Starting in 1960, Hmong guerrilla soldiers, under the command of General Vang Pao, functioned as the hands and feet of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's secret war against communist forces in Laos. Operating out of Long Cheng, the Hmong soldiers allowed the CIA to accomplish two objectives: to maintain the perception of United States neutrality in Laos and to tie up North Vietnamese troops in Laos who would otherwise have been sent to fight in South Vietnam.The U.S. government had quietly pledged to General Vang Pao and the Hmong that the Americans would take care of them in the event that Laos fell. In May 1975, this promise was redeemed when the CIA generated an air evacuation that moved more than 2,500 Hmong officers, soldiers and family members out of their mountain-ringed airbase. Fifty or so Hmong and Americans involved in the evacuation provide herein a firsthand account of the 14-day evacuation and the events leading up to it. Their accounts document both the political and human aspects of this unusual historical event.
Gayle L. Morrison has worked with the Hmong community for the past 30 years. In 2003-04 she received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue her oral history research with the Hmong. She lives in California.