United States (suspecting the negative effects) initiated a study on the health effects of Agent Orange that by 1967 confirmed that the chemical caused cancer, birth defects and other serious health problems. The outcome of the study had no affect whatsoever on the use of Agent Orange.

4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects. 2.4 million Americans (in addition to allied forces and the Vietnamese people) were exposed in various ways to Agent Orange.

Chuck Palazzo is a Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, the Interim Editor for Agent Orange, and a longtime Vietnam Veterans Against the War Member. Chuck Palazzo has spent years since the war studying the impacts and effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant chemical sprayed by the U.S. govt. on the jungles of Vietnam. He says Dioxins have been re-discovered to cause all sorts of damage to humans. These include Heart Disease, Parkinsonism, Diabetes et cetera. Dioxins are already known to produce serious birth defects and a variety of cancers. The chemical is still sold in Third World Countries and is causing the same problems.

We at welcome Chuck aboard and look forward to sharing more of his stories with our readers in the future.

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G 2/3; June 19, 2010 9:22 pm (Pacific time)

Barney, your statements are completely contradicting scientific evidence. I went back several times and along the DMZ all the way to the Laotian border there are still "clearcut" looking areas, vast areas in the frontier from defoliants from the war as well as multiple deaths yearly from unexploded ordinace, at the time I was doing this they'd stack the retrieved dud artillary rounds on the sides of the roads or trails to sell to the Japanese scrap metal industry. The birth dafects recorded in villages near Khe Sahn were identical to the results on test animals during corporate research into dioxens. I don't want to argue, go back yourself and head on down Hiway #9 in Quang Tri province.,or Tay Nihn province near Saigon where the Armies 25th Div. was located in Cu Chi. Or Tu Du haospital in Saigon where the people ruined by this agent are cared for. If it doesn't break you heart you haven't got one. Semper God Damn Fi!

Barney June 18, 2010 6:38 pm (Pacific time)

Tim King it's a matter of public record that Vic could not get into the military, he tried. It is obvious that you have no combat experience, so I'm sure both you and Vic don't have any memories combat vets have that will interfere with your sleep. Currently whether you like it or not, you have been eating food that Monsanto developed, unless you just eat from what you harvest in the woods. Haiti is now using seeds that will increase their crop yeild by 500% plus. American farmers all over have been increasing their yield upwards of 300% because of Monsanto. Obviously you have no knowlege of agriculture production and distribution, nor any objective knowledge about Agent Orange. Frankly the Vietnamese had a high incident of genetic birth problems long before we Americans got there. It's just a con to raise money, look at the science. It's all political, even the so-called diseases the VA is awarding disability for. Not one case, not one has come up with a positive reading for Dioxin. In the blood, organs, or any other tissues. You are alive and having a longer life span because of the chemical community, and Monsanto is just one of many that have been improving lives on this planet. Just like the DDT crap, nothing wrong with DDT either.When we quit using it, millions began dieing once again. Not one fatality can be tied to DDT, nor Agent Orange. I'll bet you some big bucks if you can disprove anything I posted above, you cannot.

Tim King: Is anyone else seeing this Monsanto advocacy?  You are Monsanto, not a single Vietnam Vet alive would say what you said.  

Barney June 18, 2010 11:58 am (Pacific time)

Vic this was a war, not something you could possibly conceive, so there are people who die in these things young man. Were you prevented from getting into the military for some reason and this causes you to strike out against those who did what you were unable to do? For you others, MONSANTO does not just make Agent Orange, they have improved the quality of life for the entire planet with their agricultural research and products. If you want to blame someone about AO, then go dig up LBJ and give him your concerns. Most of us Vietnam veterans are concerned about the Vietnamese, do you not understand the sacrifice that was made by us? G2/3 got you loud and clear on the moving target bit, but maybe we have a different background in actual combat. As far as using a herbicide, it did save lives where I went, and am sure it would be used again even if we knew about it's negative results for some. People who have not been in that kind of situation will never understand, and even those who claim to have been in combat I have found that they are usually full of excrement. Maybe they were there, pulled some berm guard duty, but that's about it. Kind of like some navy dudes who say they spent four tours there, but never got off their ships. You don't even need one finger to count how many ships were sunk over there. I can eyeball any combat veteran and in less tan a minute talking to them I know if they are actual combat vets. Lot's of liars out there. We now have laws on the books where we can get them prosecuted for some claims they may make. Lot of lieing politicians. Sen. Tom Harkin, if we had the laws in place now when he first ran for office, you never would have heard about that liar. Many more besides him.

