Archive for March 18th, 2010

March 18, 2010

A “freedom tree,” dedicated to the return of all POWs and MIAs from Southeast Asia

March 18, 2010

Remains of Vietnam veteran found; service set

Huntsville Item

Contributed The Huntsville Item

HUNTSVILLE — A memorial service is planned for Maj. Curtis Daniel Miller, a Palacios High School graduate, at 2 p.m. March 29 at the Dallas-Forth Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas.

After 38 years of missing in action in the Vietnam War, Miller’s family has recently been notified by the U.S. Air Force that remains have been found and some of those small remains have been identified to be those of Miller.

Miller’s mother, Nell Miller Smith, lives in Huntsville.

In late 1971, Miller was sent to Southeast Asia to serve in the Vietnam War and he was stationed at Ubon U.S. Air Force Base in Thailand.

On March 29, 1972, with a crew of 14 men, while flying over Ho-Chi-Minh Trail in Laos at about 3 a.m., the plane was struck by a surface-to-air missile and brought down.

“Beepers” were heard, indicating that some of the crew had survived the crash, but after daylight when planes from the base went back to search for survivors no one  could be found.

Since that time, Miller’s family spent much time, energy and and money traveling all over the United States, especially Washington, D.C., meeting with elected officials and the military personel trying to find information about the fate of their son and husband.

Miller’s father, Paul, along with 51 other family members with a missing soldier, made a special trip to Laos for information. Laos had promised the release of all U.S. POWs in the fall of 1973 when their “special” government was established after the war.

The group of 52 people returned home disappointed because the government of Laos said that it did not have any POWs.

Miller’s father died in August 1974 never knowing the fate of his son.

A “freedom tree,” dedicated to the return of all POWs and MIAs from Southeast Asia, was planted on the grounds of Palacios High School by his classmates in 1973.

Miller graduated from Palacios High School in 1964 and continued his education at Texas Tech University in Lubbock where he spent four years in the ROTC program.

He also met his future wife, Susan Rothrock, while in Lubbck and they married before he finished college.

Miller graduated from Texas Tech and the ROTC program as a 2nd lieutenant and a member of the U.S. Air Force.

He was stationed at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio for intelligence training and from there he was stationed at Laughline Air Force Base in Del Rio and then Reese in Lubbock.

Miller became a pilot and while in Florida was assigned to fly an AC-130 — a large cargo plane that was re-designed to be a gun ship.

While in Florida, was he promoted to captain.

Miller is survived his wife, Susan; daughter, Christy Miller Hollerich; mother, Nell Miller Smith of Huntsville; granddaughter, Madison Hollerich; sister, Paulette Miller Mumme and husband Bruce; sister-in-law Theresa Miller; and five nieces and one nephew.

March 18, 2010

EDITORIAL: Hmong refugees need our voice

EDITORIAL: Hmong refugees need our voice

U.S. should pressure Laos, Thailand on issues of access, refugee treatment.

Posted at 12:00 AM on Thursday, Mar. 18, 2010

More than two months have passed since Thailand forcibly returned 4,500 Hmong refugees who had fled from Laos.

For Hmong in the San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere in the United States who have family there, the plight of these refugees has been excruciating, and frustrating.

The U.S. government protested the forced repatriation and some members of Congress made noises about “reviewing” U.S. military aid to Thailand, but the evictions took place nonetheless.

A U.S. Embassy official in Laos on Feb. 26 finally was allowed to visit the Laotian village where the Hmong have been housed since their expulsion from Thailand — but scripted events with Laotian officials ever-present are unlikely to produce a true picture of conditions.

“You have the State Department saying the Hmong are fine, then you have the Hmong community hearing from their families in Laos about mistreatment,” says Nancy Ly of Sacramento, a member of the Hmong Leadership Steering Committee, a collaboration of 12 groups in five states.

The State Department, she notes, wants hard evidence. But how do you get that when Laos and Thailand will not allow international groups to independently monitor or investigate conditions?

The United States has a special responsibility in helping these refugees. It was, after all, the United States that recruited the Hmong to fight in the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s. When communist-backed forces took over Laos after the United States left in 1975, this country did accept Hmong refugees.

Today, nearly 250,000 Hmong live in this country. The top cities for settlement are Minneapolis-St. Paul (44,000), Fresno (25,000) and Sacramento (22,000).

At a minimum, our members of Congress and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ought to fight persistently for the following:

Consequences to Thailand for the forcible return of refugees to Laos, which sets a terrible example internationally.

Unhindered and continuous access by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations to monitor the treatment of the Hmong and to conduct proper screening of the Hmong for internationally recognized refugee status.

Allowing refugees who qualify to resettle in third countries — including the United States, where the Hmong have family connections.

One sign of hope is that the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, who is on a regional tour of Southeast Asia, stopped in Laos for two days of wide-ranging talks on U.S.-Lao relations last week.

The Hmong refugee issue should be a priority in high-level diplomacy with Laos and Thailand.

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