AS HMONG, WE ARE ONE FAMILY.”

General Vang Pao
Fresno, California, 2007

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ICONIC FIGURE

Gen. Vang Pao is a leader and iconic figure in the Hmong community, and a key U.S. ally during the CIA-backed Secret War in Laos, a part of the Vietnam War, from 1960-1975.

-- Noah Vang, author, Jan. 2011. Courtesy GVP Family.

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LEADERSHIP

Vang Pao has been widely portrayed by his Hmong supporters and the US media as an American war hero and venerated leader of the Hmong people. The former CIA chief William Colby once called him ‘the biggest hero of the Vietnam war’.

— The Guardian, Feb. 2011. Courtesy GVP Family.

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MISSION DRIVEN

The legendary Hmong military leader, General Vang Pao, operated out of a base at Long Tieng in the mountains of Laos. He told the New York Times in 2008, ‘There were three missions that were very important that were given to us and to me… One was stopping the flow of the North Vietnamese troops through the Ho Chi Minh Trail to go to the south through Laos. Second was to rescue any American pilots during the Vietnam War. Third, to protect the Americans that navigated the B-52s and the jets to bomb North Vietnam.'

-- Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act, May 2018. Courtesy Xang Vang.

 
“LET ME BE BORN A HMONG AGAIN, SO WE CAN LOVE EACH OTHER ALL OVER AS WE DID DURING MY LIFETIME.”

General Vang Pao
June 2010
 

HIS LIFE
General Vang Pao was one of the greatest military commanders during the Secret War in Laos, a part of the Vietnam conflict, from 1960 to 1975. He began his military career as an officer in the French army in the early 1940s. Later, as a major general he commanded the Royal Lao Army’s Military Region II, which he fought to protect in order to preserve democracy, freedom, and liberty for his country. Furthermore, he assisted the United States in her quest to stop the spread of communism in Southeast Asia during this military conflict. As a leader, he dedicated his lifelong career to seek justice and promote the importance of education, cultural preservation, family unity, and public service to his people worldwide. Today he is revered and will be remembered by many as the Father of the Hmong People.
[Book, page 11 / Above video courtesy Lar Yang & Lu Vang of Txawb Magazine, Fresno, California]


NWS LUB NEEJ
Nai Phoo Vaj Pov yog ib tug thawj tub rog tshaj lij heev nyob rau kob tsov rog Secret War nyob hauv lub tebchaws Lostsuas thaum xyoo 1960 txog 1975, uas yog ib feem ntawm kob tsov rog nyab Laj. Nws tau pib ua hauj lwm tub rog nrog rau tsoom fwv Fabkis thaum 1940 tawm ntawd. tom qab no uas nws tau txais lub meej mom ua tus tuam thuaj tub rog peb lub hnub qub dawb lawm, nws kuj los tuav tsoom tub rog nyob rau sab ciam teb 2 uas nws tau los tiv thaiv lub tebchaws Lostsuas kom muaj kev ywj pheej, vaj huam sib luag thiab vam meej rau nws lub tebchaws. Nws kuj tau pab lub tebchaws Ameliskas tiv thaib tawm tsav tog kooj sam nyob rau hauv Asia sab hnub tuaj qab teb. Los ua ib tug thawj coj, nws tau muab nws lub neej los tho txoj hau kev kom muaj kev ncaj ncees, txhawb nqa kev kawm ntaub kawm ntawv, Hmoob tej kab lis kev cai, kev thooj siab koom ntsws, thiab kev nrhiav noj nrhiav haus rau ntawm nws tsev neeg nyob qhov txhia qhov chaw. Niaj hnub no coob leej ntau tus hawm txog nws yam li ib leej Txiv ntawm haiv neeg Hmoob
[Book, page 12]

In 2006, I created this “General Vang Pao” poster as a gift to honor his contribution to our history and people at Prom Center in Oakdale, Minn. Courtesy Noah Vang. Below images of Vang Pao were taken in Padong, Laos, in 1961-62 (from Times Magazine).