Editor: What are you talking about Barney, you suggest Monsanto's Genetically Modified food is good for agriculture?  We have published many stories about this company and there is not a single good thing to say about Monsanto.  Vic may not have been in a war, but that doesn't mean he doesn't understand what it is about, it just means that unlike some of us, he's smart enough to not put himself in a position where he has to kill people with a weapon.  I have a feeling he sleeps well at night, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Anyway, this is hard to follow beyond that, just know that we will never state anything but the truth here, and therefore no Monsanto advocacy exists.   

G 2/3; June 13, 2010 6:22 am (Pacific time)

yes Martin, the lives of Monsanto and DuPont executives and investors were saved. We used the locally produced rice choppers or if luck prevailed an G.I. machete to clear fields of fire and to be honest you are the first one I've heard that said it was agent orange that kept you alive. Were you at stationary location? My personal philosophy was to only give the enemy the opportunity to hit a moving target at all times. I figure that's what mostly kept me alive as most of our advisaries were in tunnels and/or underground bunkers. Do your own research. Go back if you haven't and take a look for yourself.,and by the way, welcome home. None of us is getting younger.

Vic June 12, 2010 5:04 pm (Pacific time)

So Martin..what really matters to you is that American invader lives were saved..screw the peasants that had to live there, right? They can deal with their deformed babies, cancer and all that rubbish...not your problem, eh?

Vic June 12, 2010 5:00 pm (Pacific time)

huck..from your writings, you seem to me to be an awesome, good hearted person, the likes of which this world needs many more of..Thank you for your conscience and your efforts for good. Seriously...Thank You !

Martin June 9, 2010 6:08 pm (Pacific time)

Editor my comment to G 2/3 was straight forward from my actual experience, and that was the herbicide Agent Orange did save lives in contrast to the statement that it did not. In regards to the writer of this article and his dedication to helping the Vietnamese, I find that a noble thing to do. In fact, nearly 60,000 dead Americans gave their lives in that noble effort, along with millions of others who were fortunate to have returned home. There are literally thousands of veterans and different service organizations that have been putting congressional feet to the fire over this AG issue. Just the same when you look at birth defect data it helps to clarify the issue when you can compare before and after statistical bases. Bottom line, I'm sure that I'm alive today because of how this herbicide kept snipers at an inaccurate distance because of opening up fields of fire.

Martin June 9, 2010 2:12 pm (Pacific time)

G 2/3 you said no American lives were saved by the use of Agent Orange! Beg to differ sir, I know many whose lives were saved first hand, so what documented evidence do you have supporting an unsupportable claim? A feeling? Yeah it really sucks about the after effects of this herbicide, and I was one of the first on the Agent Orange Registry at the VA, but war has always had lingering after effects. I have to wonder what the birth defect rate was "prior to the introduction of AO" into 'Nam, because while there I saw many people with birth defects, though I of course just saw those in my area of operations so have no idea how prevalent these defects were in the population then, or after AO was introduced. Fortunately more and more diseases are being added that the VA has to cover, but we are all getting on in years, so we need to keep the pressure on with congress. Regarding Zumwalts kid, what was the cancer mortality rate for Vietnam veterans of his age cohort? His civilian cohort?

Editor: Martin, you are talking to someone who knows a great deal about this, regionally and otherwise; who ha a great personal stake in this fight.  Semper fi to all. 

G 2/3; June 9, 2010 9:10 am (Pacific time)

Dean NayVet; No American lives were saved. Admiral Zumwalt's Son, a Navy Seal, died shortly after the war of cancer from agent Orange and other defoliants, Admiral Zumwalt was the one who authorized the use of these defoliants, thinking they would also save lives.They lied to all of us then and continue to do so today. Dioxin kills everthing. Chuck,this one had tears flowing within seconds. The Tu Do hospital in Saigon has a web page,it is like you are man,tough.,a tough one to watch and no denial works, as you already know. Semper Fi.

Anonymous June 8, 2010 2:34 pm (Pacific time)

Chuck have you compared similar populations in SE Asia that were not exposed to AG for mortality and disease rates? Also do you have these same stats prior to introduction of AG in Vietnam? Thanks

Anonymous June 8, 2010 11:04 am (Pacific time)

first of all, the u.s. should have never gone to viet nam, same as they should not have gone into iraq and afghanistan. second of all, if some dont want to bring up the past in regards to chemicals dispersed and killing people, then why dont we focus on the lies that got us into viet nam, iraq and afghanistan. lets focus on the lies the government continues to tell, not only in regards to agent orange, but the poisons they still lie about, such as gmo food. my brother was a helicopter gunner in viet nam, and has heart problems from agent orange, so its a bit difficult for me to "move on'.... and if we dont expose the lies, they will continue to do things thru lies.

Dean NavyVet June 8, 2010 8:09 am (Pacific time)

What about the pollution from industrial age? What about the nuclear tests? Stuff happens in history, we can't keep paying for mistakes of the past. How many American lives did we save by using these chemicals?

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