One of the greatest of America’s heroes in the Vietnam War has died. His name was Vang Pao. He was 81 and he led a remarkable life. He died in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where he had made his home and was the leader of thousands of the Hmong people who had fought for the US in Laos and who had settled, like Pao, near Fresno in California’s bread basket known as the Central Valley.
In the 1950’s, Pao was a general in the Royal Army of Laos and allied himself with the French to fight the communist North Vietnamese. Later, he teamed with my friend Ted Shackley, the legendary “blonde ghost” from the CIA, who ran the secret war with General Pao in Laos against the communist Pathet Lao forces.
120,000 of General Palo’s men died in that war and tens of thousands of Hmong veterans and their families came to the US as refugees. Most of them considered Pao to be their head of state in exile. He was revered by the Hmong people throughout his life in Asia and North America.
In turn, US leftists hated him. They succeeded in having his name removed from a Madison, Wisconsin school and a Wisconsin public park. (where there are many Hmong). You remember those leftists don’t you, the ones chanting, “Ho, Ho, Ho… Ho chi Minh is going to win.” Around 1970. They and their progeny are still with us. One University of Wisconsin professor publicly protested by saying that General Vang Pao had a “violent history.” Well yes, what else could he have had?
A Hmong follower in Fresno told reporters that General Pao was “the glue” that held the refugee community together in the U.S. for 35 years.
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