Date: August 10, 2023 To: United States Military, Civil, and Political Leaders
Subject: Request to support to and amend Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 2402 to add a new category of personnel eligible for internment in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries and other VA benefits.
We, the members of the United Royal Lao Armed Forces and Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans of Vietnam War era, along with our children and grandchildren, the Lao community, and young Lao generation living in the United States of America, have come together to express our disappointment that Laotians of all ethnicities have been forgotten by the U.S. government in concerns to our sacrifices for those who fought, got wounded, and captured during the Secret War in Laos.
It is our great intention to inform the greater American community, including historians, U.S. veterans, educators and public policy makers such as the United States Congress and States Legislatures, about the truth of the Secret war in Laos. Many celebrate the Hmong veterans as talent fighters during the Secret War in Laos. However, there is less celebration for the low-land Lao or Lao Loum veterans, who were recruited and trained by the United States Military and Central Intelligence Agency. We fought side by side with the American military and CIA case officers, also enduring the stress of battle and eventual imprisonment in prison-of-war camps. We believe these Lao veterans are forgotten and ignored by the United States government.
Less informed members of congress and state legislatures have come to believe that the CIA’s involvement in Laos was with the Hmong alone. This is a misrepresentation as the Hmong were much smaller fighting forces who were consecrated in the upland areas of northern Laos. Here is a statement from Donald V. Courtney, Col. USMC Ret., regarding the low-land Lao and Lao Loum:
“The majority of the fighting in Laos was done by the low-land Lao or Lao Loum and their efforts and sacrifices saved countless Americans lives and rebuffed the progress of the communists into Vietnam and Cambodia”.
On March 23, 2018, Public Law 115-141 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018) amended Title 38 United Sates Code (U.S.C.) section to add a new category of personnel that is eligible for interment in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries and other VA benefits.
As a Lao veteran who served directly with Hugh Tovar, CIA Station Chief in Laos and who commanded over 1,400 Lao troops during the war, I and my fellow veterans have been denied the honor afforded to Hmong veterans. When I applied for pre-burial application, it was denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administrator Ame Callahan.
The current amended law only includes those of Hmong ethnicities and a limited number of Laotians naturalized by way of Hmong Veteran’s naturalization Act of 2000. All other ethnicities including half of the Hmong in Laos who helped the United States during the Secret War have been omitted. This includes all Lao veterans who emigrated to the United States prior to the year 2000. This is what Scott Walker, the Founder and Special Projects Director of the Coalition of Vietnam War Veterans, had to say regarding the amended law towards Lao veterans:
“This is a great embarrassment to all United States military and agency personnel who fought with these brave soldiers”.
Additionally, according to California’s 16th District James Costa’s staff member, a Hmong lieutenant Tong Vang has been selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration as an authority figure to determine who should receive the honor and benefits for their service during the Secret War. This needs to be resolved as it has caused great humiliation and confusion in the Lao Veteran community. I cannot believe the Department of Veteran Affairs would designate anyone outside their authority to determine burial rights in any National Cemetery.
My unit fought two battles in MR2 supporting the beleaguered Hmong. The first battle was in 1969. I ended up wounded, nearly died, and was hospitalized at the U.S. Air Forces Hospital. The second battle in March of 1972 to help support the Hmong fighters.
I think this controversy must be resolved before more Royal Lao veterans die and are denied the honor of the United States has given to a limited number of foreign national soldiers. The United States needs to respect all their allies involved during the Secret War. This law must be amended again to include all who fought and made sacrifices in during the Secret War in Laos and Vietnam or repealed.
Out of disappointment in our elected Representatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress for their lack of action on our behalf, we are hereby writing to you because you are the ones who can make amendments to the current law. This should include the Lao of all ethnicities, such as the low-land Lao, the Khmu, the Hmong, the Mien, the Thai Dam, and the Lao Theung. These groups of people have also fought as a U.S. Surrogate Army during the Secret War in Laos of the Vietnam War era.
Many elected officials seem to have understood the sacrifice made by the Hmong, who fought in northern Laos in the mountainous Military Region 2. Nevertheless, it is believed that the Hmong were the only irregular forces that fought, were specially requested by several U.S. Presidents, and under the command of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). However, this is misinformation as many Lao ethnicities were also a major part in the Secret War in Laos.
In the late 1960s, among the strength-wise SGUs (comparable to regulars) one Mien/Khmu SGU battalion, two Lao SGU battalions in Nam Yu, and three Lao SGU battalions in Luang Prabang were defending the Military Region MR1 in northwestern Laos. There were no Hmong army in Laos. As a matter of fact, there were 24 inadequate battalions because they were unable to recruit the replacements for Hmong/Khmu/Lao SGU battalions in MR2 in northern Laos. There were also 18 Lao Loum/Lao Theung SGU battalions in southern Laos in MR3, and 12 Lao Loum/Lao Theung SGU battalions in southern Laos in MR4. Both these MRs were where the infamous Ho Chi Minh Trail was located. Moreover, there were 20 Thai volunteer battalions in MR2 to help reinforce the Hmong. The Thai volunteers were also in MR4.
The Central Intelligence Agency Center for the Study of Intelligence held a seminar discussing U.S. Intelligence Activity in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s and broadcast on C-SPAN on 20 April 1996. The C-SPAN video may be found here:
Mr. Hugh B Tovar, CIA Chief of Station in Vientiane, can testify which irregular units had fought to support of the U.S. President’s policies for the Secret War in Laos. Please scroll forward in the video forward to approximately 1:57:23 where Mr. Tovar describes the makeup of the Lao irregulars and identifies irregulars:
“We had irregular forces in MR1, 3 and 4 who were not Hmong, who were low-land Lao, who were ethnic Kha, who were - you name it - all over the place, the hill tribes you never heard of and low-land tribes, and the best soldiers in Laos during my time were not Hmong, (I wouldn’t say this to Vang Pao,) but I mean they were the low-land Lao from Savannakhet - I think, Jim, ( referring to Lt Gen.Trefry ) you can bear me out on that.” They were tough little guys who took their training, and they fought the Vietnamese to certain instances to a standstill—so they didn’t all have two left feet—I mean militarily. I was proud leader of Savannakhet’s GM33”.
In addition, retired USMC Colonel and CIA special Operations Case Officer Donald V. Courtney in a letter dated June 20, 2013, made this statement regarding my role during the Secret War:
“Khao Insixiengmay is my friend and former colleague who served in the Special Guerrilla Unit, SGU program. Initially, as a captain in the regular Lao army (FAR), he served as a sort of case officer surrogate: an interpreter, an operation assistant, an extra brain and pair of eyes and pair of hands, and often, in fact, an advisor to the advisors. With time and additional experience and with advanced formal training, he rose to the rank of SGU Lieutenant Colonel and to successful command of a four battalion Group Mobile (GM).
