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Vietnam, Laos Nationalist Fighter Honored By Lao Hmong

Vietnam, Laos Nationalist Fighter Honored By Lao Hmong

CPPA – Center for Public Policy Analysis
February 17, 2011, Washington, D.C. and Fresno, California

The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) marked events and ceremonies in Fresno, California, that were recently concluded honoring Major General Vang Pao.

General Vang Pao was cited for his important role in defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos, the Royal Thai Government, and U.S. national security interests during the Vietnam War, and its aftermath. Funeral services for General Vang Pao, 81, who died last month of pneumonia, concluded in Fresno, California last week.

Since Vang Pao’s death, the Lao Veterans of America Institute and Lao Veterans of America, of Fresno, have played a leadership role in honoring the historical legacy of General Vang Pao in defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos, and the Lao Hmong homelands, at funeral and memorial services concluded recently in the Central Valley of California.

The Lao Veterans of America, Inc. continues to press for General Vang Pao’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery and has played a leadership role with U.S. Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), and a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. Congress, in spearheading legislation that, if enacted, would provide burial benefits to Lao Hmong veterans at U.S. national veterans cemeteries.

“The Lao Veterans of America is supporting and working with the General’s family on the Arlington National Cemetery for General Vang Pao’s dying wish to be buried there, the place where soldiers who gave their lives for the defense of the United States can go rest in peace,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and founder of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI) and the Lao Veterans of America (LVA).

Standing in front of the Lao Hmong memorial statue in Fresno, California, with many veterans and their families, Colonel Wangyee Vang continued: “General Vang Pao served as Commander of the Royal Lao Army Military Region II. He is also best-known for his role as key ally of the United States from 1961 to 1975, leading the United States' secret army supporting American war efforts in Southeast Asia. Due to General Vang Pao’s direct involvement, many United States soldiers’ lives were saved in rescue operations conducted by the U.S. secret army.”

Colonel Wangyee Vang further stated: “General Vang Pao’s outstanding record of service in support of the United States of America warrants the authorization of a waiver to bury him at the Arlington National Cemetery.”
“General Vang Pao rose to the rank of Major General in the Royal Lao Army of the Kingdom of Laos and received the honorific title of Phagna Norapramok, roughly translated as Lord Protector of the Country, from King Sisavang Vatthana, the last King of Laos,” continued Colonel Wangyee Vang.


Colonel Wangyee Vang concluded: “A key ally of America, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and U.S. military… General Vang Pao commanded Military Region II in Laos, a strategically-critical area, where he accomplished the miraculous feat of holding off some of the very best divisions of the North Vietnamese Army’s for several years during their attacks and aggression against Laos, delaying the victory of communist forces in the region. U.S. veterans from the war in Laos have greatly praised the formidable leadership of General Vang Pao and the admirable courage of his troops, which supported American operations and saved thousands of American lives. "

On February 6, four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), wrote to the White House and U.S. President Barack Hussein Obama to request General Vang Pao’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery which was initially rejected by U.S. Secretary of the Army John McHugh on February 4, 2011.


“General Vang Pao led the Royal Lao Army during the secret war in Laos, fighting against the People’s Army of Vietnam…Commanding tens of thousands of Hmong men and women, Vang Pao conducted direct missions against communist forces and North Vietnamese supporters between 1961 and 1975,” the U.S. Congressional Letter to President Obama stated in their request to reconsider Army Secretary McHugh’s decision.


Historian and author Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, along with others, have also appealed for the burial of General Vang Pao in Arlington National Cemetery. http://www.tragicmountains.org


Hamilton-Merritt’s book “Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos” (Indiana University Press) chronicles the history of the secret theatre of the Vietnam War in the Royal Kingdom of Laos and the bloody aftermath of North Vietnam’s communist takeover. She served as one of the keynote speakers at General Vang Pao’s funeral ceremonies and has frequently spoken about the plight of the Lao Hmong people. http://iupress.typepad.com/blog/2009/02/in-response-to-recent-dire-developments-in-thailand-and-laos-regarding--the-horrific-plight-of-thousands-of-hmong-refugees-t.html


“General Vang Pao’s critical and unique role in defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos as well as the Kingdom of Thailand and U.S. national security interests during the Vietnam War are important to understand and remember,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C.

“For many years during the Vietnam War and its aftermath, General Vang Pao, as a Lao Hmong nationalist leader, staunchly battled the North Vietnamese Army’s bloody invasion and domination of Laos, and the Lao Hmong homelands, and combated communist Pathet Lao guerillas,” Smith said.

“Unfortunately, despite General Vang Pao and the Lao Hmong peoples’ many countless sacrifices, the communist regime in Vietnam continues to horrendously violate the territorial integrity of Laos and the basic human rights of the Lao and Hmong people;” Smith said.

At the funeral, senior lowland Lao political figures of the former Royal Lao government, as well as ethnic Lao Hmong and Americans, spoke in support of General Vang Pao's important efforts in combating the one-party Stalinist Pathet Lao regime, the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic (LPDR), which seized power in 1975, with the support of the North Vietnamese Army. Dr. Khamphay Abbay, former Minister of Education in the Royal Lao Government, praised General Vang Pao for his legacy of defending Laos, and the Laotian and Hmong people, from invading North Vietnamese communist forces.

“Moreover, the one-party communist regime in Laos continues to persecute and kill many of the freedom-loving Laotian and Hmong people, including many of the former veterans and their refugee families who once served with General Vang Pao and the Royal Lao Government, concluded Smith.

ENDS

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