NLHMF Board Member Highlight: Yang Chee

Honoring the Unsung Heroes: Yang Chee's Journey from the US Secret War in Laos to Advocacy in America


In the tranquil mountains of Laos, amidst the lush greenery, Yang Chee took his first breaths. Little did he know that this would be woven into the intricate tapestry of history, marked by courage, sacrifice, and unwavering dedication. Today, he stands as a beacon of hope and resilience, not just for the Lao-Hmong community but for all those who seek to honor the forgotten Lao-Hmong heroes of the past.
Yang Chee's journey began with humble roots and a thirst for intriguing knowledge. Educated at the University of Dong Dok, English Section, Laos, he embarked on a path that would lead him to unforeseen territories as a professor of English at the College of Vang Vieng.
Yang Chee's life took a dramatic turn when he found himself serving occasionally as a special intelligence agent for Case Officer, Jerry (Hog) Daniels of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Lao-Hmong Special Guerrilla Units (SGU), known as America's most loyal allies and staunchest anti-communist forces of the U.S. Secret War in Laos during the Vietnam War. 
The year 1975 brought tumultuous changes as Laos fell to the communist regime, plunging tens of thousands of Lao-Hmong SGU and their families into a harrowing exodus to Thailand as refugees. Amidst the chaos, Yang Chee emerged as  a guiding light, working tirelessly as a multi-language interpreter/translator for the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, including Mr. Lionel Rosenblatt and Jerry (Hog) Daniels. His noble efforts helped successfully process the eligibility of over 9000 Lao and Hmong refugees to come to the United States of America.
On June 16, 1976,Yang Chee with his wife and a young brother left Thailand for the USA and arrived in Denver, Colorado, as refugees seeking solace in a land unknown. Determined to carve a new path, he pursued higher education, earning a Bachelor's Degree from Antioch University and a Master's Degree from the University of Denver. His journey led him to IBM in 1997, where he honed his skills and embraced new challenges. He took an early retirement from IBM in 2000 at the age of 47 with a passion to voluntarily devote his time, financial resources and energy to educate the general public about the US Secret War in Laos and
the Lao-Hmong people's cause.
But Yang Chee's true calling lay in honoring the unsung heroes of the "US Secret War". In 1995, as Chairman of the American Tribute Committee, he orchestrated the first-ever U.S. recognition of the Lao-Hmong SGU veterans and their families in Golden, Colorado. This historic landmark laid the groundwork for his subsequent endeavors, including the founding of the Lao-Hmong American Coalition (LHAC) as the "parent" organization, a bastion of revitalization and support for the Lao-Hmong SGU veterans and their families.
Yang Chee's advocacy knows no bounds to elevating the "status" of the Lao-Hmong people, the SGU veterans and widows of deceased SGU from refugees and permanent residents to "US naturalized citizens" making them "Stand Tall With Dignity" across the nation. From the state to the Federal Governments, he has tirelessly championed the cause of the Lao-Hmong SGU veterans, ensuring that their loyalty, patriotic services and personal sacrifices are never forgotten. His unwavering commitment finds expression in his dream of a sacred National Lao-Hmong Memorial established by genuinely empathetic and concerned US born citizens. This memorial is in solemn honor of all those who served and lost their lives (35,000 SGU of MR 2 and over 727 American servicemen), as a true testament of justice to the resilience and fortitude of America's surrogates long overlooked.  
As a Board Member and Historical Advisor for the National Lao-Hmong Memorial Foundation, Yang Chee brings to the table a wealth of expertise and insight. His role is not just to document history, but to breathe life into the stories of those who fought in the shadows and rejuvenate their bravery that is often overshadowed by the passage of time.
Yang Chee's achievements speak volumes about his dedication to the cause. From organizing the Congressionally Proclaimed July 22 National Lao-Hmong Recognition Day celebrations to advocating policy reforms in Washington D.C., his impact reverberates far and wide. Challenges have been aplenty, from navigating political landscapes to dispelling false narratives, but through it all, Yang Chee has remained steadfast in his resolve.
Reflecting on his journey, Yang Chee offers sage advice: Respect, loyalty and friendship were the pillars that upheld the diverse community during the US Secret War, and they remain the guiding principles for building a brighter future.
In honoring Yang Chee, we not only pay tribute to a remarkable individual but also to the indomitable spirit of a community that refuses to be silenced. As we stand on the precipice of a new era, let us remember the sacrifices of the past and strive for a future where every hero, no matter how hidden, is celebrated and remembered.
Thank you for all your contributions, Yang Chee! 

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