Posts tagged ‘Royal of Laos’

October 29, 2013

William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Volatile Laos and Iran, Is Dead at 90

William H. Sullivan, U.S. Ambassador to Volatile Laos and Iran, Is Dead at 90

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By

Published: October 28, 2013

William E. Sauro/The New York Times After being held prisoner, Mr. Sullivan became president of the American Assembly.

William H. Sullivan, a career diplomat who spent much of the 1960s and 1970s in volatile parts of the world — notably Laos, where he oversaw a secret bombing campaign, and Iran, where he was the last United States ambassador before militants took embassy employees hostage in November 1979 — died on Oct. 11 in Washington. He was 90.

He had been ill and in hospice care for many months, said his daughter Anne Sullivan, who confirmed the death.

Mr. Sullivan, a Navy gunnery officer in World War II whose ship, the U.S.S. Hambleton, was involved in the invasion of Normandy and the surrender of Japan, joined the Foreign Service in 1947 and spent the next several years moving through increasingly prominent State Department posts in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

He worked under Ambassador Clare Boothe Luce in Rome. He was a close aide to the diplomat W. Averell Harriman during the Cuban missile crisis and talks with the Soviet Union about limits on nuclear testing. In 1973, he was a top adviser to Henry A. Kissinger during the Paris Peace Accords, which led to the United States’ withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

These roles were in addition to his prominent and complicated turns as an ambassador in politically charged areas — first in Laos, then in the Philippines and, finally, in Iran. He was appointed by presidents of both parties.

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson named Mr. Sullivan ambassador to Laos as tensions with neighboring Vietnam were rising there. Though Mr. Sullivan was a civilian, he oversaw a covert bombing campaign in Laos that targeted North Vietnamese forces traveling the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The bombings were conducted by the C.I.A., and Mr. Sullivan initially concealed them even from visiting members of Congress.

When lawmakers learned of the bombings in 1969, many questioned whether Mr. Sullivan and the executive branch had the authority and expertise to carry them out. An aid worker in Laos, Ronald J. Rickenbach, told a Senate subcommittee that many of the attacks appeared to be “indiscriminate bombing of population centers.”

Mr. Sullivan, who was called numerous times to testify before Congress, defended the covert bombings and insisted that his knowledge of Laos allowed him to monitor them closely and to minimize civilian casualties. He later said that civilian deaths rose after the military took control of the bombing campaign.

Mr. Sullivan left Laos in 1969 and spent much of the early ’70s as the deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. He worked closely with Mr. Kissinger in lengthy negotiations with North Vietnam that produced the Paris accords.

Even as Mr. Kissinger praised him for his assistance in Paris, it was disclosed that Mr. Sullivan had been one of 13 government officials and four journalists whose phones were wiretapped from 1969 to 1971 with the approval of President Richard M. Nixon. The stated goal was to halt leaks to the news media. Mr. Kissinger provided the list of those to be tapped; he later said that he did so only to prove that officials were not leaking information.

Also in 1973, President Nixon appointed Mr. Sullivan ambassador to the Philippines, where he negotiated with the government of President Ferdinand E. Marcos to handle the flow of refugees fleeing Vietnam and, later, to close two military bases. Four years later, in a move Mr. Sullivan said surprised him given his extensive experience in Southeast Asia, President Jimmy Carter named him ambassador to Iran. Within months after his arrival, a rebellion began growing against the government of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, whom the United States supported.

By the fall of 1978, debate was raging within the Carter administration over what to do about the volatile situation. Mr. Sullivan clashed with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the president’s national security adviser, and complained that the administration was unresponsive to his repeated requests for clear instructions. Some criticized Mr. Sullivan for not seeing the seriousness of the threat to the shah, and thus to American political interests in the country. He argued later that the shah could have preserved power in a new coalition had the White House been more responsive.

In February 1979, a month after the shah had fled, the United States Embassy in Iran was briefly overtaken by Iranian militants, and Mr. Sullivan and several other Americans were taken prisoner. The Iranian government quickly freed them, but the episode prompted Mr. Sullivan to begin reducing the number of United States government employees in Iran, to fewer than 100 from more than 1,000.

Mr. Sullivan’s exchanges with the White House became increasingly bitter. In a 1981 memoir, “Mission to Iran,” he recalled receiving “a most unpleasant and abrasive cable” that “contained an unacceptable aspersion upon my loyalty.”

