Franken remembers former CIA Officer who played an important role in the formation of Minnesota’s Hmong community.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Nov. 2, 2014) — U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) made the following statement on the recent death of Colonel Bill Lair, who played an important leadership role with the Hmong-American Community in Minnesota and across the country. Colonel Bill Lair died on October 28.
“Franni and I were saddened to hear of the loss of Colonel Bill Lair, a CIA officer who worked closely with the renowned Hmong General Vang Pao as he fought the communists in the jungles of Laos during the Vietnam War era. Because of the heroic efforts of General Vang Pao, Colonel Lair and thousands of Hmong fighters, there were many fewer American deaths and casualties in Southeast Asia during that time. Colonel Lair recognized the important role that General Vang Pao and the Hmong fighters played during that time and was instrumental in later bringing them and their families to the United States. Today, Minnesota has one of the largest Hmong Communities in the country, where they thrive and contribute much to our state.
“I know the loss of Colonel Lair this week and the death of General Vang Pao in 2011 have hit the Hmong American Community in Minnesota hard. But as we remember these important men, I know that the community still has strong leaders, and that future leaders will emerge as the Hmong-American Community continues to thrive in our state.”