John B. Sayavong’s Story

I fully agreed with those former Laotian officers; Major Khao Insixiengmay, Major Chantho Vorasarn and many others in regards to H.R.3018.

There was not only “Hmong” who helped the CIA fought the ennemies and helped rescued down plane US pilots during Vietnam war or secret war in Laosespecially in the 2nd Military region which is based in Longtieng (LS-20-A).

Let me briefly introduce myself and my back ground, my name is John B. Sayavong, my previous name before I become a US naturalization was Boun Chanh Sayavong. I am now retired from 25 years of service with Orange County Social Services Agency. I was a former Lao Air Force 1st lieutenant fighter pilot T-28, stationed at Longtieng (LS-20-A) 2nd military region, under the commander of General Vang Pao, recruited by CIA with other Hmongs’ pilots from 1968 to 1975 and I was only one native of Khmu who become a pilot during that period of time.

One year before I went to Thailand to learn how to fly and to become a pilot, I was a news Anchorman, broadcasted in my native dialect “Khmu” at Lao huam phao radio station in Longtieng. “Lao huam phao” means “Lao dialect unity” because at that time Longtieng had so many dialects or you can say many tribes such as; Hmong, Iu Mien, Khmu, Thai Dam, Thai Phouan, Thai Deng etc. and each tribe speaks its own dialect. Hmong tribe had more population compare to the other tribes and Khmu was the second after Hmong, This was only at the 2nd military region at Longtieng at the time, so you can see that was a small sign showing that there was not only Hmong tribe working and helping the CIA at that time.

I went to Thailand to learn how to fly with my other classmates (Hmong), we first learned how to fly Piper Supercub then Cessana 180 which both kind of air planes were very old planes and then me and my three other Hmong classmates were sent to Huahin, Bofay airport in Prachuab Srikhanh province, because there was a Civil Aviation training center there in Thailand and to learn how to fly a multi-engine airplane such as Beach Craft Baron for preparing to fly a bigger airplane C-47,C-123 (Caribu) and to further becoming a transportation pilot and to serve the country, but during that time the 2nd military region which Samthong (LS-20) the home base office of Pop Buel and his staff and the famous Hospital in the region (Senesouk Hospital) was already occupied by the ennemies and Longtieng which the main based for the 2nd Military region was almost occupied by the ennemies (NeoLao hak sat ) as well, so there was a heavy war going on and pilots were badly in need to help the ground troups to fight and bomb to destroy the ennemies troups and targets, so General Vang Pao ordered us to go back to Udorn to learn how to fly T-28 a fighter planewhich was a small propeller plane but enable to carry rockets, guns (12.7mm) (CBU) cluster bomb unit, 250/500 lbs bombs and napalm depending on what the targets needed to be destroyed.

After six months of training then we were graduated, total pilots who were graduated in my promotion were 18 total, including six (6) Hmong pilots, one Khmu (me) and the rest were Lao low lander pilots.

Hmong pilots from 2nd military region were sent by CIA under the commander of General Vang Pao, for Lao low lander, they were sent by the Royal Lao Air Force. Before Lao Pilots were sent to Thailand they were trained how to fly Cessana 150 in Savannakhet due to the Lao Airforce training center was there in Savannakheth ( LIMA-39 ), the 3rd military region under the commander of General Nouphet Dao Heuang, but for Hmong pilots, they were sent to learn how to fly the small plane first such as; Cessana 180 Piper Supercub at Udorn AFB at Khonkaen airport and at Nam Phong airport in Khonkaen province, most American who served and worked in Thailand during that time should know where these locations were. There were two or three big American Airforce base in Thailand at that time such as; Outaphao AFB, Udorn AFB and Khorat.

Now let’s go back to Longtieng (LS-20-A), some people spell ( Long Cheng ) which was the same. As I mentioned above, Longtieng had so many tribes many dialects and there was a heavy war going on during 1968 to 1974, so many tribes were recruited to become soldiers, I was able to witness that some soldiers were as young  as 13 yrs old barely to be able to carry M-16 and their height were about the same height as the M-16 (you know asian boy is very small compare to American). All Army and Airforce servicemen were working very hard with danger and they don’t even know if they will be survived on the next day as they worked and live each day due to they were surrounded by the ennemies. Many people got killed and also many were injured and become disable, I, myself was shot down by the ennemies during my mission of dropping bombs near Phou Phaxay far east from Longtieng about 15 to 20 Kilometers. I was bailed out and felt on the ennemy’s side and later on the next day, I was rescued by our friend ly troup who came with a chopper belt and I was sent to military hospital in Sokpaluong, Vientiane, Laos and one month later, I was sent to Phramongkout Klao hospital in Bang kok,Thailand due to the incident I lost my right eye.