“When I was told by telephone from the State Department that the insulting message had originated at the White House,” he wrote, “I thought that I no longer had a useful function to perform on behalf of the president in Tehran.”

He left Iran that spring and retired from government service later that year. On Nov. 4, 1979, Iranian militants scaled the walls of the United States Embassy compound and took 66 Americans hostage, holding 52 of them until January 1981. The United States has not had an ambassador in Iran since Mr. Sullivan left.

William Healy Sullivan was born on Oct. 12, 1922, in Cranston, R.I. His father, Joseph, was a dental surgeon, and his mother, the former Sabina Foley, was a schoolteacher. He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and, in 1947, a master’s degree in international law and diplomacy jointly from Harvard and the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

From 1979 to 1986, Mr. Sullivan was president of the American Assembly, a public affairs forum at Columbia University. After 1986, he served on the boards of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and other organizations.

In addition to his daughter Anne, his survivors include three other children, John, Mark and Peggy Sullivan, and six grandchildren. His wife of 62 years, the former Marie Johnson, died in 2010.

July 12, 2012

“Here in Laos,” she said, “the past is always with us.”

Clinton, in historic visit to Laos, touches on toll of Vietnam War

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Click on picture

By , Published: July 11

VIENTIANE, Laos — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday became the first high-ranking U.S. official to visit Laos since the Vietnam War era, when the United States dropped some 260 million cluster bombs across the countryside in a nine-year campaign to crush North Vietnamese supply lines and bases. Clinton met with Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong and other officials for talks that centered mostly on addressing the lingering effects of that war — including a sense of mutual estrangement — and then toured a small museum devoted to its human toll.

In the sweltering afternoon, Clinton walked through an exhibit of dangling cluster bombs and crude wooden artificial legs made by villagers whose limbs had been blown off by unexploded ordnance, the legacy of a war that Clinton had protested as a college student in the 1960s.

Then she met Phongsavath Souliyalat, who had been blinded by and lost both hands to a cluster bomb. He told her he hoped governments would ban the weapon.

“We have to do more,” Clinton responded. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here today, so that we can tell more people about the work that we should be doing together.”

The stop in Vientiane, Laos’s capital, was a brief but symbolically significant part of a longer trip that has also taken Clinton to Mongolia, Vietnam and, later Wednesday, to the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, where she was expected to attend Thursday’s regional meeting of the ASEAN group of 10 Southeast Asian nations.

The trip is intended to underline the Obama administration’s much-promoted strategic pivot toward Asia, and more particularly to convince ASEAN nations that U.S. interests in the region are not just security-based, but economic as well. Clinton is unveiling a range of economic initiatives and private-sector business deals during the trip.

At the same time, the United States is trying to encourage ASEAN nations to assert themselves in a simmering territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea, which analysts view as a test case for how a rising China will deal with the world — through threats and coercion or according to international legal norms.

China claims most of the South China Sea, including portions also claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and the resolution of those disputes will determine not only fishing rights but the rights to potentially large reserves of oil and natural gas.

The United States has been pushing the ASEAN nations to unify around a legally binding code of conduct based on international maritime law as a means of managing the disputes and as a way of cultivating ASEAN as a partner in the larger mission of engaging China.

China essentially wants the United States to stay out of it, and it is unclear which way ASEAN nations will bend.Even if they do come up with a tough code of conduct, analysts say the Chinese are unlikely to sign on to it.

Finessing such complexities of the so-called Asia pivot has been Clinton’s job, and she has carried it out partly by showing up: She has attended every ASEAN regional conference, and with her trip to Laos on Wednesday, she has visited all of the 10 ASEAN nations except Brunei, many of them multiple times.

As her term as secretary of state winds down, analysts say, many Asian leaders wonder whether U.S. engagement will last.

“She’s carrying a lot of the water herself,” said Ernest Z. Bower, a senior adviser and director of the Southeast Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But when Asia looks at the U.S., they wonder if she has the support of the White House, of the political system, and that is a big question mark.”

After Clinton met here with Thongsing, her motorcade sped along bumpy, palm-tree lined roads, past people on sidewalks who stopped to stare. Later, she addressed U.S. and Laotian employees of the U.S. Embassy.

