Press Release

Contact: Mokie Pratt Porter, Communications Director 202-628-2700 Ext. 146

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION
OF NERVE GAS CHARGES

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 8, 1998) George C. Duggins, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America, called today for a U.S. congressional investigation of allegations made in a joint report by Cable News Network and Time magazine June 7. According to the report, the nerve agent, sarin, was used in a 1970 mission in which a covert U.S. Studies and Opservation Group (SOG) commando team, reinforced with Montagnard troops, went into Laos to kill a group of Americans identified as military defectors. Sarin is the agent that was used in the attack on a subway in Tokyo in 1995. The report also claimed that the U.S. military used sarin during many clandestine missions to rescue downed U.S. pilots in Laos and North Vietnam during the Vietnam War.

"These are extremely serious charges," Duggins said. "We need to find out for certain if the United States did, in fact, use nerve agents during the Vietnam War. And if we did, we need to know who authorized their use, when they were used, and how many service members were affected. Secretary of Defense William Cohen has called for a military investigation. That is a good start. Vietnam Veteran of America believes that, in addition, Congress should use its oversight and investigative powers to get to the bottom of these charges," with particular emphasis on the operations of SOG.

"We must know the truth," Duggins said. "If this use of sarin did occur, and American service personnel were exposed to it, they may be suffering health consequences today. We must let the facts come out. The health of our veterans depends on it."

Vietnam Veterans of America is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."



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