POSTED: November 14, 2012 By Amy Doeun
On Veteran's Day every year the country takes a moment to honor and remember all the veterans that have served this country. Throughout the state; schools, cities, organizations and other groups have found special ways to honor veterans.
On Sunday, November 11th members of the SGU and their families gathered at Buasavanh Banquet Hall in Brooklyn Center. The event was organized by SGU Veterans and Families Development of USA, a St. Paul based group seeking benefits from the U.S. Government for Hmong Soldiers. Shia Lo, attorney for the group was at the event on Sunday.
Lo introduced HMONG TIMES to the younger brother, Vue Lee, of legendary Hmong pilot Lee Lue. Lee also served in the military during the Secret War but was wounded so badly
he could not return to service and spent the rest of the war in the finance department. He proudly showed HMONG TIMES a picture of his brother who was shot down in 1969 during the height of the war. He teared up as he remembered his brother and the great loss to his family and the Hmong people as a whole.
Lo, who was translating, also teared up saying, "Everyone talked about him [Lee Lue] all the time. When he died, that was how the Hmong lost the war. He was a major force for the U.S." Both gentleman confirmed that General Vang Pao has said the death of Lee was a, "turning point of the war ... he was so good he couldn't be replaced."
Colonel Richard Vang (Captain during the war) also flew missions over Laos during the war as a spotter for an American pilot - given the job of scouting the enemy's night time movements. He told HMONG TIMES about a time he had been shot down but luckily survived. After coming to the U.S. Vang became the 1st Hmong Minneapolis Police officer, later went back to Thailand and now works for the FBI in Minneapolis.
When the war ended, Lincoln Thao was a lieutenant. He shared that he had started fighting in 1961 when he was just 11 years old. Fourteen years later the war ended and he was left behind. He was captured by the communists and since he was a lieutenant he was sentenced to 10 years of "reeducation." During those 10 years he experienced "tremendous hardship." His family did not know where he was. He was forced to eat rice and sand for one whole year. He said he protested, saying, "We were just soldiers doing what we were told to do. We don't hate you. Why are you treating us so badly?" He said after that he was "fed just enough to survive." When asked why his punishment was so heavy, he was told, "You are a CIA American soldier, no penalty is too heavy. You are not worthy for us to kill you or worthy to be alive."
Somehow he survived 10 years and was released. He applied for political asylum based on his imprisonment and came to the U.S. in 1992.
Major Nao Leng Vue shared that his uncle who was a higher ranking officer receive 20 years of the same treatment. Vue who is from Colorado created a video narrated in English and available on youtube describing the Secret War. Available at:
Kevin X. Vang, Chairman of the Hmong Council in Minnesota said that "Veteran's Day is very important. We need to remember the army and soldiers who sacrificed their lives." He added that there is danger both in the Hmong community and mainstream American community to forget the men who had made numerous sacrifices. "The veterans are very important for the community, without them we cannot live our lives."