Agent Orange: The Silent Assassin

Agent Orange: The Silent Assassin

Length: 1764 words (5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
About 3 million Americans or more served in the armed forces in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. While under the impression from the U.S. government, many soldiers thought they were "fighting the good fight", but in reality they were "human lab rats" that were being exposed to the silent assassin called Agent Orange.
The mission, known as Operation Ranch Hand, involved spraying 20 million gallons of Agent Orange over roughly 3.6 million acres of Vietnamese land to remove forest cover, destroy crops, and clear vegetation from U.S. army bases (Vietnam War Herbicides).
Operation Ranch Hand lasted from about 1962 to 1971, and used various herbicide mixtures, such as Agent Blue, Agent White, Agent Purple, and Agent Pink to overthrow its prey, the communist North Vietnamese. However, the most legendary herbicide used was called Agent Orange.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Agent Orange: The Silent Assassin." 25 Sep 2018

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Medical aspects of exposure to Agent Orange Essay

- History of Agent Orange Agent Orange is a chemical defoliant introduced in agriculture in 1946 as an herbicide to aid farmers and was used accordingly throughout 1950, after which its production was switched solely for military uses under the Defense Production Act of 1950. Since then, even though ingredients were commercially available and accessible to the public, mass production became heavily regulated and only a handful of the US Chemical manufacturing companies were able to produce it. Agent Orange derives its name from the distinctive orange bands that were used by the military to mark Agent Orange storage containers in which it was transported, rather than from the color of the subst...   [tags: history of Agent Orange, chemical defoliant]

Research Papers
1086 words (3.1 pages)

The Effects of Agent Orange on Veterans of the Vietnam War Essay

- Almost thirty years after the last troops were pulled out of what was then South Vietnam, its effects are still felt in today’s society. It is hard not to find someone who’s life has not been affected because of this war. One of the most controversial decisions made in the war was to use chemicals to fight the enemy. The most boradly used chemiucal was called Agent Orange. Some people agreed with the use of Agent Orange. They saw it as a very viable weapon that needed to be used in order to keep the Communist from taking control of South Vietnam and subverting their democratic government....   [tags: Vietnam War Agent Orange Essays]

Research Papers
5693 words (16.3 pages)

The Vietnam War and Agent Orange Essay

- The Vietnam War was between Capitalist United states and Communist North Vietnamese; the war began in 1964 and ended in 1975. The US joined the war to stop the spreading of communism. The US came up with the domino theory which was if Vietnam turned communist the surrounding countries would all fall to communism too. The war suffered around 2.3million casualties and was very significant in the long term and the short term. Some of the wars key events were; in 1960 when the Vietcong was formed, 1963 when Diem was overthrown, 1965 Operation rolling thunder begun, 1969 Ho Chi Minh died and in 1963 the cease-fire agreement was signed in Paris and the troops leave Vietnam....   [tags: Vietnam War, Agent Orange, USA, chemmical warfare,]

Research Papers
1530 words (4.4 pages)

Essay about The Devestating Effects of Agent Orange

- Agent Orange which is also known as orange herbicide was used during the Vietnam War by the United States as an strategy to expose their enemies and deny them the access to food (Department of Veteran’s Affairs 2013). The use of agent orange brought a lot of devastating effects such as health risks and damage to the environment such as loss of biodiversity in the forests of Vietnam. The purpose of this essay is the health and environmental effects caused by the toxic component TCDD, which agent orange contains....   [tags: strategy, health, environment]

Free Essays
739 words (2.1 pages)

The Assassin Essay

- The Assassin I sneaked towards the enemy tent, careful not to make a sound. My life and honour depended on the success of this mission. If I fail, I will die along with hundreds of thousands innocent civilians, and I will be forever remembered as the idiot of an agent who failed to stop a mad terrorist leader. Beads of sweat ran down my face, and the silent emptiness that was around me nearly drove me crazy. I gripped the cold, metallic handle of my assault rifle to remind and reassure myself that I had not come unprepared....   [tags: English Literature Essays]

