About 100 veterans including members of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 423 posthumously honored the service of Say Chao Thao last month in a ceremony in Lynnwood, Wash. Thao was a member of the CIA’s secret Hmong army that worked the Ho Chi Minh Trail to hinder North Vietnam’s supply line, conduct air strikes and rescue downed U.S. pilots during the Vietnam War.
Veterans presented Thao’s 31-year-old nephew, Yee Hang Vang, with a flag. Vang was the first of his family to be born in the United States, and said his uncle served with the CIA’s force from about 1967–1975. After Saigon fell to the North Vietnamese, Thao helped many of his fellow Hmong escape genocide.
Thao died in 2017 at age 70. “He served with humbleness,” Vang told the Everett, Wash., Herald. “I’m forever grateful for his service. I wouldn’t be here if not for him.”