Saturday, April 26, 2008

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?




The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.

40 Comments:

Blogger Long_Bow said...

We did to the Hmong what we do to most allies who are small in number, have a limited usefulness, and could become an embarrassment if their full story were to be told in the MSM..we abandon them.

In this case some got out of Vietnam and live in the US, but most were captured and killed by the NVA.

In the past forty years the only thing worse than having the USA as an ally are the allies the US has..this time around the entire NATO farcical "alliance"

It's for the USA to organized new structures with dependable allies, and to begin what Pat Buchanan and other s have recommended. Create an organization of Democracies to parallel the UN and then as the functions shift to the Democratic Alliance allow the UN to go it's own way without the USA. The UN is an impediment to good world order now anyway.

4/26/2008 06:33:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Long Bow: Create an organization of Democracies to parallel the UN and then as the functions shift to the Democratic Alliance allow the UN to go it's own way without the USA.

How many times have members of the Democratic Party been told by members of the Republican Party and the Constitutional Party that America is not a Democracy but a Constitutional Republic?

4/26/2008 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger F said...

The Hmong weren't exactly ignored during and after our involvement in Vietnam. I was assigned to our embassy in Vientiane when the USG decided to evacuate several tens of thousands from the Plain of Jars, and I went on several of those flights as an observer. (And that was not the only effort to "help" our ally.)

The move did not turn out to be all positive: Vientiane is on a river plain sufficiently lower in elevation to have malarial mosquitoes, the first these people had experienced. Many died of that parasite in the months they lived on the outskirts of Vientiane; many more were mesmerized by the bright lights of town and suffered the fate of rubes in the city. Then those who were relocated to the US suffered additional cultural dislocations, with a high rate of social trauma (gangs are a major problem).

Bottom line is that it's not easy to move from an isolated existence in the mountains to the "outer world". Many of us who knew them thought our government owed them better than we gave, but much of our giving turned out to be a mixed blessing. F

4/26/2008 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Our withdrawal from Vietnam was so precipitous that it did leave allies in the lurch, and many of them died because of it.

However, it seems to me that the bottom line in Iraq - including the Kurds - is that we've been telling them since 2003 now that we will be leaving and they MUST learn how to stand up on their own two feet and do it for themselves.

If countries like Iraq and Vietnam want "peace" and "stability" then they will more than likely have to fight and die for it ... on their own. We can't do it all for them, nor should we.

If the people of these far-away places do not fight for what they're building, then how can they ever feel ownership of it?

Or pride in collective functioning country, as opposed to a bunch of vengeful family tribes.

4/26/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Blogger Dale B said...

We didn't abandon all of them. There are roughly 150,000 Hmong in the US. The largest Hmong community in the US is here in the Twin Cities. Estimates vary between 41,000 and 60,000 here. Most arrived between 1976 and 1985. They initially had a hard time adapting but they are doing fairly well now and it's getting better all the time.

4/26/2008 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Dale B. wrote:

"We didn't abandon all of them. There are roughly 150,000 Hmong in the US. The largest Hmong community in the US is here in the Twin Cities."

Yes, and we are very proud of sponsoring them and helping them adjust to life in MN. There are problems, as you can imagine would result when a tribal culture finds itself teleported, so to speak, to the U.S. The killing of five local hunters by a run-amok Hmong hunter last year in WI was a shock, and made more shocking by local fish-wraps and news shows, which didn't lose any time in fanning the fire to sell a few papers and raise ratings.

Some yahoos vandalized a new Hindu temple last year. That was unfortunate.

The Somalis and other Muslim immigrants are a different issue, as has been evident in the news about the "charter school" that uses public funds for a school that is a religious school in every sense, with a few technicality fig-leaves providing cover. CAIR seems to be providing legal and doctrinal guidance to any factions willing to accept it. This is old news to readers of "Powerline."

All this raises the old question about whether there is any wisdom in bringing to the country people who really don't intend to assimilate.

A local Mexican came to a civic meeting in my town recently and announced that he had just come from a citizenship ceremony. The applause and shouts were long, loud, and not unaccompanied by misty eyes among the hundred or so folks at the meeting, who barely knew him but understood and appreciated his pride and his love of the U.S. Everyone walked out of that meeting a little taller, and a lot more proud of where we live.

4/26/2008 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Rivenshield said...

Ah.... guys? Reality check from my neck of the woods. The CIA, of all organizations you could imagine, suffered a belated conscience-spasm and got tens of thousands of Hmong out in the late 80's and early 90's. A lot of them were settled in Shasta County, in Northern California. I recall wandering down the alley to the local 7-11 and looking over and here's this little gal on the other side of the fence -- long dress, conical hat, baby on her back -- hoeing up her back yard to put in a garden. It seemed only natural to stick a bunch of Vietnamese rednecks with the American variety, and they did okay....

