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Deadly Waters is a work of historical fiction based on true events that tells how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs perverted Congressional Law to cheat 229,000 Vietnam Blue Water Navy Sailors out of all possible compensation for Agent Orange caused illnesses. It is a book every patriotic American who has ever welcomed home someone in uniform by saying, “Thank you for your service,” should read.
This is a story of love, war, and the promise America made and broke to those sailors she sent to fight on the toxic waters of South East Asia. It’s told through the eyes of seventeen year old Zachariah Martin, who in the fall of 1964, leaves his family farm in rural Vermont to enlist in the Navy. After boot camp he is stationed on a destroyer which is quickly deployed to Vietnam. He and his ship are heavily involved in close coastal and river warfare. Martin grows into a skilled deck seaman, gunner, and helmsman. He manages to survive the constant dangers of the Viet Cong, and an unforgiving sea.
In spite of prolonged separations, his love for his hometown girl, Tally Goodwin, survives, and grows as well. After his discharge it blossoms into a strong and loving marriage. Side by side Zack and Tally face the many obstacles and hardships life throws in their path, including diseases caused by his exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange in Vietnam.
When they least expect it, they find themselves embroiled in the toughest fight of their lives with an organization they were counting on for medical help; an organization they, like most Americans, believed to be a friend to all who served their country with honor, but turned out to be a true and terrible enemy far more cold-hearted and callous then Zack or any of his 229,000 brothers had ever encountered before: the Veterans Administration.
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Randy Miller knows this story well. He did four tours in Vietnam: two on destroyers and two on cruisers. He was in the Deck and Navigational Divisions and was on one of the first ship’s assigned to “OPERATION MARKET TIME.” He has also helped many “BLUE WATER VIETNAM VETERANS” navigate the treacherous waters of the VA with their claims. He currently resides in one of Florida’s old timey, backwater towns with his wife, Shari.From Kirkus Reviews:
A Vietnam veteran struggles with his health as a victim of the U.S. government's defoliation program in this debut novel.
In 1964, Zack Martin from rural Vermont enlists in the Navy and is assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Hawke DD 894, which is predictably deployed to Vietnam. In addition to the perils of war, Zack contends with stark culture shock and the pain of being separated from his high school sweetheart. Despite sundry temptations, he remains true to her, and her steadfast devotion to him helps him survive: "I love you, Tally," he writes to her while overseas, "your love is the only thing keeping me going, keeping me sane here." He finally returns home and marries Tally, who's become a nurse. He soon discovers a recurrence of fatty lumps on his arms, which he'd had removed while in the Navy. He goes to a Veterans Administration hospital to have them biopsied and receives the grim news that he has soft-tissue sarcoma, a slow-growing form of cancer. From the beginning, Miller portrays Zack's experience with the VA, and the U.S. government in general, as frustrating and sometimes-hostile. For example, the VA claims it has no records that Zack was originally treated while on duty, which liberates it from any obligation to treat him for free. Also, it becomes increasingly obvious that his condition is the result of exposure to Agent Orange, a defoliant the U.S. military developed to destroy enemy crops. In real life, extraordinary numbers of Vietnam veterans developed serious health issues upon their return-so many that the government's position that exposure was harmless eventually became untenable. As heartbreaking as Zack's struggle with cancer is, Miller's portrayal of the government's indifference to his condition is the bleakest aspect of his tale. The author deftly transforms his thorough historical scholarship on the Vietnam conflict into a gripping drama. Despite the gloomy details of the story, readers will be buoyed by the love story between Zack and Tally, which, in many ways, is an improbable union from the start due to their different backgrounds. Overall, this book offers exactly what good historical fiction should provide: enthralling drama, believable characters, and scrupulous research.
A powerful fictional account of the Agent Orange debacle.
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