Throughout the five years or so that I knew Khao, he was a gentleman of integrity, and physical and moral courage. He was honest, candid and outspoken, and clung tenaciously to his viewpoint when he was in the right. He was an able tactician and excellent leader. His dedication and dependability were without equal in the SGU organization. And as mentioned above, he was a good and valued friend.”
In late 1969 to early 1971, I worked closely with Mr. Courtney and flew with him with small Air America (Porter) to get information about the activity of MR3 SGU. Later on during one evening, we flew to drop something at the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It was very dangerous because the enemy fired the anti-aircraft on our airplane.
Mr. Eli Chavez a CIA case officer in MR3 and a CIA recipient of the CIA’s Inteligence Star of Valor has recommended Khao’s work to other LinkedIn users:
“Khao was part of a US Government Surrogate Army which helped me and the United States Government. Khao is a Hero who fought in many battles throughout the Kingdom of Laos. I had command of Guerrilla Force GM30 during the CIA Secret War in Laos. GM30’s mission was to detain 2 NVA Divisions in the Kingdom of Laos while the US Government with American G.I.’s was tactically removed from South Vietnam. The mission saved hundreds of American G.I.’s from being killed and/or wounded. in South Vietnam. Col. Khao and his command are my heroes. I would follow him in Combat or to Hell and Back. “Mr. Eli was the commander of GM30, Retired DEA Special Agent, Former CIA Case Officer and Para Military Case Officer, and lastly US Special Forces and 82nd Airborne Paratroopers.”
Furthermore, Mr. Eli Chavez has indicated his continued support for the Lao veterans in a letter to Khao Insixiengmay:
“I will do everything to help the low-land Lao. They fought, trained and I will gladly help them. GM 30 beat the NVA on Skyline Ridge because Col. Chan and I stood together and fought as a team. The Low Land Lao (GM30) beat the NVA on top of Skyline Ridge (Military Region 2 North of Long Tieng). GM30 including myself was involved in hand-to-hand combat at Long Tieng.” Both Mr. Eli Chavez and Col. Chan were wounded at Skyline Ridge’s battle.
From a letter dated September 16, 2012, Mr. Eli Chavez said this about the Battle of Skyline Ridge (located a couple of kilometers north of Long Tieng):
“During the Vietnam War, one of the most significant battles took place in the Kingdom of Laos and most Americans to include both houses of Congress never heard of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Secret War in Laos. During the Battle of Skyline Ridge in 1971, I had the privilege and honor to Command of GM-30, a four Battalion ‘Guerrilla Force’ of low-land Lao, who were trained, logistically supported and lead by me. All Guerrilla Forces were paid by the CIA through me and if they were wounded and/or killed in action the US Government provided them with the best medical care possible to include death benefits were provided to the Guerrilla family members.
GM30’s total Guerrilla Force TOE totaled 1200 hardened low-land Lao combat veterans. As we prepared to attack Skyline Ridge the NVA bombarded our positions with their130 mm Artillery from the Plain of Jars. GM30 and I were targeted by the NVA and concentrated their 130 mm Artillery at our positions at the Base of Skyline Ridge with more than 50 rounds. Col. Chan and I were in the same B-52 crater when I order BG 302 and BG 313 moved to attack helicopter pad Charlie Whiskey which was our first objective. As Battalion’s 302 and 313 moved towards Charlie Whiskey, Battalion 302 and 313 reported that they had 40 men killed and wounded within a five-minute period. BG302 reported they had eight guerrillas killed in action and many wounded. I moved my command post closer to Charlie Whiskey and occupied another B-52 crater. I requested airstrikes from the Ravens. The U.S. Air Force using F-4’s bombarded Charlie Whiskey with 500 and 1000 pound bombs. Col. Chan GM30 commander moved GM30 toward Charlie Whiskey and we prepared to attack the NVA at 6:00 a.m. next day.
At 6:00 a.m., I gave Col. Chan the order to attack Charlie Whiskey. The Ravens had several F-4’s and Lao Air Force ready to strike. The F-4’s struck hardened bunkers first and low-land Lao Air Force remained on station and in communication with Col. Chan and I. After the F-4’s departed the area, GM30 and I attacked Charlie Whiskey and the closer GM30 approached Charlie Whiskey we encountered a vicious and strong NVA resistance. The NVA were determined to keep GM30 and I from retaking Skyline Ridge. During the attack we engaged the NVA in hand-to-hand combat and began to find a weak NVA battle line. Col. Chan thanks me for being with them during the attack. On the third day GM30 attacked Charlie Alpha and GM30 in a heroic effort pushed the NVA off Charlie Whiskey towards Charlie Alpha. That night the NVA counterattacked GM30 and I at Charlie Alpha and I ordered GM30 to counterattack at daylight and the counterattack worked and GM30 pushed towards Charlie Alpha. GM30 and the NVA experience hand to hand combat and many GM30 and the NVA were killed and wounded. On the next day the NVA began to retreat off the Skyline Ridge. A Guerrilla unit from MR1 attacked Charlie Tango without any resistance and they occupied Charlie Tango. After a week of intense combat, GM30 lost nine hundred guerrillas killed, wounded and missing in actions. GM30 low-land Lao Guerrilla Force was replaced by General Vang Pao’s tribal forces. GM30 and I returned to Whiskey 3 in Savannakhet with our heads held high because GM30 and I defeated two NVA regiments on Skyline Ridge.
As I think back to the Battle of Skyline Ridge, which was killing field, I think about GM30 as an American Fighting Force which defeated the NVA in the Battle of Skyline Ridge. It is time for the United States Government to recognize all Guerrilla Forces who fought in combat and sacrificed all for our country. GM30 efforts in the CIA Secret War in Laos played a major in saving hundreds of Americans G.I.’s from being killed or wounded in Vietnam.
I am convinced that all low-land Lao ‘Guerrilla’ be awarded US Veteran Administration privileges for their heroic service to the U.S. Government during the Secret War in Laos. GM30 and other low-land Lao received minimum coverage in the United States of America because the Secret War in Laos was a Secret. The Battle of Skyline Ridge was an important battle and hopefully it will appear in American history books in the future.
For my effort in the Kingdom of Laos, I was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor by DCI William Colby in 1975”.
