Despite having grown up as farmers without a formal education, Hmong pilots learned quickly, flew as many as 10 sorties a day, and earned the admiration of the CIA, pilots, and crews in Air America. Countless lives were saved by these pilots who limited the incursion of enemy forces in Laos. These pilots, trained by the American CIA, flew thousands of sorties combating the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao communist forces. Most flew 5 or 6 missions per day, while others flew up to 10 missions daily. Their job was to prevent the movement of troops and supplies through neutral Laos into South Vietnam. The first pilots were Lee Lue and Vang Toua, both of whom were decorated for valor and died in combat.
Stories of the flying skills of these young flyers are legend among combat aviators. Their boldness and lion-hearted fearlessness in defending their families and homeland are an important part of the history of the war in Vietnam. They, along with tens of thousands of Hmong soldiers who died in combat, are the true testament and reason why we are committed to making this monument a reality.