Free Essays
478 words (1.4 pages)

Agent Orange Essay

- Agent orange was an herbicide used in Vietnam. It was use to kill overgrown trees and shrubs that were in the way of advancing United States troops. Agent orange got its name from the barrel it was transported in; the barrel had a large orange stripe running across it. Agent orange was heavily used; in fact, it was the most used of all herbicides in Vietnam. From 1962 until 1971 over 20 millions gallons were used to cover a large 6 million acre area. The most heavily covered areas were those where very thick brush was present; it would give the enemy cover, as well as hindering the troops ability to move....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
510 words (1.5 pages)

Agent Orange Essay

- Throughout wars, armies are constantly introducing new technologies to stay ahead of their enemies. In the Vietnam War, the Americans used Agent Orange, so their enemies would be more visible. Agent Orange was a herbicide for warm, tropical climates and the American’s and Canadian’s started testing this chemical in the 1940’s, however, it was never tested on humans until nearly the end of the Vietnam War when it was finally discontinued in 1971. Agent Orange was a 50-50 mix of two chemicals know as 2,4,D and 2,4,5,T....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
448 words (1.3 pages)

Agent Orange Essay

- Agent Orange: The Pesticide Agent orange was a mixture of herbicides that the U.S. forces sprayed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Through many studies, scientists found that any exposure to Agent Orange may cause cancer. Hamilton Jordan feels that he may have been exposed to Agent Orange while he was in Vietnam. He developed cancer, and felt that Agent Orange contributed to this cancer. Agent orange was the chemical that was dropped over Vietnam in the late 1960’s. It was not until the 1970’s that the use of Agent Orange finally ceased....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Research Papers
680 words (1.9 pages)

Agent Orange Essay

- We must do everything in our power to make the world recognize that our veterans are still paying a high price for fighting the war in Vietnam. Agent Orange is slowly taking the lives of these brave veterans. The government has recognized some diseases but the rules to compensation can be complex. It was in the 1960's that we were in the process of trying to destroy vegetation and brush in Vietnam, in doing so we proceeded to contaminate one of the largest parts of the environment, Humankind. War Veterans were exposed to Agent Orange and now live their lives with a disease not necessarily curable....   [tags: Diseases on War Veterans]

Research Papers
2811 words (8 pages)

Agent Orange Essay

- Agent Orange In 1961, the United States began spraying herbicides in its military campaign to defoliate the jungles of southern Vietnam. Mimicking Smokey Bear, American pilots chuckled "Remember. Only you can prevent forests," as they dropped weed killers over target sites. But as research progressed, the true nature of the chemicals which they were spraying came to light. It is certainly no longer a laughing matter when it is realized that Agent Orange, a major herbicide used, could be as deadly to humans as it is to plants....   [tags: Vietnam War Essays]

Free Essays
1498 words (4.3 pages)

