WASHINGTON, April 3, 1997 (GulfLINK) - Lieutenant General Dale Vesser, who retired from the Army in 1987 after 33 years on active duty, has been named deputy special assistant for Gulf War illnesses by Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
General Vesser is a West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar who wears the Purple Heart and Silver Star for combat service in Vietnam in the infantry.
General Vesser will assist Bernard Rostker in running the Office of the Special Assistant for Gulf War Illnesses, which was established last November to oversee all efforts within the Department of Defense dealing with Gulf War illnesses.
Born in Los Angeles and reared in Idaho, General Vesser held commands from company to division level. He served on staffs from battalion through the National Security Council. And in between, he was a teacher at the Armor School and at West Point, where he taught economics, government and political philosophy.
In his last military post, General Vesser was director of strategic plans and policy for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In that position, he was responsible for developing the nationís military strategy.
He served two tours in Vietnam, first working with the Army of Vietnam to provide support for the pacification program. He later fought with the Big Red One (1st Infantry Division) and then the 1st Cavalry Division.
Then-Lieutenant Colonel Vesser was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot in an ambush during a resupply mission to one of his infantry platoons, which was under attack by a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) main force battalion.
He won the Silver Star for action during that same firefight when he took control and directed the action until the NVA battalion withdrew some two hours later.
During the Gulf War, Vesser was a civilian and was serving as assistant deputy undersecretary of defense in the Pentagon where he organized planning to support the forces in the Gulf. During this time he arranged for the loan of Fox chemical detection vehicles and heavy equipment transporters (HETs) from U.S. allies. He went to the Kuwait Theater of Operations during Desert Shield and after the fighting oversaw publication of the interim Gulf War history.
General Vesser described his new duties as "a unique challenge." He said, "The Gulf War illnesses are especially frustrating because we lack answers for basic questions. So many of our troops have been struck down, not by the enemy on the field of combat, but by something we donít understand. They ask, ĎWhat have I got and how did I get it?í They deserve answers. But we havenít provided them. I hope Iíll be able to help find some of those answers."