You can learn more about the 1971-1972 Battle of Skyline Ridge by Ph. D. William M. Leary and Professor E. Merton of History (Emeritus) at the University of Georgia. Between 1971 and 1972, one of the great battles of the Vietnam War took place in northern Laos. This was when over twenty battalions of the NVA assaulted positions held by 10,000 Lao, Thai, and Hmong defenders. However, very few people have heard of the Battle of Skyline Ridge as press coverage of the engagement was slight and public interest was minimal. Excerpt from page 11, paragraph 5 states the following regarding the Battle of Skyline Ridge:
“The CIA brought in Thai reinforcement, together with some 1,200 units of irregular troops from southern Laos, considered as the government’s elite force. By late January, the CIA-led Lao troops, in bitter-often hand-to-hand fighting, had retaken Skyline from the North Vietnamese, at a cost of one-third to one-half of the effective strength”.
Bangkok Post published an article on Friday January 21, 1972 with the headline ‘Skyline Ridge-An Awful Piece of Real Estate’. It was hand to hand fighting most of the way, Col. Chan Nosavan GM30 commander stated:
“GM30 was battling the North Vietnamese soldiers fought hard for every foot of ground they gave up”.
On March 1972, under the command of Colonel Vatsana and direction of CIA case officers Mr. Larry and Mr. Ott Puton, teamed up Group Mobiles GM31 and GM33 to recapture the Plain of Jars (PDJ) in MR2. At that time, Capt. Khao Insixiengmay was GM33 deputy commander. There was a total of 8 GMs that were supposed to retake the PDJ. The offensive elements consisted of 2 GMs of MR3, 1 GM of MR4, 1 GM of MR1 and 4 GM of MR2. After 10 days of advancement, all 8 GM had to retreat due to the enemy’s preparations prior to it.
With a total of 251 men of GM33, I was ordered by the CIA (Mr. Hugh Tover, Mr. Ott Putton, Mr. Larry), General Vang Pao, the Lao Army commander General Ouane Rattikoune, and General Soutchay Vonsavanh, to go back to the Plain of Jars. I still remember what Gen. Vang Pao asked me:
“Young brother, can you go back to the PDJ and try to harass the NVA?”
I replied to him:
Khao Insixiengmay stayed behind the NVA for a month doing the Search and Destroy and the Hide and Destroy. The unit inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy. In 2010, I met Gen. Vang Pao in Minnesota with Col. Bill Lair and Chao Ophat Na Champassack to visit the Lao and Hmong communities. Gen. Vang Pao still remembers the battle my unit did.
A letter from John Hurd, a CIA Case Officer in Laos for two years from 1970 to 1972, who was assigned to MR3, worked with Road Watch and River line teams for about six months on the Ho Chi Minh Trail had this to say:
“In January of 1971, I was assigned to GM31, a group of Mobile of four battalions. This GM was a mobile unit that operated from the Cambodian border MR4 to the northern Plain des Jars in MR2
In over a two-year period, GM31 was involved in six majors’ operations that lasted from two to five months each. On one of those operations, GM31 seized the town of Saravane on the western side of Ho Chi Minh Trail. This disrupted enemy communications and supply for some time. In the fall of 1971, GM 31 retook Hill 1978 which was northeast of Long Chieng (Long Tieng) and stopped the enemy offensive for the whole year. In early 1972, the only unit that was deployed between Long Chien and an undetermined enemy was GM31. Four battalions defended a 600-meter line for a month at which time they had to withdraw due to casualties.
Throughout my entire time with GM31 the officers and men of GM31 performed as well as any military unit under similar circumstances. The unit was blessed with great leadership by commanders such as Sewat, who was killed at Sam Thong, Khao, who was constantly led from the front, Chommany, who never refused a mission and a young Lieutenant, whose name was Tui.
As time marches on, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Laos and the men that I was fortunate enough to serve with GM31. We might not win the war, but the Pathet Laos and North Vietnamese knew that we have been there, and I am sure they remember us as a unit that gave them their best.
I apologize that I may not have all my facts right and I also apologize to the men that I have failed to mention. You are all honorable soldiers that did your duty, the men are but a few who served admirable and can always look with pride at their service.”
James J. Morrison, author of “Shadow War in Laos,” wrote this in a letter dated June 22, 1991:
“I first met (then Captain) Khao Insixiengmay while we were attending the nine-month long Infantry Officer Advanced Course at the U.S. Army Infantry School, Ft. Benning, Georgia. He was among a group of 4 captains from the Royal Lao Army who were in attendance. Khao and I were in one of the twenty-four-man student groups, thereby quickly becoming close while working daily on a personal basis. Khao had already experienced nine years of combat at this point fighting communist forces in his country. He had twice been seriously wounded and been a prisoner-of-war for three months before managing to escape. His personality could be categorized as open, honest and relaxed while always exuberant for the task at hand.
During this time, the U.S. military was succumbing to increasing public and political pressure to disengage from our commitment to the second Indo-China War. Despite this, Captain James K. Bruton and I myself were a handful of officers voluntarily returned to duty in Southeast Asia. We were assigned to the U.S. Special Forces Unit in Thailand, a country neighboring Laos, and were our paths and that of Khao’s would again cross.
The major focus of the Special Forces effort in Thailand was in direct support it the little-known war in Laos. Organizational, training, support and advisory assistance was rendered to both regular and irregular Lao Army formations along with the development of Thai volunteers who were introduced into Laos to bolster a precarious military situation.
I was appointed overall chief of operations and training for the consolidated project. This gave me detailed knowledge and information pertaining to personalities, training programs, unit capabilities, deployments and combat effectiveness, encompassing the whole Laotian conflict. Additionally, Captain Bruton was given command of a detachment tasked with training and advisory duties and forward positioned in June 1972, at the regional military training center in Champassak, Laos near the principal city of Southern Laos, Pakse.
Upon completion of the Advanced Course and return to his hometown of Savannakhet, in January 1972, Khao resumed his duties as an employee of the U.S. Government when assigned as deputy commander/executive officer of Groupe Mobile 33 (GM-33 comparable in size and structure to a 1,400-man light infantry regiment). He had been working directly for the U.S. since 1968, when he joined the then named Savannakhet Special Guerrilla Unit Program.
Khao was promoted to major and received full command of GM33 in March 1972. He proceeded to reorganize and retrain the unit until July when they were trusted into action during the retaking of Khong Sedone from the NVA. Khong Sedone was a large population center in southern Laos and after nearly three months of combat GM33, along with a sister regiment GM32, reclaiming the town while destroying nearly half of the NVA 39th Regiment and a significant part the NVA 19th Regiment-including its commander. GM33 also captured 17 NVA soldiers. The defeat of the 39th and the 19th regiments allowed the Royal Lao government to strength its position to negotiate with the Pathet Lao (the Lao communist). During this operation Gen. John Vessey (Former Chairman Joint Chief of Staffs) and Gen. Soutchay Vongsavanh, (former MR4 commander) observed GM33 in action. At that time Gen, John Vessey was Chief MAAG, Laos) Following the battle, Khao and Bruton had an extended reunion in Pakse, where GM33 had arrived prior to returning to their base near Savannakhet.
