Vietnam’s forgotten victims of Agent Orange





At 46, each year of misery seems to have etched new wrinkles around Tran Thanh Dung’s angry gaze.

When he was child in the early 1970s, Tran says he witnessed U.S. soldiers shoot his parents — both of whom were communist Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Bent on revenge, he joined the guerrilla group within hours.

To this day, Tran weeps over the memories of bloodshed and the hellish cries of his dying friends. But one bizarre memory will haunt him forever. "The American airplanes came right toward me and dropped a mist in the jungle, and the next day, the trees were dead,” he recalled. “We weren’t scared. We were confused.”

Thanks to that experience, his son has been unable to walk since birth.

Tran was sprayed with dioxin, codenamed by the military Agent Orange — an herbicide that the U.S. Army used to kill off shrubbery in central Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s, so the Viet Cong would have no place to hide.

The defoliant is known to cause a myriad of birth defects in the children of those exposed. Today, Tran’s 18-year-old son suffers from a spinal disorder called spina bifida, an ailment Tran’s doctor said was caused by his contact with dioxin four decades ago....


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