LAOS : The Secret War

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LAOS : The Secret War
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***Ervin Davis, the creator and maintainer of this website passed away April 22, 2007.

His family can still be contacted through his old email address,
Please continue to sign the guestbook. He always loved to hear from fellow Vets and researchers..!

The Royal Laos National Flag as proudly flown until 1975

LAOS : Originally known as "Lan Xang" :
("Land of the Million Elephants")

Support Secret War in Laos

      • "There are risks and costs to a program of
        action, but they are far less than the long range
        risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

LAOS : Geography

Today Laos is known as Lao People's Democratic Republic (Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao).
Laos is a landlocked 91,429 sq. mile (236,800 sq. km) country bordered on the North by People's Republic of China (PRC / Red China / Mainland China / Chin Dang), the North & East by Vietnam (An Nam / Nam Viet / Viet Nahm), the South by Cambodia (Angkor / Kampuchea / Khmer), the South & West by Thailand (Kingdom of Thailand / Siam) and on the West by Burma (Myanmar / Union of Myanmar / Union of Burma).
The Capital city of Laos is Vientiane (Viangchan), located at 17�58' North, 102�36' East (17.9667, 102.6).
Vientiane comprises 5 Districts : Chantabuly, Hadxaifong, Sikhottabong, Sisattanak, Xaysetha.
The country of Laos is sub-divided into 16 Provinces, 1 Municipality and 1 Special Zone :
PROVINCES ( 16 ) : Attapu [Attopeu], Bok�o, Bolikhamxai [Borikhane], Champasak [ Champassak], Houaphan [Houa Phan], Khammouan [Khammouane], Louang Namtha [Houa Khong], Louangphabang [Luang Prabang], Oud�mxai , Ph�ngsali [Phong Saly] , Salavan [Saravan] , Savannakh�t , Viangchan [Vientiane] , Xaignabouli [Sayaboury / Lan Chang] , Xekong [Sekong] , Xiangkhoang [Xieng Khouang] .
MUNICIPALITY ( 1 ) : Vientiane (prefecture) [kampheng nakhon] .
SPECIAL ZONE ( 1 ) : Xaisomboun [Saysomboun] .
The Mekong River, flows from 17,000 ft above sea level, in the Tibetan Plateau, southward through Laos 2,600 miles (4,200 km), to the South China Sea.
NOTE : Laos : Big Picture
NOTE : U.S. Embassy in Vientiane
NOTE : Royal Laos National Anthem
NOTE : Laos History : Generalized and brief .
NOTE : Laos History : onward from 1353 A.D.
NOTE : Today�s News and Weather from Vientiane .

Wars in Laos

This page only takes a 'tiny peek' at a roughly 20-year 'Secret War' in Laos that can trace its origins of requested American involvement to around 1955 and its end 'Officially' to 1974.

Wars in Laos are known as far back in history as there are legends .
Laos was originally part of the Khmer Empire , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] and later absorbed into the Kingdom of Siam , [ 2 ] .
In 1893 the French incorporated Laos into " French Indochina" . The 1940's were years of major change in Laos, although hindered by a Communist movement. The mid-1950's the French were engaged in the Indochina War, afterwhich Laos had gained its independence from France but followed by a subversive militant Communist uprising that drew the country into an agonizing civil war.
Every Tribe was somehow effected by the war, or involved in the war, during the 1960's. Especially when the elements of war arrived on their door step, leaving them no other option but to flee, suffer, die or resist. Due to the wide geographic dispersion of villages, some from the same Tribes became separated and resulted in villages of the same Tribe supporting opposition sides, at times, during the many wars in Laos.
So, in some vicinities, allegiances also attributed to lasting perplexity of everyone concerned.
Tribal identities were also sometimes confusing, especially to 'outsiders' hearing similar sounding Tribal names and then assuming them to both be the same but only pronounced slightly differently, as in the case of the "Hmong and Mong", for one example.

During the 1960's some village locations, of the same Tribe, supported the Royal Lao Government (RLG) while other village locations of the same Tribe may have supported the Communists,.... while other village locations may have shifted sides occasionally depending upon who had control of that area where they lived, or who had most to offer them for their support.
Some of the more noteworthy Tribal names, who supported the Royal Lao Government and who were supported by secret American involvement, include the Hmong (Meo / Miao), Khmu (Kmhmu), Lao and Mein Tribes.
These, and other honorable Tribal identity peoples of Laos, produced self-sufficient men, women and children of great courage, who survived the hardships of poverty, drought, isolated lifestyles, who sacrificed and suffered the attributes of generations of war-after-war thrust upon their peoples by other Tribes of their own countrymen, and even by other Clans of their own Tribe, and by hundreds of years of foreign invaders.
One of those Tribes was then and now noted for providing the highest numbers of manpower supportive of their Royal Laos Government and supportive of our American Government objectives. That particular Tribe consisted of people respectfully 'then' known to us Americans as the "Meo" (Miao), but who in recent years prefer to be called "Hmong".

