On this Memorial Day 2020, a very moving story of a father and son caught up in an unpopular war, with an unexpected and poignant outcome.
In the 1960s, U.S. forces in Vietnam used the defoliant known as Agent Orange in an effort to make it harder for enemy forces to hide in thr jungle.
Agent Orange was very effective — but it also proved very deadly for hundreds of U.S. troops who were exposed to it.
In the late ’60s the Commander of Naval Forces in Vietnam was Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Jr.
His son, Elmo Zumwalt III, was in the Navy — and was among those exposed to the Agent Orange his father ordered.
Perhaps as a result of that exposuyre, the younger Zumwalt developed cancer.
Father and son jointly wrote a book in 1986. That’s when I met them.
Hollywood did make a TV movie based on the Zumwalts’ book, with Karl Malden as Admiral Zumwalt and Keith Carradine as Elmo III.
But less than two years after our interview, Elmo Zumwalt III died at the age of 42.
Admiral Zumwalt passed away in 2000, at the age of 79.
The U.S. Navy named a guided missile destroyer program the “Zumwalt class” in his honor.