Skip to comments.Arlington burial for Vang Pao, chief of secret CIA-backed army?
Posted on 01/12/2011 4:16:30 AM PST by edpc
Some U.S. lawmakers want an Arlington National Cemetery burial for the controversial Laotian Hmong ex-general of a secret CIA-backed army that fought communism during the Vietnam War.
Vang Pao, who died in California last week at age 81, commanded thousands of Hmong fighters in a covert U.S.-backed war against North Vietnamese and Laotian communists during the 1960s and '70s. His legendary skills at guerrilla warfare led some followers to see him as a minor deity.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
But he's not a hero to everyone. "Vang Pao is a controversial figure," Martin Stuart-Fox of the University of Queensland told AFP. "Some will see him as a great patriot and others will see him as someone who, by allying himself with the U.S., caused his people untold suffering which they were subjected to during these wars."
Right....no suffering under the SE Asian communist governments.
If the drunken, womanizing, pro-death, Ted Kennedy is *worthy* of being buried in Arlington National Cemetery, then the poorest, lowest, sandal wearing Laotian Hmong who fought in our SF Mike Force units against Charlie is too!The end.
And THAT includes Lao Gen Vang Pao.
Having spent a lot of time in Laos, I never had the pleasure of meeting the General but I met hundreds of Hmong who knew and loved him. The comment about him leading the Hmong to go with the “wrong side” in Laos is ridiculous. The Hmong are as anti-communist as any people that I have ever met. He followed the Hmongs natural tendency to fight communism. They are also “scary” brilliant warriors who have absolutely no fear on the battle field. I have also met several SF guys who pretty much became Hmong when helping them fight the North Vietnamese Communists. The Pathet Lao did not really exist, the Hmong were fighting the North Vietnamese invaders with the help of American forces.
He should be given full honors when buried with his fellow American warriors against the communist invaders.
Thank you for your insight.
How do you pronounce Hmong? With a silent H?
No H sound. They call themselves “Mong” but in China they call themselves Miao. Never call a Hmong a Miao in Thailand. It is a slander. Hmong means free. Thought Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood was a good depiction of Hmong people and their attitude toward friends. They are a very loyal people.
See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY19CjufTBM for some friendly Miao in China.
I spent two years traveling to refugee camps in Thailand to visit with Hmong concerning POW/MIAs. Also went to Laos three different times in connection with the same.
The year 1965 marked the beginning of major military activity in what became known as the secret war in Laos. Although the full extent of the conflict was not revealed to the American people until 1969-70, the war was not all that secret. News of the fighting frequently found its way into the pages of The Bangkok Post, The New York Times, and other newspapers.
The CIA was largely responsible for conducting military operations in Laos, but the US Ambassador (William Sullivan) was the man in charge. Sullivan imposed two conditions upon his subordinates. First, the thin fiction of the Geneva accords had to be maintained to avoid possible embarrassment to the Lao and Soviet Governments; military operations, therefore, had to be carried out in relative secrecy. Second, no regular US ground troops were to become involved.
The thin fiction still remains. The North Vietnamese invaded Laos openly and without regard to international laws. I know personally the CIA agent who was tasked to form an alliance among the hill tribes in Laos and Burma. He was instrumental in getting these hill tribes together to fight the invaders. He is considered to be the finest CIA operative in the history of that agency.
I have been to the Plain de Jar and have talked with many of the people who live around that area. There was no such thing as Pathet Lao fighting for the Laotian communists. This concept of such a force was used by the Lao communists (controlled by the North Vietnamese) as propaganda so they could say there was a revolution going on in Laos. A rather thick fiction!
As one CIA type stated, the Laos would rather make love than fight. The North Vietnamese found this out early on so they sent fully trained combat troops into Laos. The US discovered the Hmong and thus this secret war began.
There were American troops in Laos throughout the war. All had been ‘sheep dipped” and given civilian attire. Many of my fellow airmen were killed or captured when Site Lima 85 on Phou Pha Thi was overrun by the North Vietnamese in March 1968. I worked with Dr. Timothy Castle who researched the event and wrote “One Day Too Long” about it. We were members of the DIA team assigned to investigate POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War.
