November 17, 2002
HONORED TO HAVE THE HMONG AMONG US:Central valley Hmong honor Vietnam War veterans during new year (KIM BACA, November 16, 2002, Associated Press)
Chai Vang was 18, living in his home country of Laos when he joined the CIA effort to fight the North Vietnamese in the Vietnam War.
"Our country had problems so we have to fight," Vang said of the communism that was taking over his homeland.
Vang, who suffered bullet wounds to the back and ear, was one of several Hmong veterans whose service was remembered during Hmong New Year celebrations in Modesto on Saturday, with traditional music and dance.
Organizer Chong Yang, president of the Hmong Association of Stanislaus County, said this was the first time Hmong veterans were honored during a new year celebration.
"It will also educate our young people that their father, grandfather or uncle fought in the war," Yang said. "Our young people are starting to forget. And it will also help us to educate the American community" about Hmong involvement in the war.
The United States recruited Hmong to fight against communists moving through Laos to South Vietnam. They were asked to rescue American fighter pilots and reduce ammunition and troops reaching South Vietnam. About 40,000 Hmong died from injuries or were killed in the fighting.
That's not a whole lot fewer casualties than the U.S. suffered, even though the Hmong population is tiny by comparison to America's. They were better allies than we ultimately deserved. Posted by Orrin Judd at November 17, 2002 12:08 PM