New effort to honor Hmong veterans

FRESNO, Calif.

Chi Neng Vang spends most of his days educating people about the role his father, General Vang Pao, played during the Vietnam War. The late general led CIA-trained Hmong and Lao troops which supported US forces.

Chi Neng said of the efforts to honor Hmong veterans, "It means a lot. It has great value in it because their involvement during that time was part of a secret war that was never disclosed or never made public up until '96."

Congressman Jim Costa has co-authored a bill to allow Hmong veterans to be buried in national military cemeteries such as those in Santa Nella and Tehachapi.

Costa told members of the Cultural Arts Rotary Club about the Hmong's contributions to American war efforts in Vietnam.

Costa said they included, "Rescuing US airmen, fighting the north Vietnamese, spying on the Ho Chi Minh trail, losing over 30,000 of their own in their support of American efforts in the Vietnam War."

The bill would affect as many as 6,000 Hmong troops still alive. Valley veteran Charlie Waters calls it a much deserved honor.

Waters told the group, "I don't know if you know this but they would sacrifice 20 and 30 people to save one American life."

Congressman Costa was confident his bill will pass. It was co-authored by Vietnam veteran and republican congressman Paul Cook.

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