“Here in Laos,” she said, “the past is always with us.”

July 12, 2012

Hillary Clinton pays historic visit to communist Laos

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_21051906

By Bradley Klapper

Associated Press

Posted:   07/11/2012 09:22:36 AM PDT
Updated:   07/11/2012 09:22:37 AM PDT

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton watches a map which displays locations of bombing sites during Vietnam War, on her tour at the Cooperative Orthotic Prosthetic Enterprise Center (COPE), in Vientiane, Laos, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. COPE provides free prosthetics to those who need them including the victims of blasts of unexploded Vietnam War era ordnance, (AP Photo/Brendon Smialowski, Pool) ( Brendan Smialowski )

VIENTIANE, Laos — Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos in more than five decades, gauging whether a place the United States pummeled with bombs during the Vietnam War could evolve into a new foothold of American influence in Asia.

Clinton met with the communist government’s prime minister and foreign minister in the capital of Vientiane on Wednesday, part of a weeklong diplomatic tour of Southeast Asia. The goal is to bolster America’s standing in some of the fastest growing markets of the world, and counter China’s expanding economic, diplomatic and military dominance of the region.

Thirty-seven years since the end of America’s long war in Indochina, Laos is the latest test case of the Obama administration’s efforts to “pivot” U.S. foreign policy away from the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It follows a long period of estrangement between Washington and a once hostile Cold War-era foe, and comes as U.S. relations warm with countries such as Myanmar and Vietnam.

In her meetings, Clinton discussed environmental concerns over a proposed dam on the Mekong River, investment opportunities and joint efforts to clean up the tens of millions of unexploded bombs the U.S. dropped on Laos during the Vietnam War. Greater American support programs in these fields will be included in a multimillion-dollar initiative for Southeast Asia to be announced later this week.

After the meetings, she said they “traced the arc of our relationship from addressing the tragic legacies of the past to finding a way to being partners of the future.”

Clinton also visited a Buddhist temple and a U.S.-funded prosthetic center for victims of American munitions.

At the prosthetic center, she met a man named Phongsavath Souliyalat, who told her how he had lost both his hands and his eyesight from a cluster bomb on his 16th birthday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton place flowers at a statue after during a tour of the Ho Phra Keo Temple, in Vientiane, Laos, Wednesday, July 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Brendon Smialowski, Pool) ( Brendan Smialowski )

“We have to do more,” Clinton told him. “That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come here today, so that we can tell more people about the work that we should be doing together.”

The last U.S. secretary of state to visit Laos was John Foster Dulles in 1955. His plane landed after being forced to circle overhead while a water buffalo was cleared from the tarmac.

At that time, the mountainous, sparsely populated nation was at the center of U.S. foreign policy. On leaving office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned his successor, John F. Kennedy, that if Laos fell to the communists, all Southeast Asia could be lost as well.

While Vietnam ended up the focal point of America’s “domino theory” foreign policy, Laos was drawn deeply into the conflict as the U.S. funded its anti-communist forces and bombed North Vietnamese supply lines and bases.

The U.S. dropped more than 2 million tons of bombs on the impoverished country during its “secret war” between 1964 and 1973 — about a ton of ordnance for each Laotian man, woman and child. That exceeded the amount dropped on Germany and Japan together in World War II, making Laos the most heavily bombed nation per person in history.

Four decades later, American weapons are still claiming lives. When the war ended, about a third of some 270 million cluster bombs dropped on Laos had failed to detonate, leaving the country awash in unexploded munitions. More than 20,000 people have been killed by ordnance in postwar Laos, according to its government, and contamination throughout the country is a major barrier to agricultural development.

Cleanup has been excruciatingly slow. The Washington-based Legacies of War says only 1 percent of contaminated lands have been cleared and has called on Washington to provide far greater assistance. The State Department has provided $47 million since 1997, though a larger effort could make Laos “bomb-free in our lifetimes,” California Rep. Mike Honda argued.

“Let us mend the wounds of the past together so that Laos can begin a new legacy of peace,” said Honda, who is Japanese-American.

The U.S. is spending $9 million this year on cleanup operations for unexploded ordnance in Laos, but is likely to offer more in the coming days.

It is part of a larger Obama administration effort to reorient the direction of U.S. diplomacy and commercial policy as the world’s most populous continent becomes the center of the global economy over the next century. It is also a reaction to China’s expanding influence.

