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In an e-mail from New Zealand with the subject line: "At last," Rex Barron wrote:
It's nice to see and hear commonsense at last. I'm referring to your AO [Agent Orange] articles, of course. I'm a New Zealand soldier (infantry) who served in Vietnam 68-69. It may interest you to know that the NZ soldiers and families are a close knit family and therefore we know exactly how many went and how many have died since. I have been banging my head against a brick wall trying to convince my fellow veterans that they are not about to keel over with some dreaded lurgy brought on by TCDD. [TCDD is the trace dioxin that's present in AO as part of the manufacturing process. "Lurgy" or "lurgi" is British English slang for an unspecified or mythical disease.]
By using the population mortality graphs I have proved, successfully, that of the 3300 who went the 575 dead of various causes is quite normal.
At first glance it seems high but the percentage of Maori [The tribe native to New Zealand] soldiers serving was 20% higher than than the general population and tragically Maori die two and a half times faster than Caucasian. So unlike the scaremongers I used both population tables. Both Australia and the US used conscription and consequently have found it hard to come up with measurable numbers. In our case we were all volunteers and coming from a small country everybody is accounted for.
We were attached to the Australians so where they went we went.
There are too many fingers in the pie dish now with all the money that has been thrown around. It was your Mark Twain who said, "A man will not understand if his salary depends on him not understanding."
Thanks for the info and thanks for having fought alongside our troops in a nasty war.
BTW, in future writings to people you suspect get a lot of e-mail you need to have a more detailed subject line. Something like "at last" sounds like it's for "At last, there's a penile enlargement pill that really works!"
All the best,