CA MAU, Vietnam--A 78-year-old Japanese photojournalist who documented the vast and ongoing suffering caused by the use of Agent Orange by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War returned to the jungle here where his life's work began.
What Goro Nakamura saw, now one of the world's largest mangrove wetlands, bore little resemblance to how the area looked 43 years ago, when it was devastated by chemicals sprayed by the U.S. military to remove cover for the opposing side.
The trip to southern Vietnam in October only reinforced his commitment to continue calling for accountability and capturing the scars and aftereffects on younger generations of the years-long operation.
NOT EVEN A BIRD CHIRPING
Nakamura started covering the Vietnam War in 1970. The conflict ended in 1975, and reunification of the country divided for nearly two decades was formally completed in 1976.
That year, he arrived at Ca Mau, the country's southernmost region, having heard about forests dying there and wanting to see it for himself.
It is believed that the U.S. military sprayed more than 70 million liters of Agent Orange between 1961 and 1971 as part of a sweep operation to uncover Viet Cong and North Vietnamese forces hiding in the jungle. Ca Mau was one of the targets of the operation.
Nakamura traveled by boat in the waterways of the Cape Ca Mau jungle. What he discovered took his breath away, something he had only heard about until then and was now in front of him.
It was dead silent, with not so much as a bird chirping, he recalled. Nothing but a field of thousands of mangrove trees destroyed by the chemical attacks.