The Children of Vietnam...Part Two
The Legacy of Agent Orange


Author’s Note: The pictures below were not taken by me. They are present day images of real children for reference only and representative of the horrors of Agent Orange passed on to second or third generation children whose parents were exposed to this defoliant.

Over the years I have attended funerals and shed many tears for my Vietnam Brothers who lost their lives thirty, forty, and 50 years after leaving Vietnam. They did not die from wounds received in combat but from deadly diseases associated with exposure to the deadly anti-defoliant……Agent Orange. I would venture to guess that about 80 percent of us were exposed (some more than others) to this deadly toxin; including myself. Those of us still alive are ravaged by ailments and receive constant care from the Veterans hospitals and clinics. Myself; I am being treated for about 10-15 different illnesses due to my exposure. Most of my friends have died or will die from various cancers caused by the toxin and I consider myself lucky so far not to have contracted cancer……yet.

Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange and Agent LNX, one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. military as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand, during the Vietnam War from 1961 to 1971. It was nicknamed Agent Orange because of its color and the orange stripe around the barrels it was stored in.

Over the course of 10 years, American forces sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of the chemical in Vietnam, Laos and parts of Cambodia to deprive guerrilla fighters of cover by destroying plants and trees where they could find refuge. We were told by our government that the defoliant was harmless.

Its contaminant, dioxin — now regarded as one of the most toxic chemicals known to man — remains in Vietnam’s ecosystem, in the soil, and in the fish people eat from rivers.

Nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people have been exposed, causing 400,000 deaths; the associated illnesses include cancers, birth defects, skin disorders, auto-immune diseases, liver disorders, psychosocial effects, neurological defects and gastrointestinal diseases.

Now my heart breaks for the people and especially the children of Vietnam. These children were born 30-40 years after the war ended and since most of the families are too poor to care for them, they are placed in orphanages. Some of the children require around the clock care and the ones that do not die from their ailments are cared for by the orphanage until the age of 17 then placed in adult care facilities.

This is what we left for the people of Vietnam…..disease and death. There is no ending to this story, because the story will continue as long as Vietnam Veterans are alive and no doubt, live on in the people and children of Vietnam. Those of us left who have children worry and wonder if they will inherit this deadly legacy.

Approximately 2.6 million veterans served in Vietnam. Statistically 3-6% of all children were born with some type of birth defect. Are these just unfortunate coincidences or has Agent Orange exposure left a legacy of disabilities in our children that may possibly extend into future generations? There is scientific evidence showing increases in birth defects and developmental problems in the children of Vietnam Veterans and others (people of Vietnam) exposed to this deadly toxin.

I wonder myself, if my youngest daughter was born with cerebral palsy due to my exposure. When she was born, we were told that she had cerebral palsy because of problems with the birth…. I wonder and worry. There was nothing at the time to suggest Agent Orange had anything to do with it…she died in 1992 at age 11. We were blessed to have our angel and she was a special and loving child, but I wonder…did she get the disease because of my time in Vietnam and exposure to Agent Orange; I guess I will never know. At the time of her birth, Agent Orange and its affects were not known or heard of, so I am left worried and wondering. I have two other children and I wonder and worry if I have passed this legacy to them; only time will tell.

For now; the legacy continues as does the death and heartache.

Click on the link below the pictures for more information about Agent Orange.


©Copyright 2019 by Phil “Country” Crowley