The last of America's army in Vietnam
Whatever happened to the indigenous tribesmen who took America's side during the Vietnam War? I look at what happened in Pajamas Media.
Here are some excerpts:
When Tony Poe, a CIA paramilitary officer leading Hmong guerrillas, ran into a large force of North Vietnamese in northeastern Laos in 1965, he killed a dozen of the enemy in the encounter. Hit in the abdomen and hip, Poe fell back with his tribesmen to an extraction point five miles away.
There, he refused to let the pilot evacuate until 13 injured tribesmen were pulled off the battlefield. The pilot resisted, arguing that they couldn’t take on the extra weight. But Poe threatened to jump if they didn’t go back. The wounded were evacuated safely, though the helicopter motor was ruined. As a result of his actions in this battle, Poe’s stature among the hill tribes soared. “That’s war,” Poe says, matter-of-factly. “If you don’t go back for them, how the hell are you going to ask them to fight for you? You’ve got to take care of your people. That was the only way to get them to fight.”
After the abandonment of South Vietnam, about two million Vietnamese fled the country, half a million of whom eventually found their way to America. Two million Cambodians died from the “re-education” efforts of the communist Khmer Rouge. But while these catastrophes are well known, the genocide in Cambodia even having been made into a Hollywood movie, the tragedy that befell the Hmong was forgotten with the 1960s. Unlike Tony Poe, who believed in keeping faith with peoples who joined America’s cause, the Hmong who stayed behind were forgotten by their “friends”; but they were remembered by their enemies. In the years following the Vietnam War, the Hmong were “hunted like animals.” And they still may be. The Center for Public Policy analysis reported that the Laotian and Vietnamese governments have begun a campaign to wipe out the last holdouts against their regimes.
I wonder if 25 years from today we're going to be discussing the fate of the Iraqi Kurds? Who knows? And in some quarters, who cares?
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