Board honors Hmong soldiers who fought for the U.S. in secret war

Sutter County Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Whiteaker (left) presented a proclamation declaring September Hmong History Month to Honorable Civil General John Thao and Lt. Col. James Thao. Also in attendance was Major Turuel of the U.S. 24th Army Infantry Division, who said he is proud to have been asked to join the Hmong organization.


A touching moment at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. Many people have been watching the PBS documentary on the Vietnam War. Little known was the role of the Hmong in fighting a secret war in Laos on behalf of the United States government from 1960-1975. After the war, many Hmong were relocated to various countries, including the United States, because of ethnic cleansing by the Communists after 1975. The Sutter County Board of Supervisors presented representatives of the Hmong soldiers with a proclamation declaring September Hmong History Month. The proclamation follows:

WHEREAS, the Lao-Hmong, which means “free people,” valiantly supported the Armed Forces of the United States of America and its allies during the Vietnam War, serving in the “Secret Army” funded by the CIA, which included Special Guerilla Units and other Special Forces, to thwart the Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese Army in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand from 1960-1975; and

 WHEREAS, the members of this Laotian hill tribe are known for their warrior traditions, loyalty and bravery, evidenced by the guarding of Unites States personnel and Air Force radar installations; gathering critical intelligence on enemy movement and operations; performing rescue missions to save downed United States pilots; and fought in conventional and guerilla combat against overwhelming forces, including several North Vietnamese divisions, to disrupt the flow of troops and supplies along the Ho Chi Minh Trail; and

WHEREAS, a conservative estimate of more than 35,000 brave Lao-Hmong men, women and children lost their lives, more than 50,000 were wounded, and more than 2,500 remain missing in action, which does not include the devastating loss of life in excess of 30,000 when the Lao-Hmong fell victim to retributive ethnic cleansing starting in 1975 and continuing to this day; nor the thousands forced into re-education camps or who perished attempting to cross the Mekong River into Thailand; and

WHEREAS, in addition to the devastation to their homes and way of life, thousands of Lao-Hmong soldiers and their families became a country-less people when they commenced their perilous flight to seek safe refuge in other countries such as Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Japan, New Zealand and the United States—a mass exodus that continues to this day; and

WHEREAS, in 2013 the State Legislature declared September Hmong History month, and the Sutter County Board of Supervisors also recognizes the heroic and significant contributions made to the United States during fighting efforts in Laos and the exemplary way the Lao-Hmong have assimilated into and contributed to our American way of life.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT PROCLAIMED that the Sutter County Board of Supervisors does hereby proclaim September 2017 as Lao-Hmong History Month in the County of Sutter.