The secret war in Laos began with a few occasional hill tribe employees but by the late 1970's had turned into a multi-U.S.-intelligence agency supported 30,000+ member 'Secret Army' of irregulars who : secured villages, fought invaders, defended against civil war enemies, protected secret U.S. installations that 'officially' didn't exist, rescued downed American pilots from places they didn't 'officially' fly over, etc. ....... Meanwhile Laos Hill Tribes also produced manpower for a 'Secret Air Force' and countless other manpower help provided to covert U.S. operations which kept around 100,000 invading North Vietnamese troops preoccupied while destroying tons of enemy military supplies that otherwise would have made their way westward deeper into Laos killing more innocent Laos villagers, and southward into South Vietnam to kill more Americans stationed there with related allied personnel.
NOTE : Excellent Hmong info

Is Someone You Know
Alive Today Because of Laos ?

Most of our fellow Americans don't even have a clue about the secret war fought in Laos or that thousands of American lives were saved due to the elimination of enemy manpower & supplies that never made it through Laos, to attack some 500,000 American military and civilians in South Vietnam. Few of our American countrymen even have a clue about the secret war in Laos, or the extent of the sacrifices, or the hundreds of U.S. & allied POWs that Laos never returned, .....and the 'other Allied and American POW / MIA / KIA' names never placed on a 'de-classified or official list', as well as lasting concerns by their family members and comrades about Live Sighting Reports.
Well, NOW is your chance for a little peek inside that war, because our government's cloak of secrecy was finally lifted with the 'okay to talk' announced by one of our former Commanders, USAF Air Commando Brig. General Harry C. "Heinie" Aderholt , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] , below is a tiny peek into that era of 'secret' Cold War history, so that YOU too might know.
NOTE : Air Commando's : Today : Special Operations Wing , [ 2 ]
NOTE : Air Commando's : Yesterday : In Vietnam and Laos
NOTE : Air Commandos : Origin : In WW-II : In Burma, China and India : Units : Duties
NOTE : Air Commando Association : ACA

Why A Secret War in Laos ?

Every year the summer dry season in Laos served to invite unwanted intrusions by War Lords, bandits, looters and military forces from neighboring nations. Such annual intrusions left Laos suffering and in turmoil.
Most of the warfare problems in Laos were the result of combatants being supplied by or recieving support from War Lords, bandit gangs, neighboring nations or military hardware delivered from distant global powers.
By the late 1950's Laos was falling into a grave Civil War. Situations inside Laos worsened in intensity during the late 1950's and early 1960's when The Soviet Union and Red China sought to establish worldwide Communism by stimulating anti-government revolution in nations around the world, where weapons, warfare training and other support was provided to fuel rebellion.
As a result of the aspirations of global oriented Communism, warfare broke out in nations around the world with countless innocent people murdered by Communist rebels, newly armed bandits and power mongers who were provided guns, training and psychological stimulation to become focused angry anti-establishment pawns inside their own nations to compliment the Communist objective of world conquest headed by the Mainland Communist Chinese and Soviets.
Resulting political and economic problems sprang up around the world. So to seek peaceful solutions for various international problems, the major world powers met at Geneva, Switzerland in 1954 and again in 1962. At Geneva those world powers agreed on many global issues, which included the 1962 agreement that Laos was to remain neutral of foreign military intervention. ......But in the meantime covert and overt participants only pretended to honor that neutrality.

The warfare in Laos only got worse !!! Village disputes, regional conflicts, and other problems, to include the armed turmoil of the Communists, which led into a horrible Civil War for Laos.

As the Civil War progressed in Laos it was generally characterized by dry season Communist advances (November - April), and with an emphasis on counter-offenses by Royal Lao Government forces in rainy seasons (May - October).
Situations inside Laos deteriorated to the point that our U.S. government was asked by the King of Laos and Prince Souvanna Phouma, for urgent assistance.
There was a dire need for a Laotian ability to counter the Communists, but due to Geneva Convention Accords of 1954 & 1962 (signed by world governments) made it illegal for foreign military powers to intervene in Laos situations ; to provide combatants, etc., so all such assistance and related aid should NOT have any obvious U.S. military 'combatant' connections.
The CIA with USAF Air Commandos got the job of setting up air & ground operations, which were secretly under the authority of the U.S. Ambassador at the American Embassy in Vientiane, Laos.
The recruited U.S. Air Force Pilots, Maintenance people, Weapons Troops and other personnel originally served Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments originating from Hurlburt Field in Florida, then later more manpower was needed and brought TDY from George A.F.B. California, then later personnel were assigned permanently (PCS) to Udorn and to N.K.P. Royal Thai Air Force Bases, Bien Hoa A.F.B. in South Vietnam , and covertly TDY to Air America , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] , [ 5 ] , and to bases & operations inside Laos.
NOTE : World Time Zone Map includes time in Laos at this moment.
NOTE : See if it's Daylight or Dark in Laos right now.

Who's on First ?