The battle of Khong Sedone illustrates the combat effectiveness of indigenous units that are well-trained, and well-led. Based on these exceptional performances, GM33 was personally chosen in October 1972 by Gen. Soutchay Vongsavanh, commander of forces in southern Laos, to conduct a helicopter assault into Ban Lao Ngam, a village at the geographic center of terrain long held by the enemy and used as a major logistical support hub. Government units had not re-entered the era in forces since February 1968. Shortly following insertion, the GM destroyed 5 and crippled 3 enemy tanks. This was accomplished through an ingenious ambush, by Khao, using a combination of land mines and both direct and remotely fired anti-tank weapons. This action represented the single most successfully Lao operation against enemy armor during the entire war. Armed with the element of surprise, the GM inflicted heavy casualties on the NVA although it was attacked repeatedly by superior enemy forces from all directions. An extensive number of captured weapons and ammunitions depots were seized along with fully loaded trucks in convoy and complete anti-aircraft gun complex.
Field reports returning from their U.S. advisor to project headquarters in Thailand were singularly positive in assessing the morale and tenacity displayed by the ‘King Cobra’ unit, which was both Khao’s code name and the official unit emblem adopted by GM33. The senior U.S. Government advisor to the region had correctly connected the GM ‘s pre-eminent success with the commander’s dynamism and personal style of leadership.
Following events at Ban Lao Ngam, GM33 was to spearhead the assault to retake Paksong, a political important agricultural district town in the center of the strategic Boloven Plateau. The recapture of Paksong was to be one of two nationally directed, major government advances to seize and hold lost area before the cessation of hostilities which had by them been formulated to take effect on February 22, 1973. This battle commenced in mid-January and saw eleven days of incessant action before the town was taken. GM 33 sustained heavy casualties but held this objective right until the cease-fire date. On that day, fully aware that the U.S. air support would be withdrawn by mid-morning, an NVA regiment attacked Paksong with massive artillery and armor support. Although firmly dug-in, the GM had taken over 100 casualties within six hours on intense onslaught and had to withdraw at 12:30 p.m. to avert certain destruction. These casualties were in addition to the estimated 650 previous losses inflicted on the GM over their four months sojourn in southern Laos. Khao brought GM home to Savannakhet at about half strength. He had developed and proven to be the national prime expeditionary forces in Laos, a fact that was corroborated at the national level and by the king of Laos. The GM went on to halt numerous enemy-ceasefire violations within their home military region during the remainder of 1973.”
James K. Bruton, Jr, a retired Army Officer (Lieutenant Colonel, Special Forces) now living in Washington, DC., had this to say in a letter dated October 10, 2020:
“I want to attest to my 1972 interaction with then Major Khao Insixiengmay of the Royal Lao Army, then executive officer of an irregular regiment GM33. At that time, I was assigned to a Special Battalion in Thailand. For six months I commanded one of two operational detachments (‘A-Team’) covertly dispatched to Laos to help upgrade the quality of selected Lao army regiments, I had known Khao from 1971 as one of the 15 allied officers he was a fellow classmate attending Ft. Benning’s Infantry Officer Advanced Course.
After graduating from the course in December, I flew to a new Special Forces assignment to Thailand, and Khao retuned to Laos where he was assigned to GM33, one of the irregular units funded and directed by the Central Intelligence Agency. The mission of the irregular was to conduct operations against the North Vietnamese Army who were using eastern Laos, particularly the Ho Chi Minh trail, as a logistics base and transport network to support their war against the South Vietnamese and its allies mainly the US.
Khao’s unit had been re-training and to re-equipping following a victorious battle over a reinforced North Vietnamese regiment at a population center, Khong Sedone sat on a national highway connecting Pakse in the south to Savannakhet in central Laos. At Khong Sedone and other engagements Khao’s regiment had encountered North Vietnamese tanks. He requested that his anti-tank crews receive special training with more advanced weaponry. The CIA requested that members of my team provide such training. I met with Khao at Pakse to coordinate training. In early October about four men from my team were flown to a CIA site (called PS-18) northwest of Pakse, one used for training irregulars.
As I recall, the training lasted between one and two weeks. Upon return from their mission, my men complimented the attentiveness of the Lao soldiers. Their training got put to good use. GM33 received orders October 18 to conduct an airmobile assault on Ban Lao Ngam, a major North Vietnamese transshipment point east-southeast of Khong Sedone. GM33 enters the site unopposed. A few days after insertion, the GM destroyed five enemy tanks, damaged three, and captured a large quantity of enemy weapons, ammunition, and trucks. This was the single most successful Lao operation against armor in the entire war”.
Mr. Thomas Briggs wrote to Mr. Kelly R, the support of Veterans of Foreign Wars, in favor of benefits for Lao veterans of the Vietnam War who now live in the United States as naturalized citizens or resident aliens:
“I hope to answer for you those questions: who I am, and why I support the Lao veterans; what should our Americans and the U.S. government recognize and support the surviving Lao veterans; what did the Lao veterans do to merit support; what do the Lao veterans want and why it is important to them Lao veterans to receive this support?
I am a U.S. Army veteran having served on active duty from 1965 to 1968 including one year at the Republic of Vietnam. I also served 26 years at the Central Intelligence Agency. (CIA), two of those years as a special operations advisor to Lao irregular fighting in southern Laos as surrogates for American forces.
Many U.S. military personnel and CIA officers who have worked with foreign allies have been very disappointed when hostilities end and the U.S. government walks away and effectively abandons or ignore these allies. There have been several examples of this to include Montagnard, Filipinos, Burmese, and Tibetans, but none more egregious than that of the Lao, Lao Theung and Hmong. It is impossible for me, knowing firsthand what our Lao allies did for us, to now ignore them and not try to gain the recognition their sacrifice on our behalf. There is no honor or loyalty that walking away for those who fought in combat on our behalf.
We as American veterans, owe a great debt of honor to our fellow brothers in combat: to assist in any way we can to gain recognition for their blood they shed on behalf of the U.S. government; for all the American lives to keep the north Vietnamese Army in Laos, fighting the Lao instead of going to South Vietnam to fight and kill us. We should strive to support the Lao by helping them receive this small benefit”.
According to the Indochina Monographs entitled ‘The Royal Lao Army and U.S. Advice and Support’ written by Gen. Oudone Sananikone page 138: “MR3 SGU were often called upon to reinforce Region 2. Whenever the NVA launched a big campaign, Gen. Vang Pao would call for reinforcement and Region 3 had invariably responded. The reciprocation (MR2 going to rescue neighboring regions) seldom happened: that means that it was rare that any of Gen. Vang Pao units were sent to fight outside of MR2, particularly the Ho Chi Minh Trail in MR3 and 4 as claimed by the Hmong Studies and politicians, but they took heavy casualties. The SGUs of Region 2 and Region 3 complemented each other very well and fought courageously side-by-side in MR2. The young Lao commanders, many of them transferred from the regular National Lao Army (NLA), had exhibited excellent leadership and some earned early promotions for their performances in combat.