“VANG PAO WAS NATURALLY INTELLIGENT, AN EXPERT GUERRILLA FIGHTER. THAT’S WHY I SOUGHT AFTER HIM.”

Colonel James W. Lair
June 2011

Gen. Vang Pao organized a farewell party for Bill Lair in 1968 at Long Cheng, Headquarters of Military Region 2, in Laos. Next to Lair is his deputy Pat Landry. Courtesy Bill Lair.

In 1960, the C.I.A.’s Bill Lair recruited Vang Pao, an officer in the Royal Lao Army, to lead the agency’s paramilitary fight upcountry. Vang Pao had said, “‘We can’t live with the Communists,’” Lair recounted seven years ago in an interview for the Vietnam Archive Oral History Project at Texas Tech University. “‘You give us the weapons, and we’ll fight the Communists.’” In the final days of the Eisenhower administration, the C.I.A. began shipping weapons and military materiel to the Hmong. (Click here to listen to his interview by Tim Weiner of The New Times).

— “Gen. Vang Pao’s Last War”, The New York Times, May 2008


President John F. Kennedy speaks at news conference regarding the dire situation in Laos. Courtesy JFK Library.

President Kennedy: “I want to make it clear to the American people, and to all of the world, that all we want in Laos is peace, not war -- a truly neutral government, not a cold war pawn, a settlement concluded at the conference table and not on the battlefield.

“Our response will be made in close cooperation with our allies and the wishes of the Laotian government. We will not be provoked, trapped, or drawn into this or any other situation but I know that every American will want his country to honor its obligations to the point that freedom and security of the free world and ourselves may be achieved.”

— President Kennedy's News Conferences, News Conference 8, March 23, 1961 (Full speech audio is below.)


An NBC documentary about Gen. Vang Pao and his troops during the war (Vang, 1970). Thumbnail image courtesy Col. Ly Teng.



THIS SECRET WAR THAT GEN. VANG PAO AND WE FOUGHT IN CHANGED THE FATE OF OUR HMONG PEOPLE.”

Mr. Neng Vang
St. Paul, Minnesota, 2003

"When fighting broke out in Laos at the end of 1959, Vang Pao had grown concerned that the Hmong were likely to suffer reprisals from the Communists because of the Hmongs' previous close association with the French. Encouraged by General Phoumi and assisted by a US Special Forces team, he began to organize a Hmong stay-behind force on the southeastern edge of the Plain of Jars [PDJ]. If the Communists occupied the Plaine, Vang Pao intended to relocate the Hmong to seven strategic mountaintops surrounding the PDJ and carry on the fight.”

— William M. Leary, “Supporting the ‘Secret War’", CIA Air Operations in Laos, 1955-1974

Video clip of British reporter touring frontline with Gen. Vang Pao and his army, late 1960s. Pearson TV, London.


Source: THE PRESIDENT'S DAILY BRIEF 30 AUGUST 1969 / CIA.GOV


Operation Kou Kiet, 1970

Operation Kou Kiet in 1970-71 of the Secret War in Laos (from 1960-1975). Courtesy GVP Family.


All my life, I have devoted everything to my Hmong people. I consistently sought out the best for them. I always encouraged every child to reach his or her full potential because they are our future.

”Everything that I did, I did it with three things in mind: first, I wanted to make sure my Hmong people were globally recognized; second, I asked that we preserve our distinguished and unique culture because it gives us an identity and symbolizes who we are in the world; and third, I never wanted anyone to look down upon us as a people, but for us to utilize every given opportunity to strive for the better so that we can be the ideal role model in every community that we live in.”

General Vang Pao
California, 2001
General Vang Pao reads to students at Hamline Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo from school collection.


General Vang Pao reads to students at Hamline Elementary School in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo from school collection.

Fresno Unified School District names an elementary school after General Vang Pao  in Fresno, California, c. 2012. Thua Vang Collection.


Fresno Unified School District names an elementary school after General Vang Pao in Fresno, California, c. 2012. Thua Vang Collection.


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