WHILE in Hawke's Bay on Tuesday and Wednesday for a funeral, I saw an odd connection between the family member who's passed on and a local campaign that appears to be developing strong grassroots support.
The funeral was for my brother-in-law, Arthur Frederickson, who died after a very long illness, the roots of which go back 55 years.
Arthur was a lovely bloke and although he trained as a professional factory inspector for what was then the Labour Department, his heart lay in the New Zealand Army and many years of his life were spent as a soldier. This commitment was almost certainly the cause of his many years of ill-health. Sometime in the 1960s, Arthur volunteered to be part of the New Zealand Army contingent that went to fight in Vietnam.
This was not a cushy number; he was a sergeant in an artillery group that was very close to the frontline.
With the enemy, known as the Viet Cong, making use of the dense jungle for hit and run raids against the American forces and their allies, the Americans decided that a quick way of cramping the Viet Cong's jungle tactics would be to destroy the jungle.
To implement this strategy, more than 72 million litres of defoliant was sprayed over 1.8 million ha of Vietnam in the 10 years of the war. The most widely used was named "Agent Orange", after the identifying stripe on the barrels. Arthur and his comrades, being deployed close to the battle front as artillerymen were doused with this malign concoction on a regular basis.