A few old guys couldn't get the idea of 'hunting season' through their heads, and there were some hysterical scenes when the game warden would come out, because they'd come from a society where the cops were just a uniformed mafia. And there was at least one Hmong youth gang running around, like every batch of immigrants produces. Other than that they settled in fine.

And now you see Hmong teenagers all over Redding who wear Levis and baseball caps and drive pickup trucks and say 'Woah' and 'Dude' and 'F*ck yea' just like everybody else. (Yes, in rural CA even the rednecks say 'Dude.') So doggone me if I know what you guys are fussing about re: assimilation, abandoning our allies, blah blah blah... unless it's fretting over the fate of the Hmong who didn't make it out. But you can't save everybody.

4/26/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Alison said...

My limited observation of a small Hmong community in north Alabama when I was living there: Some were coping fairly well, but the kids were often falling into the worst aspects of hiphop culture (dealing dope in middle schools,violence,etc.) Probably assimilating as well as I would if jerked out of my 'hood and dropped on the plain of jars.

4/26/2008 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger noprisoners said...

There is a Hmong community in Lincoln, Nebraska as well.

One night, my wife an I attended a showing at a local art gallery. The band was Hmong and they were playing U.S. rock music. They sang "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, however, they attributed the song to the movie "Ghost" in which Patrick Swayze starred. We had to laugh. Their U.S. experience did not go far enough back to know who the Righteous Brother were.

4/26/2008 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger jafco said...

Teresita
Your comment firmly places you in the category pissant.

If you have something to say, say it. I doubt you do, because the nexus of W's story is the cowardly and dastardly desertion of our Vietnamese allies by the Democratic Party. This evil deed turned at worst a standoff into a catastrophic defeat and death for millions. You should be proud.

4/26/2008 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Unchained Melody has been in an out of the hit parade for decades. It just keeps coming back. Even the Righteous Brothers were a cover version, though that is the version most people consider the classic rendition.

It will probably make the hits again in the future. After one generation forgets it, another rediscovers it.

4/26/2008 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

This Book tells the tale of how the fate of the Hmong was really sealed at a summit much earlier.

4/26/2008 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

A local Mexican came to a civic meeting in my town recently and announced that he had just come from a citizenship ceremony. The applause and shouts were long, loud, and not unaccompanied by misty eyes among the hundred or so folks at the meeting, who barely knew him but understood and appreciated his pride and his love of the U.S.

The people I've known who've become citizens always seem a little stunned and embarrassed that we Americans were making such a big deal out of it. For example, one German guy left work, and came back to flags and balloons and red/white/blue cake with hearty congratulations and "welcome fellow citizen" handshakes.

The Mexican mother of a friend also put off her citizenship application for decades, and when she finally went through with it, wanted absolutely no recognition (although I believe there was a small celebration any way).

Thinking about those reactions, I've wondered if our enthusiasm about greeting a new citizen to the most wonderful country in the world somehow made them feel like we were subliminally putting down their ex-country or something. Like, "of COURSE you want to be an American. Who wouldn't be?!? And now you are one!"

4/26/2008 06:13:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Jafco: If you have something to say, say it. I doubt you do, because the nexus of W's story is the cowardly and dastardly desertion of our Vietnamese allies by the Democratic Party.

The Nixon Doctrine stated that the United States henceforth expected its allies to take care of their own military defense. Do you remember those images of a helicopter evacuating people from the US Embassy in Saigon? That was during the Ford Administration.

4/26/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

It is sad that governments are chiefed by the double-tongued. There is iron in the deeds of the Hmong for all Amriki, Barkindji and Macabebe to see.



Lieutenant Nung
Of all the indigenous fighters in Trinquier's GCMA-Tonkin command, the Meo tribesmen of the western Tonkin highlands were acknowledged as the best. The Meo produced by far the best Maquis commando and commando leaders. One of these was a Lt. Nung from the Pha Long region, an officer Trinquier described as having uncommon valour.

In May 1952 Nung, a graduate of Junior Officers School, began organizing a Maquis in the upper Red River region from among the Yao Sam Meo and Col des Nuages highlands population near the Chinese border. After choosing an able Montanyard, Lt. Long, as his 2-I-C, Nung set about selecting 40 cadremen. All training and preparation completed, Lt Nung's "Maquis Cardamone" was ready to go by early 1953. By the end of June he and his men had rallied 600 volunteers for their Maquis. Some were from Phong Tho, a northwest Tonkin village Nung and his men had liberated from VM control.

