In late '68 and early
1969 the uh American forces in Quang Tinh
Province, where I was working, started
increasingly to use defoliation as a weapon of war. It was used quite a
bit in the western part of the uh province to destroy rice crops to
encourage people to leave from the areas controlled by the National Liberation Front. Most
of those areas I was never able to visit because of the extensive mining
and artillery that was shot into those areas. I did get a chance to
visit the village of uh Ky Truong.
Ky Truong was a village only about five miles from
. It a village that uh
one of the students who worked as a teacher in the literacy program,
which I was operating, uh his family came from Ky
Truong. And he told me one day that the village
had been defoliated. It was a village which was controlled by the
American forces and should not have been defoliated. But the Americans
had tried to uh defoliate Ky Anh
which was about five kilometers up the beach.
It had been a windy day. The wind had picked up the
defoliation, carried it over the village of Ky Phu in the middle and
landed it on Ky Truong on the other side. I was invited to go out and uh
visit with the family of my friend and to visit some of the local
farmers to see what had happened to ah their farms and to their
livestock. I'll never forget that trip. When you went out to the area
where the defoliation happened looked like there had been a forest tire.
All of the ground was scorched, it was absolutely brown or black.
Anything that had been green was simply withered away uh, as if there
had been a major forest fire that had just swept the area and just
scorched everything to death.
I went and visited with a farmer. He showed me his
chickens. He picked one of them up and showed the legs and he said, "All
of the chickens that have white scales on their legs will die." He said,
"Those who don't have the white scales on their legs will probably
live." It probably means that those were the chickens who wandered in
the grass while it was still wet with the defoliation. The Vietnamese
called it "tuk dap" which is poison. They said it was poison that came
in like the fog of the night. It was the fog that came in early in the
morning and just simply did not leave. It didn't burn off when the other
fog usually burns off.
We went around and visited all of the farmers in the
area. They showed me their livestock. I, I took a note pad and I
recorded for each of the farmers how many pigs, cows and water buffalo
they had lost uh from the defoliation. It affected mostly the pregnant
animals and also the infants, and practically all of the ducks. Anything
that swam in the water was uh, I don't think there was a duck that
survived in that whole village. Chickens, some of them survived, some of
the cows and some of the water buffaloes survived, but a lot of them
didn't. I kept careful records because according to the AID manual, if the American forces
killed uh either pigs, cows, water buffaloes, destroyed houses or even
killed human beings, the American government was supposed to compensate
the villagers for the loss.
I don't remember how much it was anymore, but
something like five hundred dollars for a child, four hundred dollars
for a water buffalo, uh three hundred dollars for a cow, uh one hundred
dollars for a pig, and maybe y'know, five dollars for a chicken or
something like this. And so I kept careful record, the name of the
farmers and how much of their livestock they had lost. I had looked at
the dead animals and made careful notes of all of this. I went back and
I talked to the head of the Military
Advisory Command, and AID. Uh...