Frank J. Montoya

TOUCHED BY AN AGENT

Frank J. Montoya: Touched By an Agent
9th Infantry Division Soldier, Vietnam
by Michael Crook, 1967
It was another brilliant Battle Plan;
It would help the Soldier in his bitter fight.
It would make the jungle passable,
It would turn the darkness into light.

Defoliant Agents is what they were called.
There was Agent Orange and Agents White and Blue.
20 million gallons were sprayed in South Vietnam.
It killed mangrove forests, thickets, and jungle too.

“That Agent Orange really works!
Now patrols can see what lies ahead.
No more snipers sitting in the trees,
Just waiting to shoot our troopers dead.”

“No more slashing through the brush.
We can walk the trail without a sound.
The choppers can see us down below,
We can see what’s happening all around.”

Back in Washington our leaders smiled and said:
“This is the break we’ve been waiting for.
Agent Orange has leveled the playing field.
With the jungle gone, we can do much more.”

But it seems there were other effects as well.
How could we know? Not a word was said.
Only in later years would the truth be told:
Those agents can cause you to be sick or dead.

Now thousands suffer from a dread disease:
Leukemia, Lymphoma, Neuropathy are just a few.
Defects in childbirth and Cancers are commonplace;
Melanoma, Chloracne and Diabetes are listed too.

We were sent to bring Freedom to a foreign land.
We had faith in our cause and we served with pride.
But nature took her revenge in a most fateful way.
We were touched by an Agent; we had no place to hide.