The steel drums in which the herbicide was transported were color-coded with an orange stripe, which lead to its code name Agent Orange. Agent Orange is known to be made of a 50/50 mixture of the chemicals: 2, 4, D and 2, 4, 5T and with kerosene or diesel fuel. The U.S. military disturbed this deadly herbicide by aerial spraying, ground spraying from boats, trucks, and backpacks.
In all, U.S. troops sprayed approximately 19 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over 4 million acres (Vietnam War Herbicides). Unfortunately, this military scheme is considered to have saved numerous U.S. combat soldiers lives, which have been sent to fight on behalf of the South Vietnamese people.
As a nation at war, the U.S. government forced or obliged several of companies to produce Agent Orange under the Defense Production Act. Companies supplying Agent Orange to the government included The Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, Hercules Inc., Diamond Shamrock Chemicals Company, Uniroyal Inc., Thompson Chemical and T-H Agriculture and Nutrition Company (The DOW Company). Furthermore, this infamous "weed-killer" was only manufactured for distribution by the U.S. government for military use. The product was never manufactured or sold for commercial purposes.
After Agent Orange was manufactured and packaged as ordered by the U.S. government, the U.S. military took immediate and complete control of Agent Orange at the government contractors' manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The U.S. military had sole control and responsibility for the transportation of Agent Orange to Vietnam, and for its storage once the defoliant reached Vietnam. Therefore, the U.S. military controlled how, where, and when Agent Orange would be used (The DOW Company).
The laboratory studies from 1969 found that Agent Orange is thought to be harmful to man. This synopsis was concluded when laboratory animals were tested with the key ingredient inside Agent Orange, TCDD. TCDD has caused a wide variety of diseases, many of them fatal, as well as it is not found in nature. The Agent Orange herbicide used during the Vietnam War was later found to be extremely contaminated with TCDD - Agent Orange exposure could possibly lead to server birth defects (Agent Orange Information).
After finding this out, Agent Orange was removed but not until two years after the Vietnam War. Regrettably, Agent Orange was used to help destroy around 5 million acres of forest, which still remain unrestored today. Therefore, the estimated 2.6 million Vietnam veterans had already underwent exposure to the poisonous herbicide that continues to plague them today (Agent Orange Information).
Correspondingly, most of the Vietnam veterans still suspect that their illnesses are linked somehow to their exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, and some of them believe that their children have suffered from Agent Orange diseases relating to birth defects or conditions such as spinal bifida. Veterans who believe that they or their children are suffering from Agent Orange diseases were recently encouraged to apply to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to see if they qualify for benefits/medical treatment related to their Agent Orange diseases (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs).
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are a number of illnesses and conditions that are classified as Agent Orange diseases. Here are some official recognized diseases and conditions linked to Agent Orange by the VA:

• Soft tissue sarcoma
• Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
• Hodgkin's disease
• Chloracne
• Respiratory cancers (including cancers of the lung, larynx, trachea & bronchus)
• Prostate cancer
• Multiple myeloma
• Peripheral neuropathy 
(acute or subacute)
• Spinal bifida
• Porphyria cutanea tarda
• Increased rate of primary liver cancer & oropharynx cancer
• Miscarriage
• Stillbirth
• Premature birth
• Hyditiform mole & choriocarcinoma
• Anencephalia
• Microcephalia
• Hydrocephalia
• Cerebral palsy
• Higher rates of infant mortality
• Contaminated breast milk
• Loss of appetite
• Insomnia
• Weight loss
• Fatigue
• Headache
• Impaired vision & hearing
• Hepatitis
• Liver cirrhosis
• Immune-deficiency: increased rates of infectious diseases & malaria
• Intestinal diseases: gastric ulcers, gastroduodenitis
• Dermatitis
• Hypertension & cerebral circulation disorders

In 1979, the first class action lawsuit was filed because of the Agent Orange side effects. Unfortunately, there was little progress for the Agent Orange side effects sufferers until a judge (Jack Weinstein) assigned to the case in 1983 put it on a fast track to settlement. In 1985, an out of court settlement, between the Vietnam Veterans and the chemical manufactures, created a fund for Agent Orange side effect sufferers (Agent Orange Lawsuits).
However, the $180 million settlement fund was completely depleted by 1994, by only paying out just 50,000 of the 2.4 million peoples exposed and potentially suffering Agent Orange side effects. Since the settlement fund required that there must be Agent Orange side effects shown and "total disability" demonstrated to receive money for each year between 1971 and 1994, many people that suffered Agent Orange side effects after 1994 were not included. In addition, there was a lack of awareness amongst Vietnam veterans that a class action Agent Orange side effects settlement had been formed (Agent Orange Lawsuits).
Thankfully, a tied Supreme Court vote on June 9th of 2003, allowed the Vietnam veterans that have developed Agent Orange illnesses after 1994 to sue the compound's manufacturers despite the 1985 settlement. Even though the Vietnam War was decades ago, some Vietnam veterans are now just beginning to suffer the serious effects of Agent Orange exposure. The 1985 Agent Orange settlement excluded many Vietnam veterans that have suffered, are suffering, and will continue to suffer because of Agent Orange exposure (Agent Orange Lawsuits).
On the flip side, millions of Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange during the war as well, but most Americans' are unaware of it. It is estimated that today approximately a million or more people have disabilities and/or other health problems linked to Agent Orange, according to a number of pilot studies made in Vietnam. These studies estimate that approximately 100,000 of these adversely affected people are disabled children (Fawthrop).
Additionally, based on the high percentage of people in need of assistance and the extremely difficult situation many of them have to face, the Vietnam Red Cross (VNRC) has set up a special fund and taken the lead to mobilize support in order to provide humanitarian assistance. The people affected by Agent Orange are not only suffering from severe disabilities and a multitude of other health problems, but also from the associated effects of not being able to integrate into normal life. Many children cannot go to school and their parents are often unable to work (Fawthrop). Here is a very brief list of some the birth defects caused by Agent Orange continuing in Vietnam today, as follows:
• Large head syndrome
• Retardation
• Severe bone malformation
• Spinal Bifida
• Uncontrollable muscle spasm
• Hydroencephalitis
• Missing vital body parts: arms, legs, eyes, fingers and toes, etc…
• Stillborn deformed fetuses