Nung's intel net informed him in late September 1953 that the enemy was preparing to mount an operation to recapture Phong Tho, having set up a battalion staging area in and around the northern Red River town of Lao Kay, 50 miles west of Phong Tho. After assessing the situation, Nung decided to hit the VM at Lao Kay with a combined ground-airborne assault before the planned offensive had a chance of maturing. Lao Kay itself was situated on the east bank of the river. The Viet Minh had established a temporary headquarters there, basing their troops across the river near the adjoining village of Coc Leu.

During the night of the 5 – 6th October 1953, 500 Maquis commandos led by Lt. Long infiltrated to within 100 metres of Coc Leu, a jump-off point that also served as a block position for any VM who decided to exit the area.

At daybreak, Lt. Nung and 40 of his commandos jumped from three Dakotas, landing in their designated DZ south of Coc Leu and Long's position. After assembling and rendezvousing with Long's commandos, Nung's paras spearheaded the surprise attack. Though caught off guard, the Viet Minh were able to mount a hasty counter-attack that was beaten back by Nung's men, who drove them across the river towards Lao Kay. By the day's end the Viet Minh had been completely routed, their arms and supply caches destroyed, and a planned offensive thwarted. As an exclamation point to their victory, Nung's men blew the only bridge connecting Lao Kay to China, thus severing for a while a primary Viet Minh supply line.

The overwhelming success of Lt. Nung's operation had the added benefit of rallying hundreds of new volunteers to his Maquis Cardamone.

4/26/2008 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

The Two Faces of Communist Laos

4/26/2008 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Vang's War

4/26/2008 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

At five foot five, he was tall for a Hmong. A small wart was the only distinguishing mark on his round, intense face. Vang Pao had fought with distinction alongside the French, and was lauded for his displays of leadership. He had been educated in the early 1950s at the French Police Academy in nearby Luang Prabang. Of 80 students, Vang Pao was the only Hmong. Treated badly by the lowlanders, Vang Pao got his revenge, graduating first in his class. Back among the high country tribes, Vang Pao became their Napoleon.

4/26/2008 07:25:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

The Fall of Lima Site 85

4/26/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Air America’s Singular Aerial Victory

pic

4/26/2008 07:41:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Like, "of COURSE you want to be an American. Who wouldn't be?!? And now you are one!"


After listening to a news story just now about the big shoot out south of San Diego, I'd opt for that.

4/26/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Still a secret War

4/26/2008 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

“A promise was made a long time ago between the Hmong and Americans that, as allies, we would help each other,” he said. “The Hmong have done their part a long time ago, and now we need the help of America.”

4/26/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

Hmong warrior, Lima Site 85, 1962.

4/26/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Unchained Melody - my favorite version is Al Green's - on a mid-seventies album..."Home"? - The hit on the record (a minor one by Al's standards) was "Living for You." ...

4/26/2008 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Thank you W, for posting this.

Today's most dangerous polites are the Democratic American voters, who can cripple the ongoing global war effort.

They openly say they don't care about the effect beyond their own polity. They are an embarrassment, an abomination, upon the American global commitment since 9/11.

There is a good chance they can be elected, and turn this decade into the next Vietnam, aka Carter's 1980's, where we betrayed our allied on every continent.

4/26/2008 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Did someone say "Unchained Melody"?


Elvis doing “Unchained Melody” in his 5 Octave Voice

4/26/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Tony: There is a good chance they can be elected, and turn this decade into the next Vietnam, aka Carter's 1980's, where we betrayed our allied on every continent.

There's a scene in Apocalypse Now when Robert Duvall sees a wounded Vietcong and orders someone to bring him a canteen. "Get this man a drink of water" he says. In his mind anyone trying to keep his own intestines from flopping out deserves a drink of water. But just when he's about to give the wounded enemy a drink, some beach boy mentions the killer waves, and Robert Duvall loses interest in the man and turns away. That's America in a nutshell right there. Noble intentions, no follow-through. Just ask the Kurds, the Afghanis, the Vietnamese.

4/27/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Did you know that the Hmong are the owners of a spontaneously generated alphabet(the Pahlawah, if I remember its name aright)? There are only two such alphabets on record. The story is told in the book "Mother of Language," by . . . last name Little, deceased, Yale.

I forget the name of the (non-literate) shaman who received the alphabet via ancestors who visited in dreams. The shaman was a peaceful man who didn't sufficiently support Gen. Vang, who saw him as a threat and apparently ordered the shaman's execution.

There was a cultural society dedicated to the preservation of the alphabet, but the alphabet seems to have lost out to a Roman alphabet, for obvious reasons such as adaptability to Mircrosoft Word.

4/27/2008 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Tony: There is a good chance they can be elected, and turn this decade into the next Vietnam, aka Carter's 1980's, where we betrayed our allied on every continent.

