By TOM LAVENTURE
AAP staff writer
ST. PAUL (May 31, 2010) – The Hmong Special Guerrilla Units and servicemen of the Royal Lao Armed Forces, along with surviving comrades and families of those lost during the War in Southeast Asia – honored their memories with a wreath ceremony on Memorial Day.
The event was held on the west side of the shrubs adjacent from the Vietnam War Memorial on the State Capitol grounds, where the Minnesota Legislature has already approved this piece of land to one day hold an official war memorial. Until such time as fundraising is complete the ceremony includes a wreath ceremony and military formation.
The memorial service was for the servicemen and women of the Royal Lao Armed Forces, include the Air Force, Fluvial Navy, Regular and Irregular Forces and Special Guerrilla Units that lost their lives during the Lao-Hmong effort in the “secret war” against the Viet Minh from 1959 to 1975.
Xai Pau Vang, president, Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans and Families USA, Inc., spoke briefly to the veterans and guests about the importance of the day and the significance of the memorial.
According to Xang Vang, board member and veteran, Xai Pau Vang said the fortunate survivors must pay tribute and respect to those that did not have the same fortune and were killed in battle. He said that once built and dedicated, this memorial site, approved by the Governor, the Legislature and Veterans Affairs in recognition of the Secret War in Laos, would allow their countrymen to call their souls to this home where they can rest in freedom and democracy with their families in this country.
“So we all have to remember one another,” he concluded.
Xang Vang said the SGU veterans and families continue to commemorate the site in a unique wreath ceremony, where the survivors line-up to touch the wreath as they speak out loud to the loved one(s) that they lost in the war or fleeing Laos.
“They left them there and still think of them today,” said Xang Vang.
“This is a very important and significant day for veterans and their families, so they can remember and dedicate their serviceman and women who passed away in the Secret War in Laos,” he added.
The SGU in Laos had three primary missions. The first was to rescue downed American pilots shot down between Vietnam and Laos. The second was to disrupt the supply route along the Ho Chi Minh Trail from North to South Vietnam. The third was to protect the radar stations that directed all American aircraft going to Hanoi and the far North Vietnam.
Xang Vang estimates that without the Hmong SGU, Royal Lao, and the Amerian trained Khmer Force Armée Nationale Khmère (FANK) forces, the communist supplies and personnel getting through to the south could have led to increased losses in America lives – he said three times the more than 58,000 that were killed.
In Military Region II of Laos, the Xang Vang said the SGU lost around 35,000 personnel, and together with estimates across the other regions add up to over 60,000 killed in military action with the Communist Viet Minh and the Pathet Lao forces.
The other battle today is to get SGU veterans benefits for aging people that suffer similar ailments to their American counterparts, bad feet, PTSD, toxin exposure related ailments and more. The discussion of future legislation is focused on command structure and intent of the SGU with the CIA as an integral part of an American effort, or a supplied and supported group that was fighting a common enemy for its own interests.
To find out more about the SGU Memorial fund contact SGU Veterans & Families at 651-528-6240, or visit 302 University Avenue W., Suite 201, St. Paul, MN 55103.