Besides reinforcing in region 2, the principal mission of region 3 was to operate along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This mission also involved them in heavy combat with the NVA: it was frequently necessary to call B-52 support to rescue them.
The SGU of MR4 in southern Laos were also made up mostly of Lao, many of them transferred from the NLA. Initially the cadre had been provided by the CIA from men recruited and trained in Thailand, but these Thai leaders were later replaced with native Lao officers. From their bases on the Bolovens Plateau, the principal missions of 4 SGU were to intercept the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This, as in Region3, involved them in heavy combat with the NVA which from 1970 on, exerted a great effort to destroy the SGUs and their bases on the Bolovens Plateau”.
According to the book written by General Soutchay Vongsavanh former MR4 commander and retired staff after 32 years of working with DOD page 83:
“To further complicate the problems of the NVA at Paksong and Khong Sedone, GM33 was successfully air-landed into the Lao Ngam area and began search and destroy operations. Shortly after it was inserted, it succeeded in destroying five and damaging another three tanks, putting a severe dent in the armor threat in MR4. These tanks were destroyed in an ingeniously devised ambushes set by the GM commander using antitank, mines, 3.5-inch rocket launchers and Light Antitank Weapons (LAW). This victory over the communists represented the single most successful Lao operation against armor in the entire war”.
Furthermore, on page 102, Gen. Soutchay said:
“The operation in 1971 had to be considered a major accomplishment. Credit must go to MR3 GM’s, particularly GM32 and 33 for their efforts in MR4.”
On page 107, in February 1971:
“Reacting to South Vietnamese military operations in southern Laos, some 80% of the North Vietnamese forces in Laos were deployed in the Royal Government’s MR3 and 4 via Ho Chi Minh Trail (not in Vang Pao MR2). These enemy NVA forces included infantry battalions. Transport, engineer, communication units, anti-aircraft battery and artillery units, and advisors to the Pathet Laos”.
The Military Regions in Laos. Laos was divided into five Military Regions:
Military Region I at Lunag Prabang was dominated by the Royal Family and the former commander in Chief of the Royal Lao Army, General Ouane Ratthikul. The region commander was Brigadier General Tiao Sayavong, a half-brother of the King. The region was in northwest Laos and covered four provinces: Phong Saly, Houa Khong, Sayaboury and Luang Prabang.
Military Region II, in the northeastern section of Laos, was under Major General Vang Pao, the Hmong guerrilla war soldiers of Laos. It covered two provinces: Houa Phan (Samneua), and Xieng Khouang. The headquarters was at Long Cheng, northwest of the Plain of Jars.
Military Region III in central Laos was headquartered at Savannakhet and covered two provinces: Khammouane (Thakhek) and Savannakhet. This region was commanded by General Bounpone and later by Brigadier Nouphet Daoheuang, in 1971. The real power in this region was the Insixiengmay family led by Minister Leuam Insixiengmay, Vice Premier and Minister of Education. His wife is the elder sister of Mom Bouaphan who is the wife of Chao Boun Oum Na Champassak.
Military Region IV, with headquarters at Pakse. Included six provinces of southern Laos. Saravane, Attopeu, Champassak, Sedone, and Sithandone (Khong Island). It was dominated by the Na Champassak family led by Prince Boun Oum Na Champassak. The commander of Military Region IV was Major General Phasouk S. Rassaphak, a member of the Champassak family. He commanded this area for almost a decade and a half until finally replaced by the Author, Brigadier General Soutchay Vongsavanh in July 1971.
Military Region V contained Borikhan and Vientiane Provinces. It headquarters was located at Chinaimo Army Camp and was led by Major General Kouprasith Abhay until he was replaced by Brigadier General Thonglith Chokbengboun in July 1971.
More about the Other SGUs During the battle of Kou Kiet in 1969, one SGU Blue battalion of MR3 and one SGU battalion from MR4 were the element to cut the reinforcement and the retreat of the NVA. Two Airborne battalions, 101st led by Maj. Touane Boudhara, and 103rd led by Major Bounthavy Phouysangniem, were the main offensive elements. It was the first time MR2 defeated the NVA and captured lots of tanks and 130 mm Artillery guns. This outstanding result was accomplished by one SGU battalion of MR3, one SGU battalion of MR4 and two Airborne battalions from MR3. Both Major Touane and major Bounthavy joined MR3 SGU in 1971.
At that battle, Captain Khao Insixiengmay was an EO of SGU Blue Battalion. He was also assigned to lead one Hmong Battalion on MR2 that was commanded by Major Cher Pao Moua.
The war against the communist aggression in the Kingdom of Laos cost more than 50,000 Lao of all ethnicities, 600 US service men, 5,000 South Vietnamese troops, and 2,500 Thai volunteers.
We request U.S. Congress to acknowledge that you owe a great debt of honor to Lao freedom fighters who assisted in fighting the communists in any way you can to gain recognition for the lives we sacrificed, the blood and the tears we shed on behalf of the U.S. government Army in Laos, fighting the Lao instead of going to South Vietnam to fight the U.S. forces. We propose you to strive to support the Lao of all ethnicities by helping them receive the recognition and the right to be buried at the national cemeteries.
On August 6, 1968, the first CIA killed in Action in Laos by enemy gunfire LTC. Wayne McNuilty was standing close to Khao when he got off the helicopter that was supplying rice to Khao’s battalion in Military Region (MR) 3, the central part of Laos.
On September 26, 1972, CIA Raymond Seaborg of SGU GM15, Military Region 1 was killed in MR2. The GM commander SGU Colonel Ben Bounleuang Inthisan was seriously wounded while trying to bring the body of CIA Raymond Seaborg from the field.
Colonel Khai Kittavong SGU GM32 commander, Military Region 3, killed along with more than 500 men of his unit Killed/wounded on 26 October 1972 in MR.
When Congress passed Public Law 115-141 in 2018, and amended Title 38 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section 2402 to add a new category of persons eligible for interment in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries, why did Congress only recognize one group to give them an honorable burial? The Hmong contribution to the American cause was valuable and deserving of such recognition. However, ignoring all the rest of us whose numbers in the CIA’s Special Guerrilla Units were substantially greater than the Hmong is unconstitutional and unjust. Non-Hmong SGU veterans saw the passage of Public Law 115-141 as a slight to every non-Hmong irregular veteran of the war. Such ignorance of this truth brings dishonor to us and on those of you that would never do such a thing were the truth known to you.