Correction, Jimmy Carter only owned the opening year of the 1980s, and the last three years of the 1970s. He realizes that history has rendered a verdict on his failed presidency, and ever since he was turned out of office he has been trying to rehabilitate his image, much like Richard Nixon tried to do. But Tricky Dicky limited his patch-up work to writing books analyzing foreign affairs and offering sage advice. Well and good, that's why we keep our ex-Presidents on the payroll. But Jimmy fancies himself a sort of free-lance Secretary of State, and he never met a totalitarian strongman he didn't like. But no one is immortal. One anticipates the appearance of a certain Shakespeare quotation on the occasion of his funeral, "Nothing in his life became him like the leaving of it."

4/27/2008 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/27/2008 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/27/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

You guys who are perplexed by the American reaction to citizenship need to consult Chesterton on the subject.

4/27/2008 01:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...


Elite Korean Schools, Forging Ivy League Skills - New York Times

4/27/2008 01:50:00 PM  
Blogger Towering Barbarian said...

Teresita,
Your last sentence had some typos so I'll take care of it. :P

"That's American liberals in a nutshell right there. Noble intentions, no follow-through. Just ask the Kurds, the Afghanis, the Vietnamese."

There! Your sentence has now been fixed for greater accuracy. No thanks required. ^_~

4/27/2008 02:35:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Teresita, While your "Apocalypse Now"
analogy may have some merit; you're tripping on your slip. A few days ago, you stated America was the "Redcoats" intervening in the Vietnamese civil war. Now it was a cause of noble intentions we lost focus on. That is in essence why you annoy so many . You prefer to be clever than consistent.

4/27/2008 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Teresita's clever?

4/27/2008 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Bill: Teresita, While your "Apocalypse Now" analogy may have some merit; you're tripping on your slip. A few days ago, you stated America was the "Redcoats" intervening in the Vietnamese civil war. Now it was a cause of noble intentions we lost focus on. That is in essence why you annoy so many . You prefer to be clever than consistent.

Sorry Bill. I suppose it has to do with where you stand when you look at it. From the point of view of a Vietnam War hawk, and the point of view of the Hmong people and millions of South Vietnamese who fled the country, our presence there was a noble undertaking which we never executed to its completion. From the point of view of the victors of the Vietnamese civil war, ie. the antiwar movement in the USA and the North Vietnamese (who, after all, get to write the history books), we were just like the redcoats in 1775-1781. I was nine years old at the time of the fall of Saigon, more interested in watching the Bugaloos than helicopter evacuations. Now I get to piece together the truth at my leisure.

4/27/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Madison WI was going to name an elementary school after Hmong general Vang Pao (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vang_Pao). As you can imagine naming anything after a military figure in Madison is bound to be controversial and it was. Eventually, the school was named after Vang Pao.

However, shortly after the decision was made Vang Pao was arrested and accused of plotting to overthrow the Laotian government.

There are large numbers of Hmongs throughout our state. Funny enough, a former and disgraced state senator is caught up in the plot that Vang Pao was arrested for (see http://www.jsonline.com/watch/?watch=22&date=6/05/2007&id=24576).

4/28/2008 07:08:00 AM  
Blogger jafco said...

Teresita said: "...Now I get to piece together the truth at my leisure..."

And like a typical liberal, you tell only half-truths at best.

You further said: "...The Nixon Doctrine stated that the United States henceforth expected its allies to take care of their own military defense. Do you remember those images of a helicopter evacuating people from the US Embassy in Saigon? That was during the Ford Administration...."

That, in the context of this discussion, is a despicable lie clothed in some things that are true. Of course, you should be proud. You'll win kudos from your friends.

Here. Try Wikipedia's take on things:

"...The end of the War, 1973-1975

The Paris Peace Accord, agreed between communist Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger, and reluctantly signed in January 1973 by President Thieu, produced a ceasefire and allowed for the exchange of prisoners of war. Later that year the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho, but the Vietnamese negotiator declined it saying that a true peace did not yet exist in Vietnam. Gerald Ford took over in 1974 after President Nixon, who resigned the presidency on August 9 due to the Watergate scandal.

The U.S. midterm elections in 1974 brought in a new Congress dominated by Democrats who were much more willing to confront the president on the war. Congress immediately voted in restrictions on funding and military activities to be phased in through 1975 and to culminate in a total cutoff of funding in 1976. On December 13, 1974, North Vietnam violated the Paris peace treaty by attacking into the South. When North Vietnam violated the 1973 cease-fire agreement and invaded the South again in 1975, Ford desperately asked Congress for funds to assist and re-supply the South before it was overrun. Congress refused. The U.S. had promised Thieu that it would use airpower to support his government. But, having been forbidden by law to assist South Vietnam, Ford was unable to act. The balance of power thus shifted decisively in North Vietnam's favor...."

If one could ignore others on this board, you'd be gone that fast. You are dishonorable.

4/28/2008 08:20:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger