Congresswoman McCollum's Statement on Recognizing the Service and Sacrifice of the Hmong Pilots of the Secret War in Laos
During the Vietnam War another “secret war” was taking place in Laos with thousands of Hmong fighters assisting the U.S. The Hmong who risked their lives for the freedom of their country and in the aid of the U.S. suffered tremendously as they served with great courage.
This weekend in Maplewood, Minnesota a little known group of Hmong pilot veterans of the secret war gathered and were recognized by the U.S. Air Force in appreciation of their heroism. Supported by the U.S., some 38 Hmong pilots were trained to fly counterinsurgency missions between 1967 and 1975. Seventeen of those pilots are alive today and were honored, along with posthumous awards for twenty-one deceased colleagues, by Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz.
I, too, would like to recognize and honor those brave Hmong pilots who are living examples of courage, along with the pilots who sacrificed their lives. The secret war was a difficult and painful time for the Hmong people. Today, decades later, Minnesota is the home to many who lived through those years of war and suffering. As Hmong Americans of all generations contribute to making Minnesota and the U.S. a stronger and more prosperous land, we must never forget the service, sacrifice, and courage of the Hmong warriors who fought on land and in the sky for freedom during the secret war.
Again, I join in the recognition and remembrance of thirty-eight Hmong pilots who risked their lives for freedom.