PL 115-141 fails to recognize the extent of all covert activities conducted in the geographic area known as Southeast Asia during the war fought there from 1945 to 1975 to include covert combat in the Republic of Vietnam, the Kingdom of Laos, and the Khmer Republic and in North Vietnam.
PL 115-141 fails to properly identify all indigenous persons who fought clandestinely on behalf of the United States government in Southeast Asia.
PL 115-141 fails to recognize that covert actions in Southeast Asia were conducted in accordance with the orders of several consecutive Presidents of the United States.
PL 115-141 fails to recognize that the Supreme Commander of all United States Armed Forces is the President of the United States and that he commanded not only the United States armed forces in Southeast Asia but also those armed combatants who fought under the guidance of American Ambassadors and officers of the Central Intelligence Agency.
PL 115-141 limits recognition to those who immigrated into the United States under one specific law when all Asian indigenous covert combatants who immigrated legally into the United States ought to be recognized if the immigration was legal; and after legal immigration they became citizens of the United States.
PL 115-141 does not specify the requirements for documenting service as a veteran of the covert actions directed by the President of the United States directly in the current public law.
We are elderly, we are failing, and we are suffering from our wounds. We are suffering PTSD from watching our comrades die in battle, from festering in prisoner of war camps, from losing our native land and from being dishonored. We don’t have much time. Many of my friends who passed recently, such as Colonel Nookhoon Inthisan who was SGU GM43 Commander of MR4, passed away two years ago had no eligibility to be buried at the national cemetery. Many of Lao veterans in MN and other states were also not allowed to be buried too. We feel we are forgotten and abandoned.Many of the fighters passed recently without being recognized and after cremation, the remains were thrown into the stream so their souls can select where they want to stay.
Col, Khao Insixiengmay is an example of the injustice of PL 115-141 as after all his sacrifices on behalf of his now adopted country, the United States. When he applied for pre-burial approval, his application was rejected because his name is not in the official records and archives of Hmong fighters. While he is a naturalized citizen of the U.S., he was not naturalized pursuant to the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000.
Col. Khao Insixiengmay had this to say regarding this situation:
“Yet, I fought in Laos, on behalf of the U.S. government from 1961 to 1974, I was wounded twice and captured and ill-treated in prisoner of war camps and in so-called ‘reeducation’ camps, after the U.S. government signed a treaty and abandoned us, until I was able to escape Laos, make my way to the U.S., and become a naturalized American citizen in 1997.
In the face of my service and sacrifices, you must imagine how hurt and dishonored I felt to be told I am not deserving of an honorable burial in an American National Cemetery.
Your Asian-American in the US need you to turn your attention, if only for a moment, to recognize our predicament, produce a just remedy, and to add the eligibility of internment at the national cemeteries to Lao of all ethnicities.
There are about 5,000 Lao veterans in the U.S. of all ethnicities hoping you help them gain burial eligibility at the national cemetery, and other VA benefits. Thanking us for our service means nothing without the words “never forget”. Please don’t forget us. Our time is dwindling away”.
Certain politicians have tried to pass laws in their favor in the past, but those laws were flawed in a way that resulted in none of these veterans being truly recognized for their service to the United States. No law has ever recognized how much clandestine combat was fought throughout Southeast Asia by Asian allies. Those laws almost always recognized some Asians but not others. Some laws put limits on when they immigrated into the U.S. or when they became citizens and under which law. These laws have not even recognized whether they were directed by U.S. Special Forces or by the special operations officers of the Central Intelligence Agency.
We are puzzled that House Resolution introduced by Rep. Jim Costa in August of 2019 (as well as other previous bills) only mentions “The Secretary,” which we presume to be the VA Secretary, as the person to determine which SGU personnel had served honorably with Special Guerrilla Unit or irregular Forces operating from a base in Laos in support of the Armed Forces of the United States at any time during the period beginning February 28, 1961, and ending May 7, 1975. There is no mention of a requirement that this Secretary consults with the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency to determine eligibility sine now the veil of secretary has been lifted from the United States Government in Laos. There is no basis that any personnel of the Department of Defense or any other government agency had any direct involvement with Special Guerrilla Unit activity in Laos. Nevertheless, the CIA field officers, and the MR commanders did, and they should be involved in the immigration, VA, burial identification process.
Here is an official order by Mr. Xai Paul Vang dated April 24, 2012, the President of the SGU veterans:
“On the 12 of April 2012, the Executive Director Xang Vang and Xai Paul Vang went to California to meet with Mr. Congressman Jim Costa who sponsors the Bill H.R. 3192 for our SGU veterans. When I met Jim Costa at this time, he informed me the co-sponsorship of the Bill H.R. 3192 had increased to 26 people already. And the Bill will be passed at the end of 2012”.
Regarding to the Lao veterans, Jim Costa stated that he would create an understanding for the Lao veterans war, because the U.S. Government veterans had no affiliation with the Lao veterans during the war. It seems that only the Hmong veterans will receive Veterans Administration benefits.
Please read Doctor Yang Dao’s letter addresses to Senator Orin Hatch Chair U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, dated May 16, 2000:
“Dear Senator Hatch, I am writing to show my support to the HR371 and S890 related to the naturalization of aliens who served with special guerrilla unit or irregular forces in Laos. I strongly believe that those who fought side by side with the United of America during the Vietnam War should be rewarded for their sacrifices they had endured for the cause of Freedom and democracy in Southeast Asia and the world.
I am a Hmong from Laos. I received my Ph. D. in social science from the Sorbonne University of Paris, France, in 1972. From 1972 to 1975, I served the Royal Lao Government successively as a Director of Human Resource Planning Department in the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, and as a member of the National Political Council of Coalition (Laotian Congress) during the Coalition Government in Laos. Like hundreds of thousands of my countrymen, I came to know the road of exile. After the take over of my country by the communists Pathet Lao in May 1975. I am now a U.S. citizen living in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. After serving the University of Minnesota, Hamline University and Metropolitan University for more than one decade, I currently work as an Assistant Director of the Communication and Public Information in the Saint Paul Public School.
