Murkowski: Hmong “Stealth Heroes” Deserve Final Resting Place They Earned

Senator’s Bill Aims to Bury Hmong Allies Beside American Brothers-in-Arms

Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced bipartisan legislation this week to honor America’s dedicated Vietnam War-era allies: the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act.   The bill would allow members of the Hmong Special Guerilla Unit (SGU) who conducted support missions for American forces during Vietnam to be buried in national cemeteries.

6,000 Hmong-Americans – including a sizeable number living in Alaska – are veterans who put their lives on the line alongside Americans, and Murkowski has advocated for their burial rights for years.  Interring foreign-born servicemen in national cemeteries is not without precedent. The Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 permitted Philippine veterans who helped America’s cause in World War II to be buried in national cemeteries.  Murkowski’s legislation would tie eligibility for burial rights to Hmong-Americans who were naturalized for their contribution to the United States’ war efforts.

(Senator Murkowski visits with Hmong-Americans, including Pasert Lee from Alaska, in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.)

“Hmong-Americans who fought and risked their lives in secret for America deserve the same public respect and honor we give the men they served with and rescued,” said Murkowski.  “There are thousands of these Hmong stealth heroes living in the United States now, and this bill would give them the opportunity to be buried with their brothers-in-arms in national cemeteries.”

The bill is also being co-sponsored by Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

Background:  During the Vietnam War, the CIA conducted covert operations in Laos utilizing thousands of Hmong volunteers – a minority group persecuted by communists in their home country – who conducted stealth operations and crossed enemy lines to save pilots downed by Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire.  Over 35,000 (of 100,000 total) Hmong lost their lives in connection to U.S. involvement in Vietnam.