Hmong vet gets the full military honors he championed

Bla Pao Yang, 74, was an American hero who spent much of his adult life fighting for the right to be recognized.

On Monday, he became the first Hmong veteran in Rochester, Minn., to be accorded full military honors at his funeral, thanks to the congressional bill this year that allowed the same honors for Hmong veterans as U.S. veterans. Hmong veterans fought on behalf of the United States in the secret war in Laos.

“For him to finally get these honors, there’s no words to express that,” daughter Mai Thao told the Rochester Post-Bulletin. “We are so glad that he can be honored properly for his brave service to his country.”

Yang, who was recruited by the CIA, fought in on-ground combat, and helped American soldiers traverse Laos safely, his daughter said.

After the war, he, his wife, and children settled in Rochester where he championed the need for Hmong veterans to be properly recognized.

He loved (Rochester),” Thao said. “It’s a small-town feel, so he’s been here the majority of his life, and now we’re resting him here.”

She said it’s fitting he was the first in Rochester to be properly honored.

“We know that this is a great honor, and it would make him very proud,” Thao told the PB. “All his years of advocacy have paid off and the other brothers that fought alongside him will now have the same honor.”

  • Mike Worcester

    The topic of Hmong veterans is one that so many folks are unaware of. I highly recommend A Great Place To Have A War: America In Laos And The Birth of The Military CIA. For those who may not know the story, it will definitely be an eye opener.

  • MrE85

    I’m glad many of the Hmong veterans got into the United States before it lost its mind, soul and heart.

    • Joseph

      Although, from what I’m reading, 30’ish years ago, many Hmong (in general) were facing similar vitriol to what the Somali (and other immigrants) face now 🙁

      • jon

        Anyone know how the Hmong feel about the current type of vitriol they receive and if it’s an improvement from the earlier years?

      • Jack

        People tend to pick on the newest group. Irish were once the “bad” group.

  • Margauxjizzy

    Finally, a well deserved honor for our Hmong compatriots!