I urge you to use your influence to make the H.R. 371 and S890 become laws which will ease the process of citizenship for our Laotian veterans by eliminating the English language which constitutes a major obstacle toward their process of becoming U.S. citizen. (Khao Insixiengmay taught the citizenship class for the Lao community and was a Supreme Court interpreter from 1997 to 2012).However, I would like to remind you that in my terminology of “Laotian”, I would include Hmong, Lao, Khmu, Mien, Lue, Thai-Dam, Iko and other Laotian ethnic groups who have fought with special guerrilla units or irregular forces in Laos. Those irregulars forced were present in Military Region I, Military Region II, Military Region III and Military Region IV. To determine who is eligible for the process of naturalization, I would propose that an independent commission be established to verify the identity of these Laotian veterans. This commission should be composed of representatives from the C.I.A. the State Department, the Immigration and Naturalization Services, and different, and different group of Lao, Hmong, Khmu, Mien, Lue, Thai-Dam and Iko veterans in the United States. Only a single group of Laotian veterans to certify the citizenship statue would jeopardize the process of naturalization by providing corruption, fraud, distortion and injustice. Which will be contribute to greater division among the veterans of all Laotian ethnic groups.
As a former member of the Laotian National Political Council, I urge you to do what ever in your power to make the process naturalization the most equitable for all the Laotian veterans who are called to live in good spirit and relationship among themselves and the community at large. I have good connection s with all of these Laotian ethnic groups in the United States.
With great respect, Yang Dao, Ph. D”.
Here is an additional letter from Dr. Yang Dao to Susan dated June 28, 2997:
“Dear Susan, I read the CRS Report for congress, Order Code RS20931, Updated February 5, 2007. On page CRS-6, the report wrote that “During the Vietnam War, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) trained and armed an estimated 60,000 Hmong guerrilla to fight the Vietcong. The information is incorrect, and I ask you to make some corrections.
I have witnessed and done intensive research on the Secret War in Laos during the Vietnam War. (1960-1975). Therefore, I urge the author of the CRS Report to Congress, Mr. Thomas Lum, a specialist in Asian Affairs to make some correction in the statement about the Hmong involvement in the Secret War of Laos.
First, the CIA has not trained 60,000 Hmong guerrillas to fight the Secret War of Laos (1961-1973). According to my research in Laos, during the Vietnam War, there were 9 battalions of Special Guerrilla Units (trained by the CIA) and 5 battalions of the Royal Lao Army (trained by the French) under the leadership of General Vang Pao, officer of the Royal Lao Army and Commander of the Second Military Region (MR) of the Kingdom of Laos. General Vang Pao was assisted by Brigadier General Tiao Mounivong a Lao prince of Luang Prabang. His chief of was Colonel Kham Hung, a Lao Loum and officer of the Royal Lao Army. Each battalion of Special Guerrilla Units numbered around 600 soldiers made up with 40% Hmong and 60% Lao, Phouan, Khmu, Mien and Thai-Dam. As for 5 battalions of Royal Lao Army, there were about 20% Hmong 80% Lao, Phouan, Thaideng, and Khmu. In brief the Special Guerrilla Units and the Royal Lao Army troops stationed in the 2nd MR numbered around 9,000 soldiers and NOT 60,000 Hmong guerrillas described by the CRS Report for Congress. However, many Hmong villagers organized themselves in auto-defense along with the Lao, Khmu, Mien and Lue in the Second Military Region which included Xieng Khouang and Houa Phanh (Samnueua) provinces, located in Northeastern Laos.
Second, there was No Hmong Army during the Vietnam War. All Special Guerrilla Units fought under the leadership of the Royal Lao Army, represented by Major General Vang Pao and Brigadier Tiao Mounivong respectfully Commander and Deputy Commander of the Second Military Region.
Third, the Special Guerrilla Units and the Royal Lao Army DID NOT FIGHT THE VIETCONG in South Vietnam, but they defended the national sovereignty of the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese troops which the Special Guerrilla Units made up with Lao, Hmong, Khmu and other Laotian ethnic groups fought in Laos during the Secret War.
Please convey my remarks to Mr. Thomas Lum, to whom I ask to make the corrections mentioned above in order to put the CRA Report to Congress in the historic contest. I am attaching my biography for the reference. He can also contact me at 763-533-3556.
Sincerely, Yang Dao, Ph.D”.
In a letter from former 1st Lieutenant John Sayavong Former T-28 pilot of MR2 dated July 8, 2007, addressed to Susan who had filed a CRS report to congress discusses the different ethnic groups involved in the Secret War:
“1st Lieutenant Sayavong is an ethnic Khmu T-28 pilot of the Royal Lao Air Force who served under the command of General Vang Pao. In MR2, the Hmong tribe had more population compared to compare to the other tribes and Khmu was the second after the Hmong. This was only at the 2nd military region at Long Tieng at that time, so you can see that was a small size showing that there was not only the Hmong tribe working and helping the CIA at that time.
Many Americans who did the service in Laos should be able to witness that they were many different tribes joined in each troupe and in each battalion in any branches of services in the 2nd military region. They were not only Hmong fought and helped the CIA as per say and those American servicemen that I still remember their names are as follows:
Jerry Daniel John Tucker
And they were still many more that I don’t remember, of it was more over 30 years now and some of them may have been deceased.
Besides SGU, which included many tribes helped the CIA fight the enemies during that period. There were still many soldiers from Royal Lao Army Forces worked side by side with the SGU in the 2nd military region and their leader was Brigadier General Tiao Manivong Kindavong and many other high-ranking officers and those high-ranking officers in the rank of Colonel that I remember were as follows:
Col. Khamhoung Pravong Viengkham
Col. Douangta Norasing
And there were some other Lt. Col., and Major which I am not going to mention their names at this time. Now let’s go back to SGU for a moment, there were so many high Hmong ranking officers in the 2nd military region during 1968 to 1975 there were about 25 Colonels all were Hmong and there were about 30 Lt. Colonel and only one out of 30 was Khmu, during the war in Laos. If you were high ranking officer, you were in the back in the safe place, most of the time the first class and low-ranking soldiers were the people at the front line where there was at risk and very dangerous. If you look at the numbers above, who were the most people at the front line where there was at risk at danger? So, you can see there were not many Khmu came to the USA. Based on what I and others have been observed was that they either had no money or no way to flee the country at that time and one other thing was that some of the Khmu soldiers who have been worked side by side with the Hmong soldiers under command of general Vang Pao didn’t want to follow General Vang Pao any more due to un-equal treatment of the General. As I mentioned above, there was no Khmu who was promoted to Colonel and the reason was unknown and those Hmong soldiers who were promoted to high-ranking officers, most of them were promoted by general Vang Pao not the Royal Lao Army commander under the Lao regime government.
So, those Khmu people round up to stay behind in Laos and continue to do slash and burn cultivation in the mountain areas due to unable to afford to buy land of farms that were close to cities or towns where there were no UXO, and they round up to be the most people who are effected by with the unexploded bombs (UXO) that were left over from the secret war or Vietnam war and seems like they were the unlucky people no matter where they were or where they are; USA government didn’t recognize them, regime Royal Lao government didn’t see them and while working side by side with Hmong soldiers (SGU) to help the CIA and to fight the enemy in the second military region, they were received unequal treatment, so please any one, please help them at least clear-up and remove the unexploded ordinance (UXO), so they can have a small piece of land that is safe to work on, to plant some rice and vegetables to feed their children which they were long due deserve to be treated equally as a human being. Please consider.
