4 out of 4 stars
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Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath by Randy Miller is the heartbreaking story of a Vietnam veteran, Zachariah Martin, who was exposed to Agent Orange and the fight of his life to get the disability benefits he deserved from the Veteran’s Administration. This fictional story is based on real historical events and was written to educate Americans of the unconscionable actions of the Veteran's Administration resulting in the denial of benefits to hundreds of thousands of Vietnam Navy vets. During the war, the Air Force soaked the jungle with nearly 20 million gallons of Agent Orange over 30,000 square miles of land. The purpose was to wipe out all of the vegetation along the shoreline so the U.S. military could see the enemy coming and not get ambushed. The troops were told that Agent Orange was harmless to human and animal life.
Randy Miller is very well qualified to address this issue. He served four tours in Vietnam; two on destroyers and two on cruisers. He was also in the Deck and Navigational Divisions on the third ship assigned to "Operation Market Time."
In 2002, the VA “reinterpreted” the Congressional 1992 Agent Orange Act to mean that anyone with the “Presumption of exposure to Agent Orange” must have had their “Feet on the ground of Vietnam,” or they must be able to prove they had been in “Brown or inland waters”, an intentionally elusive requirement by the VA that could never be met. This radical change in policy effectively cut off every Blue Water Navy Vet from any Agent Orange compensation. They accomplished this by putting these changes into their “2002 M-21-1 Adjudication Manual.”
I didn’t like the dialects used in the conversation. It was difficult to decipher. Otherwise, the tone was informal and personal and the story flowed easily.
I didn’t like the blanket statement about Asians in Chapter 14, “In the Far East, life was not considered sacred like it is in the Western world.” That may have been true at that moment in that place, but it is not a valid generalization.
I enjoyed learning about operations on Navy destroyers and cruisers and actual historical campaigns including Operation Market Time, Operation Sea Dragon, and Operation Rolling Thunder.
This book was professionally edited and well written. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in 20th century American History. This book would be ideal for high school and college American History classes.
I give this book 4 stars out of 4. After reading this book, I researched follow up actions in Congress and in the courts to determine where this issue stands today. I found that there was a Senate hearing in September of 2015. However, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2015 failed in the Senate. I also found a January 31, 2019 article published in Smithsonian Magazine, “Court Rules ‘Blue Water’ Vietnam Veterans Are Eligible for Agent Orange Benefits.” Mr. Miller should be proud that his efforts to educate Americans on this issue have resulted in veterans finally receiving the benefits they deserve.
Deadly Waters: The Vietnam Naval War And Its Aftermath
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