Despite America’s difficult history in the region, nations in Beijing’s backyard are welcoming the greater engagement — and the promise of billions of dollars more in American investment. The change has been sudden, with some longtime U.S. foes now seeking a relationship that could serve at least as a counterweight to China’s regional hegemony.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has made significant strides toward reform and democracy after decades as an international pariah, when it was universally scorned for its atrocious labor rights record and its long repression of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s pro-democracy movement. The Obama administration is expected to ease investment restrictions in the country this week.

Vietnam, threatened by Beijing’s claims to the resource-rich South China Sea, has dramatically deepened diplomatic and commercial ties with the United States, with their two-country trade now exceeding $22 billion a year — from nothing two decades ago. Clinton on Tuesday made her third trip to the fast-growing country, meeting with senior communist officials to prod them into greater respect for free expression and labor rights.

Landlocked and impoverished Laos offers fewer resources than its far larger neighbors and has lagged in Asia’s economic boom. It remains one of the poorest countries in Asia, even as it hopes to kick-start its development with accession soon to the World Trade Organization.

In recent years, China has stepped up as Laos’ principal source of assistance, with loans and grants of up to $350 million over the last two decades. But like many others in its region, Laos’ government is wary of Beijing’s intentions. And it has kept an envious eye on neighboring Vietnam’s 40 percent surge in commercial trade with the United States over the last two years, as well as the sudden rapprochement between the U.S. and nearby Myanmar.

Persistent human rights issues stand in the way of closer relations with Washington. The U.S. remains concerned about the plight of the ethnic Hmong minority, most of whom fled the country after fighting for a U.S.-backed guerilla army during the Vietnam War. Nearly 250,000 resettled in the United States. The U.S. has pressed Laos to respect the rights of returnees from neighboring countries.

Washington also has been seeking greater cooperation from Laos on the search for U.S. soldiers missing in action since the Vietnam War. More than 300 Americans remain unaccounted for in Laos.

And it is pressing the government to hold off on a proposed $3.5 billion dam project across the Mekong River. The dam would be the first across the river’s mainstream and has sparked a barrage of opposition from neighboring countries and environmental groups, which warn that tens of millions of livelihoods could be at stake.

The project is currently on hold and Washington hopes to stall it further with the promise of funds for new environmental studies.

June 17, 2012

U.S. Air Force officials publicly thanked Hmong fighter pilots: With a belated salute, Hmong pilots reunite

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  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 16, 2012 – 10:29 PM

In a rare ceremony, U.S. Air Force officials publicly thanked Hmong fighter pilots for helping American forces during the “Secret War” in Laos.

Members of the U.S. Air Force and the T-28 also called the “Chao Pha Khao” Hmong pilots take a commemorative photo after receiving their service awards at their first reunion in Maplewood, Minn. on Saturday, June 16, 2012

For the first time since their fighter pilot days in Laos, the surviving members of the “Secret War’s” best-kept secret gathered Saturday in one spot — in Maplewood, of all places — to receive a public and official thank-you from the U.S. military.

In a rare ceremony, 38 elite Hmong fighter pilots, who flew alongside Americans during the Vietnam War, were awarded personal letters of appreciation signed by the U.S. Air Force’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz. Of those awards, 21 were posthumous.

“All Hmong aviators represented something greater. They became a symbol of the Hmong people, people’s resolve to live free. And they were a source of inspiration for both the Hmong people and the American servicemen,” Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, told the packed hotel banquet room. “Today we recognize the Hmong aviators who weathered many storms, braved walls of artillery, kept a steady hand on the stick, surfing the skies. … On behalf of General Schwartz, I thank you very much.”

As honored and moved as the Hmong pilots were by the special recognition, their biggest thrill may have come from seeing one another after nearly four decades. Thirteen pilots made it to the reunion. Like the Air Force tribute, they said, the reunion was long overdue.

“I’m happy with that. It’s just a bit too late, in my opinion,” Ya Lee, 59, a pilot from Vadnais Heights, said earlier this week about the recognition. “Many of my friends sure did a lot more than me. They’re not here to see it.”

The last time flier Yia Kha saw his old friend Lee was in an overcrowded refugee camp in Thailand. It was 1975, and they had fled to Thailand after U.S. forces left Laos. Those who had fought with the Americans against the pro-Communists were in danger in Laos.

