The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

August 2002
AGENT ORANGE/DIOXIN COMMITTEE REPORT
   
 

Death of a Brother Soldier

BY PAUL SUTTON, CHAIR 

Professor Le Cao Dai, M.D., one of Vietnam’s premier researchers on the effects of Agent Orange on human health and recently retired director of Vietnam’s Agent Orange Victims Fund, died on April 15 after a short illness. He was seventy-four. Jim Doyle, Chair of VVA’s Public Affairs Committee, was in Vietnam at the time of Dai’s death and represented VVA at the funeral.

Born in Hanoi, Dai studied medicine during the war against the French. During the American War, he directed the NVA Field Hospital 211 in the Western Highlands of Central Vietnam. His journal, Tay Nguyen Ngay Ay (The Western Highlands During Those Days), published in 1997, describes the war between 1965 and 1973. Dai later served as department director of the 103 Military Hospital, one of Hanoi’s most prestigious medical centers.

Dai personally observed the first effects of defoliant spraying during the Vietnam War. He was a leading member of the 1080 Committee, which the government of Vietnam established in October 1980 to study the long-term consequences of defoliant spraying on human health. His research, conducted in partnership with American scientists, was published in Chemosphere, The American Journal of Public Health, and The Journal of Occupation And Environmental Medicine. He also presented his findings as a panelist at the 1999 annual conference of the American Public Health Association. He is the author of Agent Orange in the Viet Nam War: History and Consequences.

Dai directed the Agent Orange Victims Fund under the auspices of the Vietnam Red Cross from the fund’s inception in 1998 until shortly before his death. The Agent Orange Victims Fund provides humanitarian assistance to victims and their families. Anyone wishing to contribute to the Agent Orange Victims Fund in honor of Dai can do so by contacting the Fund at: agoravif@fpt.vn

Dai was considered Vietnam's leading expert on the damaging effects of the defoliant Agent Orange. He worked for many years with VVA’s Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee. He and George Claxton, the committee’s chair emeritus, had a professional and personal relationship that spanned more than a decade. Upon hearing of Dai’s death, Claxton said, "He will be missed by Americans and Vietnamese alike. He was a friend, colleague, and brother-soldier who kept up the fight for those directly and tragically affected by exposure to Agent Orange.’’

   

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