It was absolutely the worst and best assignment I had in my AF career. Worst because of the politics and the people I had to work with. Best because I got to travel to areas that very few Westerners have ever been.
My family lived in Laos from 1963 - 1972. My father was sent there to help get supplies (weapons and other aid) to the Laotion Military.
Thank you for your service and again, for the additional info!
The Royal Lao Military, correct? Laos fell to the communists shortly after the fall of Saigon in 1975.
I once entertained a visiting former Royal Lao Army general who was in charge of Southern Laos when it fell to the communists in 1969. He stated over and over that in all the battles that he fought he never counted one Pathet Lao dead or wounded. He was fighting North Vietnamese regular troops. He never saw, met or talked with anyone who could be called a member of the Pathet Lao. This is why I made the statement and it pretty much goes along with what I found out for myself inside Laos.
Do you remember any of the officers your family interacted with? Where was your family stationed?
There was a contingent of USAF in Savannakhet. They wore civilian clothes and lived it what was called the white house (because it was white). Our address in Savannakhet was the Pink House. This is a picture of our house when we first arrived
The persons specified below are eligible for ground burial in Arlington National Cemetery. The last period of active duty of former members of the Armed Forces must have ended honorably. Interment may be casketed or cremated remains.
Any active duty member of the Armed Forces (except those members serving on active duty for training only).
Any veteran who is retired from active military service with the Armed Forces.
Any veteran who is retired from the Reserves is eligible upon reaching age 60 and drawing retired pay; and who served a period of active duty (other than for training).
Any former member of the Armed Forces separated honorably prior to October 1, 1949 for medical reasons and who was rated at 30% or greater disabled effective on the day of discharge.
Any former member of the Armed Forces who has been awarded one of the following decorations:
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (Navy Cross or Air Force Cross)
Distinguished Service Medal
The President of the United States or any former President of the United States.
Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and who held any of the following positions:
An elective office of the U.S. Government
Office of the Chief Justice of the United States or of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
An office listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 USC 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive Schedule).
The chief of a mission who was at any time during his/her tenure classified in Class I under the provisions of Section 411, Act of 13 August 1946, 60 Stat. 1002, as amended (22 USC 866) or as listed in State Department memorandum dated March 21, 1988.
Any former prisoner of war who, while a prisoner of war, served honorably in the active military, naval, or air service, whose last period of military, naval or air service terminated honorably and who died on or after November 30, 1993.
The spouse, widow or widower, minor child, or permanently dependent child, and certain unmarried adult children of any of the above eligible veterans.
The widow or widower of:
a member of the Armed Forces who was lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be missing in action.
a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in a US military cemetery overseas that is maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission.
a member of the Armed Forces who is interred in Arlington National Cemetery as part of a group burial.
The surviving spouse, minor child, or permanently dependent child of any person already buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The parents of a minor child, or permanently dependent child whose remains, based on the eligibility of a parent, are already buried in ANC. A spouse divorced from the primary eligible, or widowed and remarried, is not eligible for interment.
Provided certain conditions are met, a former member of the Armed Forces may be buried in the same grave with a close relative who is already buried and is the primary eligible.
He became an American citizen after coming to the States. Furthermore, according to an previous PP article and a current Fresno Bee article, the Army routinely makes exceptions. Between 1967 and 1997, the Army made 196 exceptions.
It could have been that the committee members did not want to inflame relations with communist government of Laos, considering the US had just recently granted Laos “Most Favored Nation” status. Could also have been related to some of the controversy surround the General’s actions during the war.
It seems the committee took the easy way out of this decision. The General’s documented record and the testimony of Americans who served alongside him all support the exemption. While he was not an American citizen until after coming to the States, his military service directly benefited America in both the Vietnam War and WWII.
His family should have petitioned the French as well since he also served alongside them and his serviice benefited them, too. Wouldn’t it be egg on America’s face if they were to recognize the significance of an American’s exemplary contribution where America failed.
General Vang Pao was a warriror’s warrior. It appears that all American vets who served with him agree to that assertion. In this day and age, there will be few like him ever again.
You can read more about the Army’s decision and their past exemptions here.
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