FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 14, 2014
Contact: Senator Jerry Petrowski
Senator Petrowski Brings Together Hmong Leaders with Governor Walker to Honor Wisconsin’s Hmong and Lao Veterans
Madison, WI… A few weeks ago, Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) met with over 40 Hmong people from across the state as well as Governor Walker to discuss a proposed museum exhibit honoring Wisconsin’s Hmong and Lao veterans. Senator Petrowski has been working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos, the Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Veterans Museum and others over the past year to create an exhibit that would highlight the great sacrifice made by the Hmong and Lao people during the Vietnam War.
“Thousands of Hmong and Lao veterans have died without the recognition of their incredible sacrifice made during the Vietnam War. Long before they were citizens of this country, they fought and died side-by-side with U.S. troops to protect and defend American ideals. During the war, these soldiers would risk their lives to save American pilots who had been shot down by enemy fire and hide them from the communist forces. It is important to remember and honor the Special Guerilla Forces and make sure their sacrifices receive proper recognition,” said Senator Petrowski.
Prior to the Vietnam War, the United States government recruited tens of thousands of Hmong and Lao people to fight against invading military forces from North Vietnam and communist Pathet Lao insurgents in what was known as the Secret War. During the Vietnam War, these Hmong and Lao soldiers, known as the Special Guerilla Forces, fought alongside U.S. troops. The Special Guerilla Forces were responsible for cutting off the supply line along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and rescuing and protecting American soldiers, among other tactical operations to assist American forces.
After the Communists took over Laos in 1975, Hmong and Lao people were singled out for retribution and more than 100,000 Hmong and Lao refugees fled to the United States. As political refugees, they could apply for citizenship, but those who fought were not recognized as military veterans.
“We thank Senator Petrowski for taking the lead on this very important project for the Hmong people of Wisconsin. Most importantly, this project will help to recognize the service and sacrifice of the Hmong who fought alongside U.S. troops in Vietnam. Having this exhibit will not only educate the public about the Hmong story, but also preserve our history for future generations,” said Xiong Lo of Wausau, Wisconsin.
The new exhibit entitled “Special Guerilla Forces: Honoring Hmong/Lao Veterans” at the Veteran’s Museum will honor General Vang Pao, the commander of the Secret Army during the 1960’s and 70’s. The exhibit will also include military paraphernalia used by Hmong and Lao people, recordings of veterans sharing their oral history, and video exhibits explaining the role of the Special Guerilla Forces in the Secret War.