Castle Hill, Sitka, Alaska
March Against Monsanto
May 25, 2013
Good afternoon, I actually had a speech prepared. Brett asked me to speak a little bit about Agent Orange and I forgot my notes. You know, it was great, I had this impassioned thing, I had all of these facts about Agent Orange, but the truth is you don’t have to look very far to find primary sources that tie Monsanto to Agent Orange. It’s common knowledge now. These primary sources are so accessible it’s within a few keystrokes, you can access them online.
So there’s a couple things I do want to raise awareness about. It hits home for me because my father passed away being exposed from Agent Orange. I adorned his medals on his hat that he used to wear when he returned from Vietnam. He earned two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, an Air Medal.
He brought three other things home from his combat experience in Vietnam. One, he returned ruthlessly loyal to my mother; number two, he actually had 84 confirmed kills which was a very difficult thing for him being raised with parents that instilled in him a hard work ethic, love, but he also was instilled with the principle that you must serve for your country if you are called upon to serve your country. So he willingly went down to the recruit office in 1968 when he sat on the couch next to my great uncle who is an elder in his 90s, and in the evening time the news came on, his draft number came up, and he willingly went down and registered.
This was a difficult decision for my father being that he was married to my mother several years before, not several, a few years before. They had a young daughter and, you know, he was looking forward to spending time with them.
When he went to Vietnam, his tour started in 1969. He was attached to the One Nine where he proved himself as a very capable, responsible soldier. He was then encouraged to go to OCS, Officer Candidate School. He actually declined while at OCS to continue with the commissioning of an officer, he actually quit the OCS school because it would keep him away from my mother a lot longer than he wanted to be away from her. So he was reassigned to the 191st, which is the intelligence unit and he served on the White Pearl Mountain 18 miles from the Cambodian border, 8 miles from the Black Pearl Mountain. His units were very successful in repelling the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese. To their credit it was never over-run. Unfortunately his brothers on the Black Pearl Mountain did not have the same kind of success. In fact, almost every soldier that was on that mountain was killed.
He returned with two other things from Vietnam. One, PTSD. For those of you that know PTSD understand the influence it has on our soldiers when they return from combat. It’s an Illness and everybody that is around that individual knows how they suffer and they suffer along with them. The second thing he returned with being afflicted by Agent Orange. Agent Orange is what killed my father. I can actually say that Monsanto killed my father because the Agent Orange dropped from 1968 to 1971 was manufactured, produced, and sold to the United States government, and that was the Agent Orange that he engaged. Ironically, melanoma, the actual thing that killed him . . . he had several cancers until the melanoma became quite prevalent, but melanoma, the form that he had, the doctors attribute specifically to the Agent Orange influence because what it did, it took a protein from his body and dumped it into the right atrium of his heart and over many years, many decades it made his heart stiffen up and actually went into fibrillation and that is how he died in the summer of 2011.
So if there are two things I can tell you today, it’s one, I’m glad to see people united specifically for the fight against Monsanto because they have killed many people, and two, if you are a Vietnam veteran and have not sought help for the exposure you may have been in contact with in Vietnam, I encourage you to get help. There are many of your brothers out there that can help you, and number two, children and grandchildren of Vietnam veterans, we now know that we carry the same affliction as our fathers and mothers that engaged in combat in Vietnam. Agent Orange is now prevalent in second and third generation individuals, myself afflicted and my son afflicted as well. So those are the main points I wanted to share.