American veterans regret for their deeds during Vietnam war

Washington, Mar. 11 (VNA) -- The Viet Nam war ended for nearly three decades but what it left behind is enormous, ranging from physical pains to psychological agonies for not only Vietnamese veterans but also their American peers.

A Viet Nam News Agency correspondent in Washington reported that the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington has recently received letters from American veterans in the Viet Nam war apologising and asking for forgiveness for what they did in the war.

An American veteran, who did not give his name, sent a letter to the Embasy on Feb. 21 saying "It is time that I apologize and ask for forgiveness from families, loved ones and friends of your regular Army soldier who died because of my actions."

The action committed by the veteran, who was a rifle leader in the U.S. troops stationed near Dau Tieng in Viet Nam's southern region, was his order to his troops to kill three Vietnamese soldiers who appeared badly wounded without determining if their wounds were fatal.

Recalling the actions, he acknowledged that the order was improper.

In the letter he wrote "Regardness of my state of mind and the circumstances, that order was improper. I offer no excuses or mitigating circumstances. There were none. What I did was completely contrary to my upbringing, my religious belief and my training as an Army officer."

He went on "I apologize for my actions that morning. I regret them more than I can ever express. Because of my rash decision, families and friends irrevocably lost any possibility of a normal and happy life with the three men."

"I continue to pay for my actions that morning. I realize that I have no way of asking for forgiveness from actual relatives of the three men. I hope by this apology to the people of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, that I may receive forgiveness and find some measure of peace within myself," he concluded.

Another American war veteran known as Ron Nesler from Las Cruces city in New Mexico, USA, also sent a letter expressing his regrets to the harm caused by Agent Orange sprayed by U.S. troops on Vietnamese people, and his willingness to cooperate in collecting medical data serving studies on Agent Orange/dioxin exposure.

He said he was greatly interested in the recently-organised Agent Orange conference in Ha Noi.

Serving in a US Army Artillery battery in the area of Ninh Hoa in 1970 and 1971, Nesler is suffering from prostate cancer and other agent orange related problems.

He is caring for his 31 year-old stepdaughter who was profoundly disabled because her biological father was a three year veteran of the Viet Nam war and has the same agent orange related cancer as him.

He confided that "My stepdaughter was born with a wide range of A/O related birth defects. These include cerebral palsy, clubbed foot and mental retardation among many others. Her health problems do not appear in any other branches of her biological family. I have extensive medical documentation on her birth defects as well as my own health problems."

He said "Most American military veterans of our unfortunate war with your country regret the harm caused by agent orange among your people. Many of us are inflicted by A/O as well. I am writing to express my personal regrets to you."

In the letter dated Mar. 8, he expressed his wish that A/O afflictions and A/O inflicted children be studied by someone legitimately interested in honest answers.

"We are willing to provide what help we can if it will assist in such studies of agent orange/dioxin exposure," Nesler added.--VNA