There were NO simple Baseball game rules for understanding events in Laos, which also composed some of the protective 'Secret War' actions that couldn't be acknowledged to the international community, or even to our own families or fellow Americans, for over 30 years.
Keeping up with activities in Laos was very confusing at times, . . . . until the larger big pictures were able to be assembled. So to gain a brief glimpse into some of the noteworthy complex nature of that environment 'a FEW examples' include ; . . . . Multi-sided 'Civil war' inside Laos involving various Tribes at war with each other, . . . . But some villages who compose the same Tribal identity may be supporting the opposition, . . . . Roving 'deadly serious' Armed Bandits (an old saying in Laos is ; "If the Communists don't get you, then the Bandits will !!!") , . . . . Desperate Refugees needing evacuated or food or medical assistance, . . . . Villagers needing protection from someone trying to kill them or kidnap them for sale as slaves, . . . . Smuggler caravans, each with their own small army, transporting anything from store merchandise to guns for sale or trade, . . . . Overhead 'Spook' aircraft of unknown origin, . . . . Soviet Union KGB spies, . . . . Rewards paid by the Communists to any villagers who capture live Americans, . . . . Rewards paid in gold to any villagers (or paid to corrupt 'secretly cooperating' Communist military officers) for the return of American civilian 'employees' or related aircrew members, . . . . A Civil War in which 'fair weather' alternating loyalty sometimes made it difficult from week to week to keep track of what village was supporting who, during that months combative situations, . . . . Unprovoked attacks on Lao villages by North Vietnamese & Pathet Lao, . . . . Villages attacked by neighboring villages, . . . . Villages who were sometimes attacked by neighboring villages but who later sometimes join together into a cooperative confederation for awhile, to fight invaders, common enemies, then later become separated, to fight each other some more, or to resume occasional looting of each others villages, . . . . . Some mountain village families working a full growing season to grow market value of around $35 worth of rice annually (if the weather is good and insects or thieves or taxes paid to Communists do not make even that amount of rice imposable for the poor hill tribe families to survive), . . . . Dirt Landing Fields that became safe or unsafe week by week or day by day, as they change hands during battle, . . . . Intrusions into Laos by well armed Chinese Army or North Vietnamese Regulars or Cambodian military or mercenary troops or looting bandits, . . . . Several thousand Chinese and Laos slaves building infiltration roads in Northeast, East and Southeastern Laos, . . . . Secret aid to Anti-Communist Mainland Chinese inside China, . . . . Aircrews report seeing Soviet built T-34 Tanks reappearing in the north, but then on later flights the mysterious tanks had disappeared back into the jungle, . . . . Several thousand North Vietnamese and Laotian slaves building infiltration roads into Northeast, Eastern and Southeastern Laos, . . . . Secret recruitment, training, equipping and then insertion of Laotian and trusted Vietnamese hill tribes to watch and report and sabotage movement of North Vietnamese Communist military manpower, vehicles and materials traveling south along the Ho Chi Minh Trails ("Truong Son Road")- infiltration routes, . . . . Several thousand North Vietnamese and Cambodian slaves building infiltration roads in Southeastern Laos, . . . . Secret aid to Cambodians who were pro-Lao but anti-Communist Cambodian, . . . . Training anti-Communist Cambodian (Khmer) Air Force Pilots to address invasion and guerilla problems in Cambodia and who also assisted in air missions supportive of the flow of communist troops and materials through Laos into Cambodia,. . . . . Sudden Soviet MIG fly-overs, . . . . Rewards issued by the Soviet KGB for the capture of American civilians or military in Laos, . . . . Several thousand Anti-Communist Chinese Army KMT forces left over from World War Two are waiting for orders from Taiwan to someday attack China, who receive air drop supplies from secret Formosa (Taiwanese) aircraft that suddenly appear then hurriedly vanish, . . . . Private wars in Southwestern Laos and Northern Burma fought between Generals of former KMT forces (1967 Opium War), . . . . Secret profits for Communists resulting from theft of Teak Forests being harvested in south-eastern Laos and western Cambodia, . . . Elephant caravans carrying merchandise, supplies, war materials or Teak logs, . . . Spill over intrusions from armed Burmese Khun Sa Rebels entering western Laos,. . . . Well armed Chinese gold and opium Smugglers following old prehistoric Salt Trails southward into northern Laos and others traveling southwest through Laos, . . . . Armed civilian Smugglers of Rare species of live Animals, . . . . Poachers harvesting rare animals for skin and Ivory, as well as bone and organs to be dried for international herbal sales, . . . . Rare remaining endangered Rhinoceros hunted for its 'powerful sacred' horn, . . . . Armed Non-Lao Asian & European Mercenaries dedicated to private adventures or others paid by unknown sponsors for special recruited assignments, . . . . French Mafia maintaining a dominate permanent position during 'opium harvest season' to defend arrivals by other international organized crime groups wanting to purchase opium they also seek, . . . . Seasonal well armed Golden Triangle caravans carrying Opium to Jungle processing laboratories and / or raw or processed opiates (Heroin, Morphine base, etc) to waiting bulk buyers, . . . . Border crossings by 'private' groups on foot or with animals composing Gun runner caravans, . . . . International humanitarian aid given to some Lao government official but most or all of the aid vanished before reaching the needy Lao citizens,. . . . Tons of concrete donated by America for construction at the International airport, then secretly stolen under orders to the Lao Army for a downtown monument, . . . . Our American assistance to the Royal Lao Army & Royal Lao Air Force . . . . International Law prohibiting outside military assistance to Laos, but many nations secretly do it anyway, . . . . Royal Lao Air Force being attacked by or launching attacks against Royal Army during power struggle coups, . . . . Counterfeit American and other nationality currencies printed / distributed by Communists, . . . . Communists printing and distributing their own currency in Communist controlled areas of Laos,........ Counterfeit Communist currency being printed and generously provided insergents inside Communist controlled areas,..... 'Official' Royal Lao Army in conflict with Secret Lao Army, yet both were fighting their common enemy the Communist Pathet Lao Army who were aided by the North Vietnamese Army and Chinese Army and Soviet military, . . . . Russian aircraft secretly dropping guns and ammo to Communist Pathet Lao troops, . . . Eastern Laos villages invaded by an opposition group from another village who eliminates the old or sick villagers, then those who remain healthy are led away to be sold to North Vietnamese Communists for forced slave labor work along the Ho-Chi-Minh infiltration Trails so war materials can enter Laos to kill more Lao people, . . . . American trained Laos Captain Kong Le (Cong Lee) and his paratroopers recieve U.S. military training and equipment but then return to Laos where they find the political situation unbearable so they turncoat to recieve additional aid from the Soviets who provide pilots and Soviet aircraft to air-drop Kong Le's paratroop forces to attack the capital of Laos, . . . . Swapping or removing of all national identification markings on our vintage 'non-existent' aircraft so they can 'blend in' to appear to be identical aircraft engaged in combat 'elsewhere', or to remove all identity when providing 'assistance to civilian corporation clients' in another nation, . . . . Supply routes deep inside North Vietnam and Mainland China bombed by 'ghost aircraft' (with no identity markings), . . . . �Covert activities� by agents of international governments (some of which are still classified), . . . . Encountering individuals who�s needs must be respectfully yielded to, yet their identity and their organization identification / objectives were to remain unknown and never ever allowed to be inquired about or ever commented about (for 35 years anyway), . . . . and on and on it goes as the above provides just a FEW of the examples of potential encounters during the secret war years in Laos.

