Elmo Zumwalt III is the eldest son of Admiral Elmo Zumwalt. He served as a lieutenant on one of his father’s patrol boats during the Vietnam War. He was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1983 and Hodgkin’s disease in 1985. But how did he contract cancer?
After being exposed to Agent Orange while stationed in Vietnam, Lieutenant Elmo Zumwalt III developed cancer and died at 42. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, his father, was the one who ordered the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Is Agent Orange a Threat to Humans?
During the Vietnam War, US forces used Agent Orange, a highly toxic chemical, to clear forests and farms for North Vietnamese and Viet Cong fighters. The US program known as Operation Ranch Hand sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides over Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from 1961 to 1971. The herbicide Agent Orange, which included the lethal chemical dioxin, was the most widely utilized. It was later discovered that it caused considerable health problems in Vietnamese people and returning US service members and their families, including cancer, birth deformities, rashes, and severe psychological and neurological difficulties. (Source: History)
What are the Key Components of Agent Orange?
In addition to its active ingredients, Agent Orange contained various levels of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, also known as TCDD, a type of dioxin that caused plants to defoliate or lose their leaves.
Dioxin was not introduced to Agent Orange on purpose; instead, it is a byproduct of herbicide production. It was present in varying quantities in all herbicides used in Vietnam.
Dioxins are produced through trash incineration, the burning of gas, oil, and coal, cigarette smoking, and numerous manufacturing processes such as bleaching. TCDD, discovered in Agent Orange, is the most deadly dioxin. (Source: History)
The Effect of Agent Orange After the War
In addition to the tremendous environmental damage caused by the US defoliation effort in Vietnam, the country has reported that herbicides like Agent Orange have killed or maimed over 400,000 people.
Furthermore, Vietnam claims that Agent Orange caused the birth of half a million newborns with severe congenital disabilities and 2 million individuals with cancer or other ailments.
A group of Vietnamese civilians filed a class-action lawsuit in 2004 against more than 30 chemical corporations, including those that had previously settled with US veterans in 1984. The case, which sought billions in damages, alleged that Agent Orange and its deadly effects left a legacy of health problems and that its use was illegal under international law.
A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, dismissed the lawsuit in March 2005. A final appeal was denied in 2008, prompting resentment among Vietnamese victims of Operation Ranch Hand and American veterans.
The U.S. government refuses to compensate Vietnamese victims of chemical warfare because to do so would mean admitting that the U.S. committed war crimes in Vietnam. This would open the door to lawsuits that would cost the government billions of dollars.Fred A. Wilcox, author of Scorched Earth: Legacies of Chemical Warfare in Vietnam, VN Express International