Laos, Hmong-American, Veterans of Vietnam War are Concluding Washington D.C. Ceremonies
The Center for Public Policy Analysis, along with Lao- and Hmong-American veterans who served in Laos during the Vietnam War, are concluding memorial and policy events in Washington DC, including those at Arlington, the Vietnam Memorial and Congress.
WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill, Washington, DC.
June 1, 2015 – Lao- and Hmong-American veterans, who served in Laos during the Vietnam War, and their refugee families, are concluding memorial and policy events in Washington, D.C., including those at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC), the Vietnam War Memorial and the U.S. Congress. The somber events are being held in the nation’s capital to mourn the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Royal Kingdom of Laos (RLG) to invading North Vietnamese Army forces of the People’s Army of Vietnam, and communist Pathet Lao guerrillas, and the bloodbath and refugee exodus that followed.
On May 14, Lao and Hmong veterans and their families from across the United States arrived on Capitol Hill for meetings with Congress. On that day, Members of Congress jointly introduced the “Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act,” to honor the veterans, and somberly mark the anniversary of the fall of the RLG and the joint Air America, CIA, and Hmong base, at Long Chieng.
“On May 15th, a special veterans’ memorial wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Lao Veterans of America monument. in Arlington National Cemetery, with the U.S. Department of Defense, to remember and honor all those who sacrificed, fought, and died defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos and U.S. national security interests during the Vietnam War, ” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the CPPA.
“A solemn 40th anniversary ceremony, and posting of the colors, was conducted in Arlington by a joint U.S. Armed Forces honor guard, the ‘Old Guard,’ and an Army wreath-bearer, and a bugler, who played ‘Taps,” in sad rememberance of the fall of the Kingdom of Laos, and Long Chieng, to invading North Vietnamese Army forces.
“The Arlington ceremonies were conducted by the CPPA and the Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), and were supported and hosted by ANC, the U.S. Department of Defense, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Members of Congress,” Smith concluded.
“It is an honor for me, as well as Mr. Patrick Hallinan, who serves as the Executive Director of the Army National Military Cemeteries, and Mr. Jack Lechner, Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery, as well as the entire staff of the Cemetery to host this commemorative event,” stated ANC Chief of Staff, Colonel Joe Simonelli.
“This is a powerful reminder of the actions of the Hmong, Lao and American service members who fought together as allies during the Vietnam War,” Simonelli said.
Founder, and President Emeritus of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), Colonel Wangyee Vang, PhD, was also cited and honored for his important leadership efforts over the years at the Arlington ceremonies.
“This Spring, we mark the 40th anniversary of fall of Indochina, that is, the collapse of local and US efforts to prevent seizure of control over Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam by the communist forces of North Vietnam and their puppets in Laos…, ” stated Edmund McWilliams, a Vietnam veteran and former U.S. Department of State officer.
“Cambodian forces which had been supported by the North Vietnamese would soon turn on their North Vietnamese mentors igniting a bloody war and inaugurating a particularly brutal regime under the Khmer Rouge.
“But the US commemoration of this historic Spring errs in the retelling of this tragic history. While there is an understandable focus on the terrible implications of Hanoi’s victory for our South Vietnamese allies, we find little, to no, mention in the U.S. media or in statements by U.S. officials regarding the plight of our other allies, the Lao, Hmong, Montagnard and Cambodian troops, and their families, for whom the Communist victory was also an extraordinary tragedy.
“This failure to recognize the sacrifice of our non-Vietnamese allies echoes the failure of the US government to make adequate provision for Lao, Hmong, Montagnard and Cambodian allies as they desperately sought to escape the revenge of the Communist invaders targeting these erstwhile US allies. There was little space in the massive US refugee program for Lao, Hmong, Montagnard and Cambodians.
“These courageous US allies were left largely on their own as they fled the prospect of execution or deadly re-education camps that the Communists immediately began establishing, or the ethnic cleansing perpetrated against the Hmong and Montagnard. Hmong, who struggled across the Mekong, fleeing aerial bombardment, including chemical warfare, were left to bare survival in rough camps on the Thai shore. Cambodians who fled the merciless Khmer Rouge found at best a crude welcome across the Thailand-Cambodian border. Montagnard allies of the US and their families, the brave fighters who risked their lives to rescue US airmen, had literally no safe border across which to flee…,” observed McWilliams in his Arlington statement.
Other speakers and participants at Arlington (ANC) included: Richard Xiong, President, LVAI; Philip Smith, Executive Director, CPPA; Pang Mang Thao, President, Lao Veterans, Minnesota; Pasert Lee, Hmong Alaska Community; Toua Kue, President, Lao Hmong veterans, Rhode Island; Chi Neng Vang, California; Nhia Long Vang, Lao Hmong SGU Veterans, President, California; Colonel John H. “Scotty” Crerar (US Army, SF-Ret., Green Beret), Ray Oden, President SFA Chapter XI (US Army SF-Ret., Green Beret); Lt. Colonel James K. Bruton (US Army SF-Ret., Green Beret); Jim J.E. Hooker, (US Army SF-Ret., Green Beret); Major Matthew Altman, US Air Force; Major Taona Enriquez, Air Force; Jack Langer, Congressman Devin Nunes; Kristina Solberg, Congressman Jim Costa; Grant McClure, President, Counterparts; Jane Hamilton-Merritt, PhD; Christy Lee, Director, Hmong Advance, Inc.; and Shoua Her, Director, Hmong Advancement, Inc.
A second wreath-laying ceremony, and procession, was conducted at the Vietnam War Memorial following the Arlington event on May 15.
On Memorial Day, flowers were laid at the Air Force, Marine Corps and John F. Kennedy Memorials.
Meetings on Capitol Hill are being concluded in the coming days.
The Arlington, Vietnam War Memorial, and Capitol Hill events also commemorate, May 14-15, National Lao Hmong Recognition Day, and Hmong Appreciation Day.
Ms. Jade Her or Mr. Philip Smith