Hmong Army Veterans Ask for U.S. Citizenship

By Barber, Ben | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 15, 1998 | Go to article overview

Hmong Army Veterans Ask for U.S. Citizenship


Barber, Ben, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Thousands of Hmong veterans of the CIA's secret army in Laos from 1960 to 1975 assembled in camouflage uniforms at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial yesterday to mark their flight from communism and to ask for U.S. citizenship.

"We fought in Laos so that young American soldiers would not have to fight in the mountains," said Gen. Vang Pao, leader of the onetime secret Hmong army.

"Members of Congress: These former soldiers who escaped death at the hands of the Lao communists and stand here in front of us today appeal for your assistance" in becoming U.S. citizens.

Thousands of aging soldiers dressed in camouflage and hundreds of Hmong women wearing traditional colored dresses, jewelry and headcoverings, spread out in a neat formation on the grass of the Mall.

"America has been good to us - four of my children have good jobs, another is in college, and one is in high school," said former Capt. Lapien Sphabmixay, 64, from Charlotte, N.C.

Philip Smith, executive director of the Lao Veterans of America, said 4,000 Hmong-Americans arrived in Washington yesterday for the second annual celebration of the start of the Hmong exodus across the Mekong River into Thailand. …

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