As much information that there is out in the “internet” world today, I still find myself meeting people who don’t know about the Hmong. Hmong is who I am, my ethnicity. Although I’m no expert, I’m finding more and more of my readers coming to my site via search engine to read my Hmong blogs. I’m so glad to see that they’re actually people interested in learning right along with me.
This weekend, Memorial Day weekend, I went to visit a Hmong-Lao Veteran Memorial and just wanted to share the history of the Hmong Community where I live. As far as we’ve come, the CIA’s Secret Army to get recognition, there are still mountains to move.
History 101 as first posted on “Finding the Translation”
Hmong originated from Central Asia, where they lived among the Chinese for many centuries, mostly as slaves. Many Hmong people were targeted and killed. In a result, it forced the survivors out the mountainsides of Thailand, Laos, Burma, and parts of Vietnam to find refuge and hide. They farmed and raised animals as a way of life living together amongst small village clusters.
During the Vietnam War, many Hmong individuals known as the CIA’s secret army were recruited by the United States to help fight against the Viet Cong. The Hmong men were trained to be fighters and a force to gather intelligence. Their responsibilities included finding equipment that was being moved on the Ho Chi Minh trail and to help rescue American soldiers, mainly pilots, who went downs in Laos. When the war subsided and American troops started to return home and withdrew from Vietnam and Laos, the Hmong became targets of genocide. Hmong families had to leave their homes and cross the Mekong River into Thailand to find refuge and hide once more.
The Hmong started arriving in the United States from the refugee camps in 1976. The rest of these, are the readings on the monument.
In the early 1960s, Hmong Leader General Vang Pao was approached by the United States CIA to recruit the Hmong to Fight a “Secret War” against the North Vietnamese and the Pathet Lao communist during the Vietnam conflict. The Hmong Soldiers had very specific roles in the war, including 1) resuing downed American Pilots, 2) harassing communist troops, 3) guarding U.S. Strategic installations in Northern Laos, and 4) providing intelligence about enemy operations. Hmong Men and women served as guerrilla fighters. It is estimated that over 35,000 of the 300, 000 Hmong population in Laso died as a result of their involvement in the war.
In 1973, the U.S. pulled out of South Vietnam and Laos, leaving the Hmong in great danger. The Hmong were targeted by the communist regime that came to power in 1975 for being an ally of the United States. Hmong military officers and government officials were arrested and taken to re-education camps where they were forced to perform hard labor. Persecution, torture, and starvation led many to their death.
Following the evacuation of General Vang Pao and his military leaders and their families to Thailand in May 1975, thousands of Hmong fled their homes to avoid further bloodshed and persecution. The majority sought refuge in Thailand following a treacherous journey through the jungle and across the Mekong River. Other fled to the jungles and mountains in Northern Laso where they formed a resistance movement against the communist regime. Thousands of Hmong men, women, and children died at the hands of the communist regime. Those who escaped to Thailand spent years in U.N. Refugee camps. With no possibility of returning to their homeland, most Hmong refugees settled in Western countries, hoping for a better life.
From 1975 to 2006, nearly 150,000 Hmong have settled in the United States. The first Hmong Family arrived in Wausau on April 9, 1976. Since then the population has grown significantly, making Wausau and Marathon County the second largest concentration of Hmong in the State and one of the largest in the United States. After years of peril as a result of brave Hmong soldiers’ commitment to the CIA, Hmong families have found a new homeland in Marathon county and become an integral part of the community.
In 1962 the CIA set up a headquarters called Long Cheng for the Hmong military leader, General Vang Pao, in Xiengkhouang Province, Laos. Long Cheng (also referred to as Lima Site 20A) was located in a valley at 3, 100 feet elevation surrounded with mountains and was often described as “The most secret place on earth” during the Vietnam War.
After the fall of Saigon in South Vietnam, General Vang Pao reluctantly accepted the CIA’s advice that he could no longer maintain Long Cheng against the opposing forces. Between May 10 and May 14, 1975, U.S. C-130s and C-46s airlifted about 2,500 Hmong military and civilian leaders and their families out of Long Cheng to U.s. Bases in Thailand. The majority of the Hmong refugees, however, escaped by foot which took weeks and months before reaching Thailand.
Dedicated to all Hmong and Lao soldiers who served during the U.S. Secret War in the Kingdom of Laso from 1961 to 1975.
Remembering and honoring General Vang Pao and all Hmong and Laos soldiers who contributed to the American war effort in Laos for their loyalty, bravery, and patriotism in defense of liberty and democracy.
Their contributions and sacrifices will never be forgotten!
Dedicated in Hmong
Tsim tsa los nco txog txhua tus tub rog Hmoob thiab plog uas tau pab amelikas nyob rau npluav rog tiv thaiv nyab laj nyob los tsuas teb xyoo 1961 txog 1975
Nco thiab hawm txog Nais Phoo Vaj Pov thiab txhua tus tub rog Hmoob thiab nplog uas tau pab amelikas kev ua tsov rog nyob los tsuas teb rau lawv txoj key txhawb nqz, key muaj peev xwm, thiab kev ua pej xeem zoon tive thaiv lub teb lub chaw kom muaj kev thaj yeeb, kev nyab xeeb, thia key ywj pheej
Lawv tus txiaj ntsig thiab kev muab roj ntsha pua teb chaws yuav tau nco mu ib txhis!
I am Hmong, (an ethnic group of SE Asia) and a woman practicing life, finding the art in everything while building acceptance to everything that comes about on my Unusual Path.
Happy Memorial Day!