NOTE : De-classified Documents [ 1 ] , [ 2 ] , [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] , [ 5 ]

NOTE : Generic overview of the primary 'organized' Laotian control ideologies follows :
    • [1] NEUTRALIST leader Prince Chao Souvanna Phouma
      OBJECTIVE : Wanted a coalition government
      SUPPORTED BY : Prince Chao Phetsarath, General Kong Le, 'various' supportive nations and
      'interchanging ideology combatants' who had no particular loyalty.
        • NOTE : Prince Chao Phetsarath is full-brother of Souvanna Phouma [ 2 ], who was opposing his half-brother Prince Souphanouvong.
        • NOTE : Kong Le was a Kmhmu (Khmu). Recruited by French to fight Viet Minh Communists during World War Two. Then Paratroop trained by U.S. Rangers, but afterwards he turned away from U.S. Laos was in turmoil following the death of King Sisavang Vong (29 Oct. 1959) and the transition after his son became King Savang Vatthana (30 Oct. 1959). Then, less than a year later, in August of 1960 the 'Neutralist forces' under the command of General Kong Le attacked the Capital of Laos (Vientiane) overthrowing US-backed General Phoumi Nosavan during a coup d'etat. Souvanna Phouma who had been in France as the Laos Ambassador, returned to Laos to then serve as Prime Minister. In December of 1960, General Phoumi Nosavan's"> 'Rightist forces' attacked Vientiane and Khong Le fled from Vientiane into the countryside and joined the Pathet Lao Communist 'Leftist forces' and North Vietnamese stronghold in Xieng Khouang Province.
        • NOTE : In 1966 Kong Le leaves Laos because of demand by Royal Laos Government that his troops be absorbed by his former enemy Royalist troops. Kong Le was then replaced by General (Prince) Sengsouvanh Souvannarath.

