I take exception to the Sept. 25 editorial titled “Sprayback.”
I arrived in South Vietnam in September 1969. Fifteen months earlier Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense, sent a memo to President Lyndon Johnson stating that the war was not winnable. Johnson responded by firing McNamara.
During my first five months as an infantry officer, nine young Americans in my company of about 100 were killed and more than 30 wounded.
During my year in Vietnam, I was located in III Corps, which received large doses of Agent Orange. I spent my first six months leading an infantry platoon in the 1st Infantry Division on search-and-destroy missions in areas that had been sprayed.
On March 12, 1989, at the age of 44, I suffered a massive heart attack. I had no risk factors for heart disease. My family doctor told me that “it should not have happened.” A cardiologist told me that if he knew why I had a heart attack “he would win the Nobel Prize.”
Two years later, my heart disease resulted in my receiving a heart transplant.
One of my brothers is four years younger than I. He has suffered three heart attacks and prostate cancer. He was in Vietnam for a year.
My youngest brother is 10 years younger and has not been struck by heart disease or prostate cancer. He did not serve in the military.
I was sent to a war that should not have happened, was not winnable, and became a national agony and disgrace.
I will happily accept compensation for heart disease and prostate cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange