Time of Remembrance – Tua Vang
Interview with Tua Vang as part of the Secret War Oral History Project.
00:00 – Introduction
00:44 – Clip 1: Tua Vang explains of Hmong people, where they are from, and how they participated in the Secret War.
02:40 Clip 2: Explains Hmong migration to northern Laos and that Hmong means “Free.”
04:05 – Clip 3: Discusses French colonization of what became Indochina. Also explains origin of their written language.
06:39 – Clip 4: Explains how the first Hmong officer in the French Army lead to contact with CIA operative Bill Lair, who led the Police Arial Reinforcement Unit program in Thailand.
11:37 – Clip 5: Explains development of the coalition between U.S. and Hmong. Describes how Gen. Vang Pao to trained 1,000 Hmong volunteers. Talks about Long Cheng airstrip, which rapidly became one of the busiest airstrips in the world and did not exist on any map.
20:42 – Clip 6: Recounts end of Vietnam War in 1973. Due to no support from the U.S., they could: 1) Surrender and be killed; 2) Resist and be slaughtered; or 3) leave. General Vang Pao reached out to the U.S. to ensure that high-ranking officers and families could be air-lifted to Thailand, the rest were abandoned. Tua, who was 2 at the time, describes family’s harrowing escape.
26:42 – Clip 7: Describes lengthy stay in Thai refugee camp, where his family was in regular contact with the CIA case officer to Gen. Vang Pao. Tua’s father was reluctant to leave for the U.S. because his parents were still stranded in Laos. It took the advise from a doctor to convince Tua’s father that he needed to think of his children’s futures.
32:25 – Clip 8: Recalls arrival in San Francisco and seeing a major city for the first time. Enters 4th grade in a small public school and explains his transition into rural America, where the misconception is that Lao are Chinese. Explains fact that Hmong banding together to support and protect one another was a good thing, but unfortunately, led to gangs.
36:41 – Clip 9: Remembers wondering about his personal history as a refugee. It was during an AP History class that he realized Laos and the Secret War were not included in the curriculum nor when he was in CSU. A professor encouraged Tua to start researching and documenting this missing chapter in the Vietnam War story. His personal interest in his history became a passion.
40:13 – Credits