Vang Pao, 1929-2011

Timeline

• Dec. 1929 - born to farmers in a Laotian village.

• WWII - Becomes a teenage translator for the French, fighting the Japanese in Laos. Trains at French school.

• 1961 - Recruited by the CIA to lead a secret army of Hmong soldiers against Laotian Communists/ North Vietnamese.

• 1975 - Lives in Montana before moving to Orange County.

• 1980s - Forms Neo Hom to aid insurgents in Laos fighting Communists.

• 2003 - Meets secretly in Amsterdam with Vietnamese officials who seek his support for normalized U.S. trade relations with Laos. He asks Vietnamese to pressure Laos to stop persecuting Hmong.

• 2007 - Federal authorities charge him and eight others with planning to overthrow Communist government of Laos, sparking Hmong protests. Spent six weeks in jail.

• 2009 - Charges dropped.

• 2009 - Plans to return to Laos to seek reconciliation. Cancels after Communist regime says it would execute him as a war criminal.

• 2010 - Attends Hmong International New Year celebration in Fresno, later hospitalized.

• Jan. 6, 2011 - Dies at age 81 in Clovis.

In his words
"The victory that we were most proud of was we were only a small ethnic minority in Laos and the superpower, the American people, asked us to help them to fight in this great war in which we were outnumbered ten to one by the enemy. We were able to stand up against them. We feel that we have this victory that no one else had."

- Vang Pao, 2008

Other media coverage
• The Economist: Unfinished business
• New York Times: Gen. Vang Pao’s Last War
• Star Tribune: Local Hmong mourn
• Star Tribune: A son's duty
• Fresno Bee: Funeral will guide Vang Pao's spirit
• NPR: Vang Pao coverage
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