Like most of the surviving pilots, they eventually resettled in the United States — Kha in Pennsylvania and Lee in Mississippi. Lee, 59, recently moved to Minnesota.

Last Wednesday, the day Kha arrived from Pennsylvania, the two friends stood inches apart at the Hmong Village shopping mall in St. Paul.

“Aw, what’s up, man? Long time coming to see,” Lee said, greeting his pal with a handshake and a pat on the back. Kha grinned, then stepped back to size up his friend. “He’s changed a little bit,” he said, playfully pointing to Lee’s biceps. “He’s a muscle man.”

They were joined by pilot Phong Yang of Maplewood, who helped organize the reunion. The trio’s mini-reunion at the Hmong Village kicked off a weekend of reminiscing for the pilot crew, once known by their code name — “Chao Pha Khao” or Lords of the White Mountains.

‘Fly until you die’

From 1967 to 1975, five waves of Hmong men completed a U.S. training program in Southeast Asia, where they learned to fly T-28 propeller planes and helicopters. In all, 38 men swore to “fly until you die” and became part of the Hmong fighter pilot squadron.

Under the leadership of legendary Gen. Vang Pao of the Royal Army of Laos, the Hmong pilots flew many times a day in Laos during the U.S.-led covert war against pro-Communist forces. They bombarded the Ho Chi Minh Trail — the Viet Cong supply route — and provided cover for ground troops. They also helped rescue downed pilots and assisted U.S. forces in communicating with Hmong allies.

More than half of them were killed in action.

“If you look at what they did, they’re really, really brave guys, said Mike Martin, public affairs specialist for the Air Force Special Operations Command. “Their operations tempo — how many missions they were doing — it’s amazing. They were really fighting hard.”

Back in Laos, the pilots were like a family. Here in America, they keep in touch by phone and exchange pictures, but they hadn’t all been together since leaving Laos in 1975. “Many of us still have to work for a living and we live far apart,” Lee said.

‘It’s long overdue’

The idea for Saturday’s reunion was born when one pilot, Kha, was honored in 2010 at the Pentagon. He received a certificate of appreciation and congratulatory words from Gen. Schwartz himself.

“We’re here to remedy something that wasn’t done right, to acknowledge the service of our partners many years ago,” Schwartz told Kha at the ceremony. “Certainly I would call them battle buddies. It’s long overdue.”

Kha, the general noted, distinguished himself as a particularly courageous flier who many times ignored his own personal safety. One mission in particular stands out. An American pilot was suddenly in need of a Hmong “backseater” to fly with him and help in a dangerous rescue mission of a downed U.S. pilot.

Kha, then known as Robin ’09, volunteered to fly with American pilot Craig Duehring into a heavily contested zone. Duehring went on to serve as assistant secretary of the Air Force and was key to finally getting all the pilotsrecognized.

Eve Vang, whose father, Maj. Lee Lue, was a legendary pilot who flew thousands of missions before being shot down in 1969, was moved to tears while watching a video. It showed old photos of the Hmong pilots with cocky smiles standing proudly next to their planes. She said she was struck by how much her father and the other young Hmong men had to overcome to learn how to fly so quickly.

“These pilots were teachers. They were farmers. They didn’t know anything about guns or flying,” she said. “It shows they had potential.”

The sound of champagne corks popping echoed across the room as the pilots toasted their fallen buddies.

At the close of the ceremony, they already were talking of more reunions — only this time, they vowed, they would not wait so long.

Allie Shah •  612-673-4488

May 26, 2012

Thank You For Your Service: DEDICATED TO THE U.S. SECRET ARMY IN THE KINGDOM OF LAOS 1961 – 1973

(Danny Johnston/ Associated Press ) – Madeline Grace Wallace, 4, carries flags at the National Cemetery in Little Rock, Ark., Friday, May 25, 2012.

The girl and her mother visited the cemetery to place flags on graves for Memorial Day.

“missing picture”

May 21, 2012

This time of the year, thousands of visitors come from around the world to Arlington National Cemetery to honor and remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Zackary Leetham, pictured, visited Arlington with his family. The Leethams didn’t have a friend or loved one buried at Arlington, but came to honor all others. Photo by 2LT James Wirthlin, USAF.

