January 8, 2011

"The biggest hero of the Vietnam War" has died.

Vang Pao was 81.
The Hmong are a tribe in the fog-shrouded mountains separating Laos from southern China, and they were natural allies for the C.I.A. because of their enmity toward Laotian lowlanders to the south, who dominated the Communist leadership.

General Vang Pao quickly organized 7,000 guerrillas, then steadily increased the force to 39,000, leading them in many successful battles, often against daunting odds. William Colby, C.I.A. director in the mid-1970s, called him “the biggest hero of the Vietnam War.”

Lionel Rosenblatt, president emeritus of Refugees International, in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 2008, put it more bluntly, saying General Vang Pao’s Hmong were put “into this meat grinder, mostly to save U.S. soldiers from fighting and dying there.”

8 comments:

traditionalguy said...

And his family was in Gran Torino.

William said...

Only leftist guerrillas are allowed to die heroic combat deaths. All other combatants are pawns, dupes, or fascists.

edutcher said...

The Hmong knew what would happen if the NVA took over. They were fighting for their lives.

Too bad there were too many "Americans" like William Ayers and William Jefferson Blyth III who were on the other side.

AllenS said...

I met some heroic men when I was in Viet Nam. This man wasn't one of them. In fact, I never heard of Hmongs until sometime in the 1970s or 80s. Hmongs were originally from China. They never fit in when they moved to Laos. They were going to be fighting the locals whether they helped us or not. They never had a future in Laos and couldn't return to China.

The Drill SGT said...

Allen,

The Montagnards you likely knew in VN were Degar. The Hmong are also called Montagnards (from the French) but are not the same culturally.

Vang Pao was never in VN, he fought in Laos... well they did cross over on occassion. Those 'Yards that the SF recruited were Degar.

Vang and all the Montagnards (both Degar and Hmong) have been badly treated by the lowlands in Loas, Vietnam and China for centuries. But when those three countries developed communist politics, the Hong became anti-communist :)

Vang was a heroic figure to his people and a great ally.

God's speed...

ricpic said...

Tennessee Williams' Waterloo

Hung like a Hmong he couldn't compete
With the ding dong daddies on Basin Street.

David said...

General Vang Pao’s Hmong were put “into this meat grinder, mostly to save U.S. soldiers from fighting and dying there.”

True, but the Americans had their own meat grinder, called "search and destroy." This essentially involved putting American platoons in North Vietnamese dominated areas to act as bait, hoping that not too many died before reinforcements or air cover came to the rescue.

I drive over the William Westmoreland bridge every time I go to the Charleston airport. Worst general in modern American history.

Job said...

General Vang Pao’s Hmong were put “into this meat grinder, mostly to save U.S. soldiers from fighting and dying there.”

Yes, it would have been much more just if boys from Vermont or Iowa died trying to save SE Asia from communism. The Hmong just lived there. Not like they had any stake in the fight.

Of course. Makes perfect sense.