Revisiting Vietnam American RadioWorks
  Vietnam Scrapbook

Tong Thao
Saint Paul, MN, USA

By July 13, 2000, it would be six years already since my father passed away. During the Vietnam War, my father served as a clandestine soldier for the United States Central Intelligence Agency that was secretly operating in Laos. He and other Hmong soldiers were responsible for rescuing shot down American pilots, providing logistics and intelligence for the CIA, defending U.S airbases in northern Laos, and performing every conceivable duty needed to prevent the NVA from supplying their southern Vietcong brethren, on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The U.S also needed the Hmong guerrillas to defend northern Laos at all costs. If the Pathet Lao and NVA forces were to enter Vientiane, the capital of Laos, they would annouce to the world that the United States had violated the neutralization agreement signed on July 23, 1962, in Geneva. If this were to happen, the United States would be prevented from operating in Laos and, additionally, send clandestine soldiers, the Hmong, for example, to fight against the invading North Vietnamese Army, in North Vietnam.

When the United States pulled out of the Vietnam War, it also pulled out of its involvement in Laos. My father and many other Hmong guerrillas, thus, were left to face starvation, persecution and death by the NVA and the victorious communist Pathet Lao (Lao Nation) regime. Luckily, in the summer of 1984, my father was able to escape us to Thailand. In June of 1986, my family immigrated to the United States, settling in "friendly" Minnesota.

My father survived the war, yet the pscyhological impact of it lingered with him. We would be so afraid to wake him up, whenever he's asleep, because he would be startled and snap out of his dream as if he had been awoke by an explosion or a rat-tat-tat. In such a situation, he would sometimes fall off the bed and hurt himself.

My father and other former Hmong guerrillas were never given recognition and honored for their courageous service during the Vietnam War, until recently. I will never forget that my father lived a silent life after the Vietnam War.


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