    • [2] COMMUNIST (Leftist) Pathet Lao leader Prince Chao Souphanouvong
      OBJECTIVE : Wanted equal power and pro-Communist election results.
      SUPPORTED BY : Kaysone Phomvihan (Phomvihane), Hmong leader
      Faydang Lobliayao, North Vietnam, China, and Russia.
        • NOTE : Prince Chao Souphanouvong is known as "The Red Prince".
        • NOTE : Prince Chao Souphanouvong is half-brother to Prince Chao Souvanna Phouma, who is full-brother to Prince Chao Phetsarath, who was opposing his half-brother Prince Souphanouvong.
        • NOTE : In 1964, following several coups, the Pathet Lao were on one combatant side that was then being opposed the Neutralists and Royal Lao forces.
        • NOTE : Communists also supported by and forced the support from villages belonging to several tribal groups, to include villages belonging to same tribal groups supporting Royal Lao Government. When more Communists and less government were in a village area some village might swing support to which ever side provided them the better options of survival and / or support, hence not necessarily supporting their choice of ideology, as remote villagers usually wanted their affairs left alone unless they somehow immediately benefited from such 'then maybe more tolerated' intervention.
        • NOTE : Russia busily air dropped guns to Pathet Lao Communists.
        • NOTE : Chinese & North Vietnamese bring guns & troops to aid Communists.
        • NOTE : Pathet Lao opposed both Prince�s and King Savang Vatthana.
        • NOTE : After the war, Kaysone Phomvihane became the Lao People's Communist "Democratic Republic" leader who headed efforts to track down and eliminate the hill tribes, such as the Hmong and other Tribes, who had honorably supported the Royal Lao Government or helped those assisting the Americans, (who during the War were requested from the King of Laos to come help Laos during its time of turmoil, when the King of Laos was desperately trying to protect the further suffrage of the Laotian people and loss of his nation to the sudden encroachments Communist funded expansionism of global Communism). During the 1960's & 1970's inside Laos the Communist expansionism was being primarily waged against Laos by the same neighboring nations of Communist China and Communist North Vietnam who historically every year looted Lao villages, but who were then being helped with guided tours deep into Laos thanks to invitations by the pro-Communist Pathet Lao who were seeking to destroy the Royal Lao government headed by their own King of Laos.

    • [3] ROYALIST (Rightist) 's of King Savang Vatthana (Sisavang Vathana), Prince Boun Oum, led by Gen. Phoumi Nosavan
      and by Royal Lao Air Force General Thao Ma , [ 2 ]
      OBJECTIVE : Royal Laotian Government (RLG) wanted Peace, NO interruption of leadership.
      The RLG was opposed to the harmful negative influence of annual
      historic invasions of aggressive Bandits, Communist guerillas and
      military from neighboring nations, harming and stealing from Laos.
      SUPPORTED BY : U.S., Lyfoung (Lyfong) Touby's Hmong militia, and Thailand.
        • NOTE : Lyfong Touby was French-educated in North Vietnam and lead Hmongs with Free French against Japanese invaders, and later against Viet Minh - North Vietnamese Communists.
        • NOTE : Gen. Phoumi Nosavan�s Uncle was Prime Minister of Thailand)

    • [4] SECRET ARMY Meo (Hmong) ANTI-Communist tribesmen by Vang Pao
      OBJECTIVE : Food, health, education, security and to be left alone !
      SUPPORTED BY : CIA, (etc) & 'contract entities'. Key secret base : L-20A
        • NOTE : Other 'Company support people', included (although, may not have been limited to) :
          • Australians, British, Burmese, Chinese, French, 1 Hungarian (Poe), Indonesian, Japanese, New Zealand, Philippine, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibetan, U.S., Vietnamese, and Irregular Paramilitary from various hill tribes.
        • NOTE : Secret Army strength reached an estimated maximum of around 10,000 troops, 'at any one point in time',..... while TOTAL troop strength is further estimated to have involved a maximum total of around 30,000 individual paid tribesmen combatants who were employed briefly or longer during the entire secret war years inside Laos.

