Vietnam: An Unfinished War
H. Patricia Hynes
The purpose of my journey to Vietnam in March 2014 was to investigate the plight of 3rd generation Agent Orange-dioxin victims, dioxin contaminated sites, and ecological restoration in order to inform Americans of the on-going legacy of the “American War” in Vietnam and our responsibility and opportunities for undoing this legacy.
During the ten years (1961-1971) of aerial chemical warfare in Vietnam, U.S. warplanes sprayed more than twenty million gallons of herbicide defoliants, among them the Agent Orange knowingly contaminated with the exceedingly toxic dioxin. In this methodical ecocide, up to one-fourth of South Vietnam was sprayed. By the end of the war, nearly 5 million Vietnamese had been exposed to Agent Orange, which has since resulted in an estimated 400,000 deaths and disabilities and at least a half million children born with physical and/or mental birth defects across 3 generations.
Pat Hynes offers presentations with photos from her visit to the Vietnam Peace Villages in Hanoi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City – facilities with classrooms, clinics, and organic gardens where young Agent Orange victims receive rehabilitation and vocational training. She documents the important but minimal, thus far, US-Vietnam collaboration to clean up Agent Orange-dioxin sites at former US air bases. In support of the Peace Villages, the Traprock Center has created the Vietnam Peace Village Fund, with the goal of raising $10,000 to support 25 annual scholarships for child victims of Agent Orange.
To donate, please send your tax-deductible check to: Traprock Center for Peace and Justice (PO Box 1201 Greenfield MA 01302)
Pat Hynes is a retired Professor of Environmental Health from Boston University and author/editor of seven books. A feminist, peace and environmental justice activist, she directs the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice in western Massachusetts.
- Up to ¼ South Vietnam: 17th parallel; supply routes for VC; mangrove forests of Mekong Delta; inland forests north and northwest of Saigon.
- Perimeters of US military bases by helicopters, trucks and hand.
- Hundreds of thousands of gallons emptied from planes into forests, rivers and drinking water reservoirs.
- 1964: 5000 American scientists protested “chemical warfare.”
- 1971: birth defects in US animal studies – spraying ceased.
What Did US Government Know?
“When we initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the military formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the civilian version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the enemy, none of us were overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide.”
–Dr. James Clary, Chemical Weapons Branch, US Air Force