Adm. Elmo Zumwalt & His Son

Continuing “Fathers Week” on Now I’ve Heard Everything, a very moving story today of a father and son caught up in an unpopular war, with an unexpected and poignant outcome.

In wartime, there are seldom good options, usually just the lesser of bad options.

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 — and, it turns out, 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 the Third, 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.

The two of them, father and son, wrote a book in 1986. That’s when I met them:

Less than two years later, Elmo Zumwalt the Third 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.

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