'Secret army' leader Vang Pao dies in US

Bangkok Post Published: 8/01/2011 at 02:49 AM
Former Laotian Hmong general Vang Pao, who died in the United States Thursday aged 81, was a controversial figure who led a CIA-backed "secret army" in the Vietnam war, and never abandoned the dream of leading his people home from exile.

The legendary guerrilla leader commanded thousands of fighters in the 1960s and 70s in the US-funded covert war against Vietnamese and Lao communist forces.
When the Washington-backed Lao royal government fell in 1975, Vang Pao fled to the United States, where he was credited with helping negotiate the resettlement in America of tens of thousands of fellow Hmong.

For decades he remained a revered figure in the Hmong community. Many considered the fervent anti-communist their leader in exile, and he was an active defender of the minority, many of whose members, according to human rights groups, are still persecuted and killed in isolated Laos.

But he was a polarising figure, one who raised money from the Hmong community through a secretive organisation some critics believed was being used to funnel funds to support of a new rebellion against Vientiane.

In 2007 Vang Pao was arrested in California along with eight others on conspiracy charges after authorities allegedly "interrupted a plot to overthrow the government of Laos by force and violence," according to the justice department. The charges were dropped in 2009.

Bangkok Post : 'Secret army' leader Vang Pao dies in US
There are lots of good war stories about him in the book Air America by Christopher Robbins. Not to be confused with the execrable film of the same name starring BDSM freak Mel Gibson.
More tales follwed in the other book about the Secret War in Laos " The Ravens "

Latest Threads