The story of this Memorial is a story of sacrifice and patriotic valor by American Advisers, Lao and Hmong combat soldiers in the jungles of Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War.

In Memory of Legions Lost and the
Soldiers of the Secret War in Laos.
_______________________________________________________

We stand in tribute of forgotten men…for their sacrifice, courage
valor and honor. We honor them by this living memorial…starkly
beautiful in its simplicity, for it stands defiantly alone, as did those
soldiers in their seasons of death. It will serve as a poignant reminder
of our battlefield allies, and is a tribute long overdue to proud Human
endeavor…courage and valor in a long war lost in the unfulfilled hopes
for Southeast Asia.

As the fallen leaves of Autumn
in unregimented ranks,
Countless unrembered soldiers
rest…eternally.
Let us now praise forgotten men…
and some there be,
Which have no memorial;

Who have perished, as though
They had never been.
But they served, they died;
for cause and by happenstance…
Expended in the hopes for Southeast Asia,
and will forever be remembered,
Mourned for their sacrifice.

If by weeping I could change
the course of events,
My tears would pour down ceaselessly
for a thousand Autumns.

Thursday, May 15, 1997
Salute to Lao/Hmong Patriots
& their American Advisers
Arlington National Cemetery

Press Release

U.S. – LAOS, HMONG MEMORIAL DAY EVENTS:  DEDICATED TO THE U.S. SECRET ARMY IN THE KINGDOM OF LAOS

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2012 — National ceremonies and public policy events are being held in Washington, D.C., regarding Laos and Vietnam.

The U.S. Congressional Forum on Laos and Vietnam continues on Capitol Hill following earlier veterans’ memorial services.

Topics of discussion in the U.S. Congress include: economics; trade; hydroelectric dam projects, human rights; religious persecution; refugees; and, veterans’ issues.

“Our people, who were left behind in the jungles of Laos, are still suffering from the causes of the Vietnam War,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute.

“We have come from across the United States to pay tribute and remember our fallen soldiers who have died to secure the freedom that we all enjoy today,” Vang stated.

“The plight of Lao, Hmong and Vietnamese political and religious dissidents remains of concern to policymakers,” said Philip Smith, Director of the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. “This includes the status of allied veterans who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, and their refugee families still suffering in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.” http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org

“It is also important to note that an official wreath-laying and memorial service, was conducted at the Lao Veterans of America (LVA) monument in Arlington National Cemetery, on May 11, to honor the Lao and Hmong veterans, their families, as well as the American clandestine advisors, who served in defense of the Kingdom of Laos, and U.S. national security interests, during the Vietnam War,” Smith continued.

“A U.S. Department of Defense Joint Armed Forces Honor Guard, U.S. Army wreath-bearer, and bugler, helped lead the ceremony,” stated Smith.

“Following the wreath-laying ceremony at the LVA memorial in Arlington, the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) honor guard also posted colors, and a bugler played ‘Taps’, in memory of the Lao and Hmong veterans and their American military and clandestine advisors…,” Smith commented.

“I am very honored, and pleased, that we are once again gathered here…,” said historian Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt.

Flowers were laid at a memorial ceremony held at the Vietnam War Memorial on May 12.

Participants discussed H.R. 3192, legislation introduced by U.S. Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), to grant burial benefits to Lao and Hmong-American veterans at U.S. national cemeteries.

Arlington memorial service cosponsors include: LVAI; CPPA; LVA; the U.S. DOD; Army; Air Force; Arlington National Cemetery; Counterparts; Hmong Advance, Inc.; Hmong Advancement, Inc.; and, Members of the U.S. Congress.

Speakers, and those providing statements, at the Arlington ceremonies include: Wangyee Vang, LVAI; Philip Smith, CPPA; Mike Benge, former POW; Hugh Tovar, Former CIA Station Chief, Laos; Toua Kue, LVA; Jane Hamilton-Merritt; D. L. Hicks, U.S. Special Forces Association; Christy Lee, Hmong Advance, Inc.; U.S. Congressman Jim Costa; and, other Members of the U.S. Congress.

The events also commemorate National Lao and Hmong Recognition Day, and Vietnam Human Rights Day, marked annually in May.

SOURCE: Center for Public Policy Analysis

Center for Public Policy Analysis:

Maria Gomez

or

Philip Smith 202-543-1444

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