An American veteran’s quiet devotion to Vietnamese AO victims

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Báo QĐND English - 34 month(s) ago 11 readings

An American veteran’s quiet devotion to Vietnamese AO victims

Chuck Palazzo, a 40 years old American veteran has decided to return Vietnam to work for the better life of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange (AO), so as to make up for what he and his colleagues had done during his thirteen months involvement in the unjust war in the country.

Chuck Palazzo joined the Vietnam War in 1970 as a marine of the American Navy in Da Nang when he was 17 years old. Immediately, he held a gun going to various battlefields, from Da Nang, Hue to Quang Tri with a naïve ideal of “Giving the Freedom Back Vietnam”.

However, the foolish-looking fact stifled his ideal. He saw that the war he was involved in was unjust, which brought pain to the local civilians. After 13 years being in the US Navy, he returned the USA with his great disappointment of the mistake of the war.

The first thing Chuck did after returning to his country was to withdraw from the US Navy. As a civilian, he quietly collected a number of documents and evidences of the unjust war to make other American veterans aware of the truth.

At that time, it was very difficult to help them acknowledge the unjust Vietnam War. American youth is always devoted to their country, he recalled.

Chuck Palazzo with Vietnamese AO victims

What drove Chuck crazy until today was the obvious deceit of some American chemical companies. Chuck remembered that at that time, in order to spray Agent Orange on Vietnam, American troops received a promise that dioxin was not harmful. Its only effect was to make foliage fall, so that Vietnamese soldiers would find nowhere to hide. As a result, American troops could find it easier to trace their targets from aircraft.

Recently, American troops realised that agent was a lethal substance that gradually killed, even future generations. That caused Palazzo to shiver a lot.

Therefore, Chuck decided to leave his thriving business in New York and Florida for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange. He wished to help ease the pain of Agent Orange and other agents left behind from the Vietnam War.

Relating his return to Vietnam, Chuck said that, one of his co-workers in his New York-based company, was a Vietnamese-American whose mother was a native of Da Nang. A question of choosing Vietnam as his second home country resounded and Chuck conducted a fact-finding trip to Ho Chi Minh City in 2008. A year later, he decided to restart his software business in Da Nang and spent much time doing charity in Vietnam with an aim of supporting Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin and bombs and mines.

As a member of the American Veterans for Peace Organization, Chuck was shocked as he witnessed the sequels of Agent Orange/Dioxin on the Vietnamese and their children.

Chuck sadly said that each time he met with Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin, his heart seemed to be suffocated. He could not imagine that the bad consequences of the spraying over 40 years ago were so frightful. “It haunted me every night. God pardon us!”, he shared.

That frightfulness could not prevent Chuck from caring and playing with children of Agent Orange/Dioxin victims.

Chuck was deeply impressed by the strong will of a tiny teacher named Nguyen Ngoc Phuong, a victim of Agent Orange/Dioxin, while standing outside his small shop for repairing motorbikes. That was the first time he saw the strong will to overcome difficulties of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

Chuck took Phuong in his arms and promised to himself that he would continue working for the sake of Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. Phuong was seen as a spiritual medicine that inspired Chuck to work harder to ease these pains in Vietnam.

Chuck confided that the difference between himself 41 years ago and now was that now he had no gun while the Vietnamese remained kind-hearted and tolerant. No matter how hard he and his friends would work, it would never be enough.

Source: TP

Translated by Mai Huong

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