The consequences of spraying these toxic chemicals continue to have devastating effects on the environment. Millions of liters of Agent Orange caused a great ecological imbalance, destroying timber, wild animals and forest products. Without forest cover to retain water, flooding in the rainy season and drought in the dry season has adversely affected agricultural production. Topsoil is easily washed away, further hindering forest recovery. While the uplands have been and continue to be eroded, the lowlands have become choked with sediment, further increasing the threat of flooding.
Professor Nhan, the former president of the Vietnamese Red Cross, denounced the action as "a massive violation of human rights of the civilian population, and a weapon of mass destruction" (Fawthrop).
Approximately 10,000 or more U.S. war veterans, who were exposed to Agent Orange during the war, receive disability benefits for various types of cancer and other serious health problems that have been linked to Agent Orange. "American victims of Agent Orange will get up to $1500 a month. However most Vietnamese families affected receive around 80,000 Dong a month, just over $5 dollars, in government support for each disabled child," Professor Nhan said (Fawthrop).
While U.S. veterans have won partial compensation for their exposure to the deadly toxin, Vietnamese victims have not received a single cent of compensation or humanitarian aid from the U.S. government or the chemical companies that produced the defoliant, despite their numerous requests for aid.
To sum it all up, in all honesty, the United States should never have been involved in the Vietnam War – this was between them, not us. North Vietnam was battling for ownership of South Vietnam, so that they would be a unified communist nation. So to prevent another domino effect and the further spread of communism, the U.S. became involved in this civil war and stood behind the South Vietnamese leader, Diem
The further and further was engrossed ourselves into the Vietnam War, many American and Vietnamese lives were touched by grief, fear, but most of all anger. The Vietnamese suffered the most, while their children were dying in the street, villages (to this day) remained nothing more than charred ashes, and bombs destroyed thousands of innocent civilians – young and old.
As the emotionally and physically terror of death continues to live as a result from the Vietnam War, no one will never forget the key factor of it all, Agent Orange: The Silent Assassin.

Works Cited List

"Agent Orange." U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 2006. 17 December 2006.

"Agent Orange Information." Agent Orange Lawsuits. 17 December 2006.

"Agent Orange Lawsuits." Agent Orange Lawsuits. 17 December 2006.

"Agent Orange, Operation Ranch Hand: Vietnam War Herbicides." 15th Field Artillery:
Vietnam Artillerymen. 04 December 2006. LANDSCAPER.NET. 17 December 2006.

"Background on Agent Orange." The Dow Chemical Company. 2006. 17 December 2006.

Fawthrop, Tom. "Vietnam's war against Agent Orange." BBC News. 14 June 2004.
17 December 2006.

Rotter, Andrew J. "The Causes of the Vietnam War." Modern American Poetry.
1999. Oxford UP. 17 December 2006.
Return to