Respectfully yours John B. Sayavon”.
Larry Zimmerman’s lecture on Washington Post dated September 7, 2016 ‘Tuesday to Military History’ and ‘Veterans Discovery Group’ took place on the same day President Obama was in Laos announcing the $90 million in U.S. Aid to help clean up millions of unexploded bombs the United States dropped nearly 50 years ago. Larry was an aspect of that aspect of that air war. In 1969, he was a 26-year-old Air Force captain stationed at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Airbase in northeast Thailand, where some of the elements of a secret bombing campaign against Laos were overseen. Larry was assigned to Task Force Alpha, an outfit that worked in secrecy at the edge of Thai air base on Operation Igloo White. Nifty little camouflaged spikes called ADSIDs-air-delivered seismic intrusion detectors-were dropped from the airplane and buried themselves in the ground near the trail. Topped with antennae, they picked up the rumble of heavy vehicles. Some had microphones and could relay the sounds of the trucks, the chatter of troops. And when the enemy was detected, the U.S. bombers and gunships came in. It is estimated that 270 million bombs were dropped in Laos. Sometimes, Larry said a closer look was called for and he’d request RF-4C Phantom reconnaissance jets out of Udorn, Thailand. That’s the plane my father flew in the Vietnam War. Most estimates put the number of Laotians killed during the war at 250,000 Laotians. Laos has been called the most-bombed country on Earth.
I myself, Khao Insixiengmay, is a person who requested lots of Air strikes during the war because I was able to communicate with the US Air Forces pilots from 1968 to 1973. For example, on February 20, 1973, I was fortunate to have 75 flights of B- 52 (3 B-52 each flight, each B-52 carried 3 tons of Cluster bomb units) to drop bombs around my position at Paksong, MR4 just 2 days before the cease fire, on February 23, 1973. My GM33 code name was “King Cobra”.
We, the United Royal Lao Armed Forces and Special Guerrilla Units of all ethnicities during the Vietnam War who do not receive sufficient support, gladly join the effort to educate the politicians who listen to our veterans who fought in the war and know of the war in Laos. Lao of all ethnicities believe that one unified law that covers all of us is necessary. We are united to get Title 38 U.S. Code Section 2402 amended by amending Public Law 115-141’s Division J, Title II, Sec. 251, Paragraph (b) (10) as follows:
(10) Any individual-
(i) is a naturalized citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States; and
(ii) who served as a clandestine combatant with a special guerrilla unit, or irregular force, operating from a base in Laos under the guidance of the U.S. Ambassador to Laos and the Central Intelligence Agency in support of the United States foreign policy and the United States military; or
(iii) who of 23 May 1975 is a naturalized citizen or a legal resident of the United States after 23 May 1975; and
(iv) who at the time of the individual’s death resided in the United States; and
(v) who documents his service with a clandestine irregular unit, as described in paragraph (ii) above, in the form of--
a. original documents; or b. an affidavit of the serving person’s superior officer; or c. two affidavits from other individuals who also were serving with such an irregular unit, and who personally knew of the person’s service: or d. other appropriate proof; or
(vi) was the spouse of a person described in paragraph (ii) above on the day which such described person applied for admission to the United States or the day such described person became a naturalized U.S. citizen or a legal resident of the United States.
(b) Effective date. —The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an individual dying on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(c) Deadline. - This Act shall apply to a person only if the person’s application for burial in any open national cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration is submitted not later than 10 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.
On 10 February 2014, Khao Insixiengmay, Southalavong Bountah, James K. Bruton and Thomas Leo Briggs met with Ms. Nancy Dolan, Staff Director House Committee on Veterans Affairs in Room 333, Cannon House Office Building in Washington, DC.
The results of the meeting were very promising for the Lao veterans. The reason for believing this is that Ms. Dolan explained to us about Public Law 106-207. The Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000, which was signed into law by the President of the United States.
There was further discussion with Ms. Dolan concerning a form, developed by the United Royal Lao Armen Forces and Special Guerrilla Units Veterans of the Vietnam War (URLAF & SGU), for the documentation of qualifying service for URLAF & SGU veterans. Ms. Dolan indicated that she thought that the URLAF & SGU form might be considered a better and more valid method of documenting qualified service.
Since we served as surrogates for American soldiers in all the places the U.S. government asked us to fight the communists, Americans did not have to fight in those places. We forced the communists to keep a very large number of their forces in Laos to defend the Ho Chi Minh Trail, and their logistical bases in Cambodia. This kept those enemy forces from going into South Vietnam in greater numbers to fight and kill Americans fighting in South Vietnam. They did this in secret because American presidents wanted their participation kept secret.
It is now more than 48 years later. There is no reason to continue to keep their combat service secret anymore. There is no reason not to recognize the enormous effort and sacrifice they made on behalf of the country they now call home. There is no reason to deny U.S. citizens a small honor they truly believe they deserve.
However, there is reason to pass a true and comprehensive law that is historically correct and honors all those who deserve such honor. No other law but one modifying 38 U.S.C. 2402 as described in this letter should be considered by Congress and this modification should be passed into law as soon as possible because very few of us still alive.
During the Secret War in Laos, the units I lead suffered more than 3,000 killed, wounded and missing in Action. My unit inflicted heavy casualty on the enemy. More than 5,000 NVA were killed and more than 20 NVA were captured. We were able to blow up many tanks, destroy anti-aircraft, trucks loaded with supplies, and ammunition depots. Many important US community leaders want me to get a Purple Heart Medal, but no one can request it for me. I also have letters from former CIA case officers who I worked with during the Secret War in Laos. I visited them in Washington D.C. in 1971 at the house of Mr. Harry Booth with around 20 former CIA case officers.
We strongly urge you to give positive consideration toward the burial eligibility for Lao of all ethnicities who served as surrogates for American soldiers in all the places the U.S. government asked them to fight the communists in Laos. Sacrifices were made on our end so that Americans did not have to fight in those places.
Attached to this letter is additional information to assist you in your deliberations. One of our CIA advisors lives near Washington, D.C. and can make himself available to consult with your staff as you wish.
Khao Insixiengmay President of the United Royal Lao Armed Forces & Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans of the Vietnam War Life US SFA member A-3828 of NC, and life member of US SFA Chapter XXXVIII Former SGU Colonel, Interpreter, Instructor, Operations Assistant to the CIA in MR3 Former SGU Group Mobile 33 Commander
The Coalition of Allied Vietnam War Veterans is a registered 501c3 non profit incorporated in the State of Minnesota