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Murkowski: “Not All American War Heroes Were Americans”

Senator Introduces Bill to Honor Hmong Allies Who Saved Lives During Vietnam in “Secret War”

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski today introduced a bill to bring Hmong volunteers who made major contributions to the American cause in the Vietnam War out of the shadows of covert warfare, and into our national cemeteries as a permanent, lasting honor.

During the Vietnam War, the CIA conducted covert operations in Laos utilizing thousands of Hmong volunteers – a minority group persecuted by communists – to perform stealth operations in the “secret war” on the Ho Chi Minh trail and cross enemy lines to rescue American pilots.  Over 100,000 Hmong lost their lives by the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Murkowski’s bill would give the 6,900 Hmong-American veterans currently living in America the right to be buried in national cemeteries.

“When our pilots were downed by anti-aircraft fire behind enemy lines in the Vietnam War, the CIA asked our Hmong allies to risk their lives to advance our cause,” said Murkowski.  “Americans who served and fought and put their lives on the line receive a resting place in our national cemeteries; the men who saved American lives deserve the same honor.  Not all American war heroes were Americans.”

In terms of precedent, the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 permitted Philippine veterans who helped America’s cause in World War II to be buried in national cemeteries.

Two years ago this month, famed Hmong General Van Pao – who led thousands of Hmong guerillas in the “Stealth War” – died at age 81.  Soldiers like Pao are presently not allowed to be buried among their American brothers-in-arms from the Vietnam War.

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