Please click on ‘AGENT ORANGE’ to follow me on a visit to the present day Agent Orange victims in Vietnam. Scroll down below the photos to read the full historical account of the infamous ‘Operation Ranchhand’.


Vietnam and I go back quite some time. I have come to know and admire this country after dealing with Vietnam and its people for almost 30 years.

As for many others in my generation, it was the prolonged tragedy of the Vietnam War that caught my attention on a country so far away from my own. More specifically it was a legacy of war – so unimaginable in its sheer horror – that brought me to Vietnam for the first time in 1984. The legacy of ‘Agent Orange’.

The journey

The  legacy took me on a 2 year journey ranging from the inner workings of scientific warfare and senior policy making in the White House to the victims of maybe the most destructive and meaningless part of what the Vietnamese call the ‘American War’. In short: Operation Ranchhand – its official Pentagon codename.
In an increasingly desperate effort to locate and neutralize the hidden bases of their elusive enemy, the US air force sprayed a total of 72 million liters of dioxin contaminated pesticides over the forests and rice fields of Southern and Central Vietnam.

Thousands of hectares of forest and fields vanished, but the military objectives were never achieved. Operation Ranch Hand may have been long forgotten as a waste of effort and funds, if it were not for the harm it did for generations to come.

Walking the rounds with Dr. Phuong

I first heard about Agent Orange from a Danish trade union official. In 1982,  he told me about his visit to the Tu Du hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.  He had brought back with him a few amateur photos of poor quality from the hospital ward and from the basement collection of abnormal foetus. The unborn monsters (and this is what they were) had been removed from young Vietnamese women, who had grown up in the heavily sprayed areas in Southern and Central Vietnam.

The trade union official had a very hard time controlling his emotions, while he told me about what he had seen among the patients of dr. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Phuong.

Dying side by side
A few months later I realized my self that nothing could really prepare the human mind and heart for the experience of walking with Dr. Phuong on her rounds among the young girls that lay there two-and-two in the hospital beds. Some were dying side by side with others, who desperately clung to the hope for life without pain and fear.

A few girls had a bed of their own – those that were expected to die within hours.

Many other heart breaking scenes followed in hospitals, orphanages and in utterly poor villages, where I collected the facts and figures of a disaster of unbelievable proportions.

My companion, press photographer Ole Johnny Sørensen recorded everything in photos so horrifying, that most of them were considered unfit for publication by our editors.

Among them were the pictures of 4 year old Kim – a little girl in Tay Ninh, who had been born without eyes. Tears were constantly streaming out of her empty eye sockets – due to the agony of a rare liver cancer that was to kill her a few months later.

Thousands still suffer on three continents
The worst of it all may be that is still with Viet Nam today, what we encountered 30 years ago. Even though the last spraying missions by the US air force was carried out in 1972, thousands of people still suffer the consequences even today. In the past four years  I have visited victims all over Vietnam – in Hai Duong, Thai Binh and Nam Dinh provinces in the North, in Da Nang and Kontum in central Vietnam, and in Da Lat and Ho Chi Minh City in the South. The pictorial journey on this site represents only a few of the thousands of people, who are still suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

Waiting for an army to die

Most Agent Orange victims are Vietnamese, but not all. Large numbers of American soldiers and allied troops from Australia and Korea were also exposed to the deadly herbicides.

To this day the price is still being paid by victims across three continents – as vividly described in “Waiting for an army to die” and “Gi Guinea Pigs” – possibly the saddest and angriest books you could read about Agent Orange.

And just for the record – the outcry of the US veterans and their families was sufficiently embarrassing for the producers of Agent Orange to set up a compensation fund of USD one billion 30 years ago to assist the US victims with their medical bills.Only a few years ago, the Pentagon followed suit with a very limited compensation scheme, which makes it possible for US veterans to apply for assistance to pay their medical bills.

No compensation has ever been paid to the poor Vietnamese farmers by corporations like DOW Chemicals and Monsanto, who made huge profits on wartime deliveries or by the US government, who ordered the deadly chemicals.

For years it was left to the Vietnamese themselves and a handful of NGO’s to clean up this mess. Only recently, the US Embassy in Hanoi has approved funding (USD 3 mio.) in order to clean up one of the worst ‘dioxin hot spots’ in Da Nang, where the dioxin levels are still a 100 times higher than the legal limit in the US.

The US Department of Defence has also – belatedly – recognized that there is a direct link between dioxin exposure and a number of serious diseases, found among US veterans, who are now eligible for financial support. No such scheme is available for the thousands of victims in Vietnam.

6 thoughts on “AGENT ORANGE

  1. Interesting stuff. Hasn’t Obama made an apology since receiving the letter? I really enjoyed you blog, it takes on the darker side of the world in an informative way. Keep it up!

  2. I am a Marine who served in Nam. What do you know about TOXIC BRAIN SYNDROME? Also PTSD is a smoke screen and cover up to hide what really happened to Nam Vets…Thousands of Nam Vets on their return from Nam went to prison on their return to States for violent crimes…This was caused by AO and Dioxin and its effect on brain functions. AO?DIOXIN changed the Serotonin and Dopamine levels to cause bazaar mental behaviors..The VA and Goveernment rejects Toxic Barin Syndxrome and pushes PTSD to the extreme..They stop all all true research and stuidies on AO and DIOXIN..The whole truth about Agent Orange has not been told and the Government will not admit the truth about this…

  3. Carol Von Strum book A BITTER FOG is excellent book also…Professor Clark Smith Berkley Uninversity in CA.. had the Winter Soldiers Archives now defunct had a lot of info on this subject…Two Professors man and wife team of NY University did a study article on Nam Vets in prisons.for the American legion Magazine…Their jobs were threathened and they had to cease the research on Nam Vets in Prison…Thousands of Vets went to prison and over 100 thousand committed suicide…Senator Bob Graham of Florida tried to get a me a DIOXIN TEST thru VA to be done by CDC..It was flatly denied by Secretary Derwinski and the PTB POwers in 1989..No way did the GOV want to give DIOXIN TeSTS.. I qm 69 now..hopefully before my death the real truth about AO will come out….

  4. I hope my hopes come true…BUT THE PTB does not want to admit that Agent Orange and DIOXIN made many Vets crazy as hell..not PTSD but Toxic Brain Syndrome.. Carol Von Strum who wrote A BITTER FOG sent me a lot of good info years back..The Monsanto Court Brief was good info,,,DIOXIN is thousands of times more potent than LSD…Imagine what Terrorist could do with this if they could make it…In the USMC they use to say WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND….Thousands of Nam Vets went to State and Fed Prisons for violent crimes.. Do you think they will ever admit it…Keep in mind that Monsanto is owned by the Rothchilds…Mind Control is another scary topic..The GOV has some powerful mind control drugs also..and now they evn have Frequencies to control minds…AGEMT ORANGE was a Grand Experiment in a far away land..they used the people and soldiers as Guinea Pigs..just like the book GI GUINIA PIGS book says and the book An Army Waiting to Die…More Vets died from Agent Orange than Combat…Their is noi Wall in DC for all the Vets who died and got scewed up from Agent Orange or had deadly diseses or committed suicide or had Deformed Bbies…or past on death to their children were they would shut down and become para;lyzed..and what does the PTB call it..MS or some thing else but deny all this happened..MAY THE TRUTH COME ONE DAY IN THE FUTURE. and most of all JUSTICE………

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