Decades after end of Vietnam War, US begins Agent Orange clean-up

By NBC News staff and wire reports

HANOI, Vietnam — Nearly four decades after the end of the Vietnam War, the United States and Vietnam on Thursday began cleaning up the toxic chemical Agent Orange on part of Danang International Airport.

The U.S. military sprayed up to 12 million gallons of the defoliant onto Vietnam’s jungles over a 10-year period during the war, and the question of compensation for the subsequent health problems is a major post-war issue.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects among both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to Agent Orange.

Thursday marked the first time Washington has been involved in cleaning up Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Old enemies team up to battle Agent Orange

The U.S. government is providing $41 million to the project which will reduce the contamination level in 73,000 cubic meters of soil by late 2016, the ruling Vietnam Communist Party’s mouthpiece Nhan Dan daily said.

U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear said at a ceremony at the former American air base at Danang that the project showed that the two countries were “taking the first steps to bury the legacies of our past,” Voice of America (VOA) reported.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded contracts to two U.S. companies to work on the project along with Vietnam defense ministry officials, the U.S. Embassy said.

Danang in Vietnam’s central region is a popular tourist destination. During the Vietnam War, that ended in 1975, the beach city was used as a recreational spot for U.S. soldiers.

Return to Vietnam: Meeting a formerly faceless foe

Agent Orange was stored at Danang air base and sprayed from U.S. warplanes to expose northern communist troops and destroy their supplies in jungles along the border with Laos.

Over the next decade, other former U.S. air bases that stored Agent Orange are due to be cleaned up as well, VOA reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.

 

“My Gentlemen” – Ann Margret

Richard, (my husband), never really talked a lot about his time in Viet Nam, other than he had been shot by a sniper.  However, he had a rather grainy, 8 x 10 black and white photo he had taken at a USO show of Ann Margret with Bob Hope in the background that was one of his treasures.A few years ago, Ann Margret was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. Richard wanted to see if he could get her to Sign the treasured photo so he arrived at the bookstore at 12 o’clock for the 7:30 signing.

When I got there after work, the line went all the way around the bookstore, circled the parking lot, and disappeared behind a parking garage.  Before her appearance, bookstore employees announced that she would sign only her book and no memorabilia would be permitted.Ann Margaret
Richard was disappointed, but wanted to show her the photo and let her know how much those shows meant to lonely GI’s so far from home.. Ann Margret came out looking as beautiful as ever and, as second in line, it was soon Richard’s turn.

He presented the book for her signature and then took out the photo.  When he did, there were many shouts from the employees that she would not sign it.  Richard said, “I understand. I just wanted her to see it.”

She took one look at the photo, tears welled up in her eyes and she said, “This is one of my gentlemen from Viet Nam and I most certainly will sign his photo. I know what these men did for their country and I always have time for ‘my gentlemen.”

cid:FF275522D4554F888D98CEF2C6B4D00D@CarolePC

With that, she pulled Richard across the table and planted a big kiss on him.  She then made quite a to-do about the bravery of the young men she met over the years, how much she admired them, and how much she appreciated them.  There weren’t too many dry eyes among those close enough to hear.  She then posed for pictures and acted as if he were the only one  there.

Later at dinner, Richard was very quiet.  When I asked if he’d like to talk about it, my big, strong husband broke down in tears.. ”That’s the first time anyone ever thanked me for my time in  the Army,” he said.

That night was a turning point for him. He walked a little straighter and, for the first time in years, was proud to have been a Vet. I’ll never forget Ann Margret for her graciousness and how much that small act of kindness meant to my husband.

I now make it a point to say ‘Thank you’ to every person I come across who served in our Armed Forces.  Freedom does not come cheap and I am grateful for all those who have served their country.

If you’d like to pass on this story, feel free to do so. Perhaps it will help others to become aware of how important it is to acknowledge the  contribution our service people make.

“The country is behind you 50 percent”         – Bob Hope to the troops, Christmas Tour Vietnam 1966

Stay tuned for more about Bob Hope and the USO Tours in Vietnam.  – J. Barry

FOUR VVA SCHOLARSHIPS TO BE AWARDED

FOUR  VVA SCHOLARSHIPS TO BE AWARDED

Please join with the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for the presentation of the 2012 Vietnam Veterans of America Scholarships. The ceremony will be held at 7:00 PM, Tuesday, July 10, at the new location of the Vietnam Memorial at Carter Park in Leominster. Mrs. Helen Hill, Gold Star Mother, will present scholarships to the sons and daughters of Vietnam veteran and one student from Leominster High School. All are attending college. Following the short program, there will be refreshments at the Leominster Veteran Center, 100 West Street.

 

Dan Joseph, Scholarship Committee chairman and Treasurer of the Vietnam Veterans of America, said the Vietnam Veterans of America, has, for 29 years, presented more that $115,000 for higher education to sons and daughters of VVA members. This successful annual project is the longest running project for VVA 116.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Scholarship is awarded annually to recognize, encourage, and contribute to the higher education of qualified VVA 116 members children. The Scholarship is presented to honor members of VVA who have devoted their energies in effecting positive change on behalf of all Americans. As a tribute to their continued service and to those who have lost their lives, this Scholarship program is in keeping with the spirit of VVA’s motto: IN SERVICE TO AMERICA.
 
VVA’s ambitious agenda has always aimed to find creative, pragmatic solutions to the programmatic concerns of Vietnam-era veterans, their families, and the community.
 
Take this opportunity to make a donation to the VVA 116 Scholarship program. 100% of your contribution will go directly to the Scholarship project that assists veterans’ children. The young scholars need your support. Send your tax deductible donation to: VVA Scholarships, P.O. Box 294, Leominster, MA 01453.

Annual Chapter 116 Meeting at the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Our Annual Meeting at the Massachusetts Vietnam Veterans Memorial went well.  It was good to see and hang out with our Brothers.  We walked around the Place of Names taking time to remember our Fallen Brothers, stopping to pause and to remember our friends, relatives, neighbors, classmates and Brothers.  One thing I noticed was that we all seemed to touch their names when we talked about “These Brave Few”.  I personally felt a healing effect.  I know in my heart that Their deaths will never be in vain and that They will never be forgotten.

* firebase116.org would like to thank “the nice lady with a Chihuahua” for taking the photograph of all of us at the Memorial.