How To Launch A Secret War

A lot of cargo would need transported, so Civil Air Transport _ (CAT) and (its secret owner) Air America was contracted as a primary air cargo hauler.
Many aircraft were needed, with emphasis on vintage aircraft that were cheap to operate, already available, who�s identities were already 'controlled', which flew low and slow, hence better suited than high-speed craft for dense jungle warfare and counter-guerrilla operations.
Some included World War Two era C-46's & C-47's, C-135's, extensively modified B-26 bombers & T-28 aircraft acquired from secret operations elsewhere, complimented with others from a storage of retired USAF aircraft at Davis-Monthan A.F.B. and others assembled from new parts 'spares'
( NOTE : Check these Spy Satellite Photos, then just 'click' to any side to see more of the hundreds of stored military aircraft at Davis-Monthan A.F.B.)
'Special' aircraft were "sanitized" by removing serial numbers on components, so aircraft and recently acquired 'spare parts assemblies' could not be traced. Flight plan & maintenance logs could be pulled to eliminate 'evidence' problems. Several 'cloned' aircraft built from 'spare parts assemblies' could multiply the capability of a single 'legal' aircraft, by 'kind-a borrowing' it tail numbers belonging to Royal Lao Air Force (Geneva Convention Agreement restricted Laos from getting 'more' military aircraft). Such an arrangement provided a constant pool of available T-28's assembled at the Air America hangers in Udorn from 'spare parts assemblies' etc, and created a surplus of identical Tail Numbers. The problem with shared or borrowed tail numbers is that at no time can more than one aircraft with the same tail number be located at the same airfield, for fear that news might become noteworthy and potentially very embarrassing.
The shared tail number system also posed a bit of a problem if one of the 'non-existent' T-28's were shot down and the enemy recorded a 'borrowed' tail number before the aircraft remains got 'wasted'. But of course that evidence could be discredited when U.N. referees of the Laos civil war -"International Control Commission" - (I.C.C.) looked at the official flight plans of the 'real tail number aircraft' then they could easily find the 'genuine tail number' aircraft safely accounted for somewhere else and hence they could only conclude that the enemy report of a particular tail number destroyed T-28 was in error !
The enemy reportedly produced drawings of 'CARGO' aircraft they accused were dropping bombs, then presented the drawings to the I.C.C. and reportedly later to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, but everyone knows that CARGO aircraft just can NOT drop bombs ! (Unless bomb tail assemblies got removed, bomb housings strapped onto skids, the skids rolled over specially installed metal rollers, then 'kicked' out the rear cargo bay door as the aircraft climbs upwards over targets ! ) So the enemy observers were apparently wrong again !
For secrecy sake, aircraft may also need to become 'non-existent' by having NO national markings (flown by mercenary pilots without IDs), �..or if doing 'out of country work' (necessary to refuel in another country) an 'applicable selected nationality' logo placard could be inserted into frames on both sides of the fuselage, or 'extra nationalities' carried inside for multi-national engagements (Lao, Camb, SVN, U.S.) where such selective identity (or no identity) allowed an assignment bird to be able to �blend in�, as such was an important asset provision of �no one concerned - no one to ask any questions�.
The urgency to save Laos, and prevent a World War Three nuclear holocaust, dictated such urgencies and the secret nature of the missions and the manpower shortages of dependable skilled labor requiring 'non-military identifiable' cargo hauler or combat Pilots to be recruited from USAF (personal records "sheep dipped" --made non-existent via a clandestine manner of being mustered out of the military to perform paramilitary duties as a civilian ), while others were 'civilian' Air America Pilots (a CIA front organization asset using civilian employees of several 'nationality Passport origins' performing tasks for various 'clients'), while T-28's were also flown by 'contracted individuals' from various origins, including 'on loan' foreign military�s (such as Thailand) with no (or bogus) personal identification carried while inside Laos.
To safeguard 'special' aircraft, many were customarily removed (flown) from Laos during the night (in case of attacks) by border crossing most T-28's in 1966 & 1967 to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand, where Weapons Troops and other ground crews maintained them as the Thailand end of "Project Water Pump".
Most B-26's were converted to B-26-K Nimrod Gunships and kept just across the border from Laos at N.K.P., while electronic warfare version B-26's were kept at Takhli R.T.A.F.B., and a couple known as "Company Birds" flown from Air America's Flight Line at Udorn.
Recruitment of needed personnel included using 'existing aircrews and ground support employees', plus foreign mercenaries, as well as recruiting others with essential skills from the ranks of the military.
Due to the highly secret nature of the missions, and the potential international repercussions for America if captured, each American 'volunteer' realized they would NOT be there in any 'official military capacity', hence the need for only civilian clothing and the risk of any capture not included in protective agreements applicable to 'military prisoners of war' as established by the International Geneva Accord Agreements. Instead they could be treated as spies (-head shot- if captured wearing civilian clothing or with bogus / no IDs), and never returned to American soil ! Many of the 1966 - 1967 'volunteers' were focused on the recent (1962) Communist inspired near global nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how their individual roles in Laos (and elsewhere) could play an important role in stopping WW-III, .... so their level of patriotism was evident in their final selections as PACAF 'volunteers' by how they answered a difficult question following indoctrination : "If captured, are you willing to be disowned by the U.S. government ?" (Concerns remain about the plight of nearly 600 American POWs & MIAs never returned from Laos, and more who NEVER were on any 'official' POW / MIA list.)
The existence nor extent of the 'secret war' in Laos was supposedly NOT even known about in Washington, except by our President and only a necessary small number of 'trusted' Congressmen. The secret war in Laos was kept secret for some FIFTEEN YEARS, until just prior to 1970. After which, some blame the disastrous outcome of the war on outraged Congressmen suddenly learning the existence of a half-billion dollar a year Secret War in Laos, being fought without Congressional consent, so some went about on a witch-hunt, then laying scapegoat blame on the CIA, then hurtfully dismantling decades of extensive essential national security asset securement and expression capabilities of our nations Intelligence community, . . . which has had decades of lasting disastrous repercussions and difficulties for our nations intelligence community.
NOTE : Testimony of James Lilly
NOTE : Murphy's Laws of Combat
NOTE : Secret Vietnam War: The USAF in Thailand, 1961-1975
NOTE : Index to De-classified Laos Secret War communications