Many Americans who did the service in Laos should be able to witness that there were many different tribes joined in each troup and in each battalion  in any branches of services in the 2nd military region. There were not only Hmong men fought and helped the CIA as per say and those American servicemen that I still remember their names are as follows:

  • Pop Buel
  • Blen Johnson
  • Tony Poe
  • Jerry Daniel
  • John Tucker
  • Bill Lair
  • Charles Weldon
  • Don Dougan
  • Stand Monie
  • Steve Schofield

And there were still many more that I don’t remember, of course it was over 30 years now and some of them may have been death or deceased.

Besides SGU which included many tribes helped the CIA fought the ennemies during that period of time, there were still many soldiers from Royal Lao Arm Forces worked side by side with the SGU.In the 2nd military region and their leader was Brigadier general Tiao Manivong kindavong and many other high ranking officers and those high ranking officers in the rank of Colonel that I rember were as follows:

  • Col. Kham Houng Pravong Vieng Kham
  • Col. Ana May
  • Col. Douang Ta Norasing
  • Col. Khan Kab
  • Col. Tou
  • Col. Boua Loy

And there were some other Lt. Col. and Majors which I am not going to mentioned their names at this time.

Now let’s go back to SGU side for a moment, there were so many high Hmong ranking officers in the 2nd military region during 1968 to 1975 there were about  25 Colonels all were Hmong and there were about 30 Lt.Colonel and only one out of 30 was Khmu, during the war in Laos if you were a high ranking officer, you were in the back in the safe place, most of the time the first class and low ranking soldiers were the people who were at the front line, where there was at risk and very dangerous. If you look at the number’s above, who were the most people at the front line where there was at risk at danger? So, you can see there were not many Khmu came to the USA. Based on what I and others have been observed was that, they either had no money or no way to flee the country at that time, and one other thing was that some of the Khmu soldiers who have been worked side by side with the Hmong soldiers under commander of General Vang Pao didn’t want to follow General Vang Paoany more due to un-equal treament of the General. As I mentioned above, there was none Khmu who was promoted to Colonel and the reason was unknown and those Hmong soldiers who were promoted to high ranking officers, most of them were promoted by General Vang Pao not the Royal Lao Army commander under the Lao regime government.

So Those Khmu people wound up to stay behind in Laos and continued to do slash and burn cultivation in the mountain areas due to unable to afford to buy land or farms that were close to cities or town where there were no UXO and they wound up to be the most people who are effected with the unexplode bombs (UXO) that were left over from the secret war or Vietnam warand seems like they were the unlucky people no matter where they were or where they are; USA goverment didn’t recognize them, regime Royal Lao goverment didn’t see them and while working side by side with Hmong soldiers (SGU) to help the CIA and to fight the ennemy in the second military region, they were received unequal treatment, so please! any one, please help them at least clear-up and remove the unexplode ordinance (UXO), so they can have a small piece of land that is safe to work on, to plant some rice and vegetables to feed their children which they were long due deserve to be treated equally as a human being.

4 thoughts on “John B. Sayavong’s Story

  1. Hello I am researching the story and background of Tony Poe CIA in Laos and would welcome any feedback or contacts.

    Richard Gough.

  2. Your life style at the time was amazing and yet very complicated because of the war. I am happy for you that you had made it this far and able to reside and eventually retired in the United
    States. My father was in service as well but I don’t know much about him due to his death three months before I was born. You probably knew who he was. Life was extremely rough for my mother in Laos at the time. Congratulation for your retirement.

    Regard,
    Derrick (Vath) Tempraseut Sr.

  3. Sabaidee Ai John Sayavong:

    Thank you very much for sharing your personal information. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for what you have done
    for our beloved country. Your story is very true and gives me a lot of flash back when I was in Laos.

    Sincerely

    HP

  4. I am really sorry that I’ve not reply to any one due to I lost my own copy and I just got it from LANA thank you all for your comment, Derrick ye knew your daddy as matter of fact when they brought his body in the plastic bag from front line I was there at your mom’s house at Long tieng/Longcheng he was a good friend of my uncle my mom’s younger brother Thao Ta they both were in the plane of jar Phonesavanh in 1959 my mom and I went to visit them at that year.

    Howard Thank you very much for your comment and thank you for sharing your thought

    Richard Gough I suggest that you read the book by the name of ” Tears across Mekong ‘ written by Marc Phillip Yablonka and published by The Figueroa press there in that book it was mentioned about Tony Poe you may contact Marc Yablonka him self at www_navigator_books.com

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