Unknown Asian Heroes

Unknown is the history about the 'Secret War', and those who fought it, which includes heroic mountain tribesmen, who's roles were the least known about by wars end.
One of those tribal groups were the Hmong, (Hmong means " People who are free") of whom some 30,000 are to have died during the entire war. Some also fought to protect Laos, as well as spare many American lives by providing critical support of Air Commando / PACAF / USAF destruction of thousands of tons of enemy war materials and manpower flowing southward along illegal jungle infiltration corridors ( " Ho Chi Minh Trails" / Truong Son Road ) passing through Laos from North Vietnam, some 16,000 km ( 9,942 miles ) along five primary roads and 21 lateral infiltration routes, of which 3,140 km ( 1,951 miles ) was covered by thick jungle canopy of tropical forest that provided daytime traffic to be less detectable.
The Kingdom of Laos was being attacked and villages invaded, leaving dead and mutilated civilians as the communists expanded their historic intrusions into Laos territory, while better armed than ever before.
Hundreds of innocent hill tribe causalities occurred, while others were kidnapped and held prisoners by North Vietnamese, while forced into slave labor to construct and repair damage to the " Ho Chi Minh Trail" jungle infiltration corridors leading southward through Laos into South Vietnam.
Laos needed HELP ! Laos asked for help, so we were sent to help.
Waves of well armed communist invaders kept launching attacks, so one response was to recruit & train Laos tribesmen who wanted employment opportunities, who were willing to perform various duties, some to include combat roles, in defense of Laos and such regional shared American interests. . . . . BUT due to some 'restrictive international agreements', such recruitment required allot of 'creativeness', while at the same time without 'unfavorably' exposing those covert operations to adverse international awareness.
The paid arrangements with hill tribesmen also kept some 100,000 NVN soldiers diverted from entering further inside Laos and preventing their full strength from reaching American targets in South Vietnam, hence protecting allied interests in both Laos & SVN.
The recruitment process for paid services was generally easy from eager tribesmen living remote lives where some were impoverishly surviving numerous hardships and weather dependent food crop drought, (US $30. per capita), no medical access except herbal, and faced with dire threats of advancing well armed Vietnamese & Chinese soldiers invading their countryside led by Pathet Lao murdering their neighbors, plundering their villages.
The American experience for Laos also provided formerly unobtainable benefits during that time of war when more was provided by Americans for the peoples in Laos (and elsewhere in Asia / Indonesia / Africa / Middle East / South America) than ever before accomplished in the history of mankind,.... but which still remains an untold history. To mention but a few of these ; Better lifestyles from economic and medical assistance, ...First aid training, ...Higher yielding rice crops, ...Clothing & fabric donated to isolated villages, ...Assistance in irrigation & 'opening' water wells, ... Food drops of grain & rice & caged live farm animals from Air America & 'other origin' aircraft, ... Education classes, ... Relocation of entire endangered villages when the enemy got too close (some 10,000 people relocated by Americans),... Our best FAC, visual & electronic surveillance aircraft / satellite technology,... Even covert weather modification [ 2 ] [ 3 ] to fight the droughts in Laos while hampering enemy North Vietnamese troop movements reaching inland Lao villages,... Herbicides sprayed to remove enemy jungle concealment routes,... Searching for the enemy with Magnetic Anomaly Detectors (MAD)...
America dropped more bombs on Laos enemy targets than on WW-II Nazi Germany, ... And even provided a top secret Electronic Battlefield deploying the most sophisticated computer monitored array of ground sensors covering hundreds of square miles to warn about enemy presence & direction of troop movements,..... and establishing an electronic air-supported anti-personnel barrier system along with Ground surveillance radar along the border infiltration areas to protect the residents of Laos from armed Vietnamese invaders.
From one of those Hmong villages came a barefoot teenager, who would years later become known as ANTI-communist Hmong General Vang Pao, who became the leader of the 'Secret Army', which was later based at Long Tieng (Longtiang), completely surrounded by hills, where regional 'conditions' provided cloud cover & fog on many days, blocking view from Soviet spy satellites.
The 'Secret Army' aided in gathering intelligence, . . . counter-insurgency roles, . . . protected U.S. Navigational Sites that didn't 'officially' exist, . . . Rescued downed American and mercenary pilots, . . . served as 'Trail Watchers' reporting enemy movements, . . . while a 'few' specially trained individuals went along on extremely hazardous deep penetration secret missions inside North Vietnam, China, Cambodia, and 'other international locations' that remain still classified.
Hmong were also trained as Pilots, who flew with the Secret Air Force, which was strategically deployed where needed, while providing an essential defensive wall to thwart the invasion of Laos by enemy forces along the 'Ho Chi Minh Trails'.
NOTE : Excellent zoom-in Topographic maps of Laos (1:250,000)
NOTE : Any known Prisoners of War left behind in South East Asia after Project Homecoming ?
NOTE : Families of missing men continue to suffer. One by one some of the dead return.

For over 50 years the USAF 'Air Commando' brotherhood have maintained a proud �can do� history consistent of the motto : "Any Time - Any Place".
NOTE : U.S.A.F. Air Commando's : Special Operations Command
NOTE : Air Commando Association
NOTE : Ravens

'Secret Air Force' T-28's on Flight line at "Project Water Pump", where their flight Call Sign was "Tiger", but others occasionally also used ; such as "Zorro" (normally assigned to NKP), "Victor" (assigned to Wattay birds), etc.
NOTE : WW-II Japanese Tower in background (left) beside water tank tower (right).
C-46 parked in front of Air America Headquarters for all South Asian / Pacific operations

Restricted Area

Udorn Air Base

N-E Thailand

Love that sound !

NOTE : T-28's were the first American built Counterinsurgency fighter used during the Vietnam War.
Wattay International Airport
Vientiane -(Capital of)- Laos, 1967

NOTE : Soviet aircraft, lower left of photo. Soviets aided 1960 coup d'�tat invasion of Vientiane, flying in Kong Le guerrilla forces.

NOTE : Soviets also flew covert missions from Wattay, dropping guns to Pathet Lao, while our side also flew from Wattay, dropping 'materials' to their Meo (Hmong) victims.

NOTE : Air America in old Civil Air Transport hangar on left, 'B.I. Bird & Sons Co">' hanger outside of view lower left
(SEE : " White Star")

(Site Code : L-32)
Royal Lao Air Force 'designated' T-28's parked at Wattay Air Field, Laos in 1967
NOTE : Tail #'s :

NOTE : Detachable national ID placard on side of aircraft & 'NO' RLAF tail logo :-)

NOTE : Royal Lao Air Force T-28 # 0-00306 following Pathet Lao 1966 sapper attack at Louang Phabang

(Site Code : L-54)

NOTE : RLAF tail logo
50 caliber BMG, 500 lb "Daisy Cutter" bomb & two 250 lb. bombs.
NOTE : Our "Daisy Cutter" Bombs were an invention of an ingenious A.A. employee who grasp the idea during a night of drinking. A day or so later his drinking buddy, RLAF Airman at L.P., gathered the needed materials for the R & D prototype and started welding used aircraft gun barrels directly into the nose fuse cavity of bombs !
NOTE : "Daisy Cutter" bombs explode 'above' ground level to instantly clear an emergency helicopter landing site from dense jungle, or hurriedly eliminate enemy troop concentrations,....hence the nickname.
NOTE : Used Gun Barrels were in short supply, so Water Pipe was 'rounded up' from more modern locations and provided. The welded pipe versions had several adverse effects, such as vibration, pipe weld separation / breakage while in flight and wind drag due to the barrels not being capable of being aligned perfectly, so that phase of development eventually gave way to threaded steel water pipes screwed into the nose cavity of the bombs, leaving only the tail fuse for detonation. This threaded version (see photo) resulted in happier co-workers who were less concerned about meeting their God when the Welder arrived at work.
NOTE : The bombs in 1967 sometimes required lug repositioning etc as they were often from 'old stocks' manufactured during the 1950's Korean War or 1940's World War Two, as were some fuses, and some of those antique bombs simply did not explode with only one fuse installed for "Daisy Cutters" instead of the two normally used.
NOTE : The Air Force liked the "Daisy Cutter" idea and in 1968 came out with the Air Force version, called a "Fuse Extension", which provided the benefits of the nose 'pipe extension effect', allowing the bomb blew up above the ground / mud level, but the USAF version also incorporated a means to screw in a nose fuse, so the dual fused USAF version being mounted on NEW bombs afforded far less potential of any possible detonation failures.
Air America Hqts

NOTE : Secret EB-26 Electronic Warfare aircraft parked in front of Air America's Maintenance Hangers at Udorn in 1967, known as one of "The Company Planes".
"G'Morning, Charlie !"

Hmong Recognition

Hardly anyone knew about the 'secret' sacrifices made in Laos.
Then twenty-two (22) YEARS after America 'officially' abandoned Laos, the Hmong were honored for the 'first time' by our Congressmen during a ceremony on 14 May 1997 at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, where some 3,000 Hmong gathered with representatives from the USAF, CIA and friends.
NOTE : A Friend to and deserving hero of the Hmong : 'Pop' Buell, from Indiana.
NOTE : Today there are some 150,000 Hmong in the U.S.
NOTE : Hmong in America : Their Story and Problems
NOTE : Ancient Hmong : folk tale
NOTE : Talk Hmong : Dictionary
NOTE : Hmong Language : Lessons
NOTE : Hmong Dialects : In South East Asia
NOTE : Hmong-Mien-Khmu / Khmu : In South East Asia
NOTE : Hmong Funeral ("Qhuab Kev") Rites / Ritual PART ONE , PART TWO , [ 3 ] , [ 4 ] ,

We Will Always Remember Laos

Many of us did not want America to leave Laos until all Lao people were safe, but Washington ordered an end to assistance in Laos & South Vietnam.
The Democratic majority in Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act of 1974, which cut off military funding supporting American military objectives and support of allies. By 1975, the Laotian Army and Air Force stood alone against the Communists.
Meanwhile, on 17 April 1975 a sudden Communist Khmer Rouge assult and take over of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which was followed 30 April 1975 by the Fall of Saigon [ 2 ] , South Vietnam to sudden attacks by the Communists, who had formerly agreed to Peace then the bulk of American forces were pulled out. But which was followed by sudden Communist assults in Laos, where on 2 December 1975 the Royal Laos King Savang Vatthana was forced to abdicate his throne ( then later die in captivity) and the Lao People's Democratic Republic was established.
In recent years Americans have been allowed to return, to provide humanitarian aid for refugees & hill tribes of Laos.
We will always remember Laos !


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Lao Pilots : Secret War
A Southeast Asian History

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Please address any kind comments to :
former S. Sgt. Ervin 'Dave' Davis
66-67 'Waterpump' 462
"Any Time, Any Place"
Copyright 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 Ervin Davis, All Rights Reserved


This document was originally published 17 March 1999 and is periodically up-dated .