'[Vang Pao] was tough in a tough country. He deserves to die in peace'

Letters may be edited for clarity and length. E-mail to, or send to Letters to the Editor, c/o OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or fax to (714) 550-5908.

The following letter is in response to Greg Stacy's April 19 story, "Don Bolles Keeps His Nose Clean," about the legendary Germs drummer being busted for driving with soap.

I play music with this guy, and he's an amazing person. And unequivocally, the West Coast's equivalent to a Ramone! Glad you paid mind to this story. And yeah, it was funny, in a sick kinda way! We hope the best for him. Thanks again for caring.
via e-mail

I loved your review of the Griffin show [Greg Stacy's "Good Vibrations," July 5]. Really great style and such a cool angle to launch your review (the punk-eye take). Love the part where you said you can taste the line and smell the design, or something like that. Anyway, thanks for writing something original, well-thought-out and clever instead of rehashing the press release. Gnarly.
via e-mail

This next slew of letters respond to Nick Schou's July 5 article "The General's Last Stand," detailing the struggles of Vang Pao, a Hmong general devoted to fighting communism in Laos until his arrest by the U.S. government.

Your article about Vang Pao was quite well-written. I knew him in Laos while flying there. He was tough in a tough country. He deserves to die in peace, remembering what his life was and what he did to help those who were there.
Kirk McFarlin
via e-mail

I was an Air America helicopter pilot in Laos from 1968 to 1974. I was always embarrassed at the way we deserted the Hmong people at the end of the SEA [South East Asia] war. Our politicians should hang their heads in shame. However, how you could give any credability to Alfred McCoy and his hippie drivel in an otherwise well-written history of the time mystifies me. Otherwise, the article was accurate, as I remember those days, and I wish the Hmong that want to return home all the best. Sad to say they need to understand our politicians as a whole are never going to help them realize this dream. Were it in my power, I would go back to SEA tomorrow and do whatever possible to atone to these people for the broken promises our government made to them for their support. An ugly period in our history.
Duane Keele
via e-mail

The portrayal of Vang Pao as an opium-trafficking-and-processing mastermind are totally absurd. Vang Pao was actively pushing his soldiers and right behind his troops at the front line. He helped with artillery firing. Always making sure his troops did effective jobs; if not, he urged them to do so. He sent condolences to people whose beloved ones perished. He comforted his injured soldiers in hospitals and sometimes ate just one meal a day. He may have ordered someone killed who posed a threat to his network, just like the U.S. executes terrorists. He did not have time to do any opium processing, even if he had a lab.
via e-mail

The following letter is in response to Nick Schou's June 14 article "Hero or Heroin?" discussing Vang Pao's alleged involvement in the South East Asian heroin trade. The article made reference to Alfred W. McCoy's book on the subject titled
The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade.

Forty years ago, anyone could write anything about the Hmong, and we would just sit there silently because we could not read or write. For some time now, the Hmong community has sat silently as uninformed people like you and McCoy wagged your hypercritical fingers. McCoy has accused Vang Pao of running a heroin factory and committing unspeakable war acts. All of these accusations come from a man who never stepped foot in Laos until the war was nearly over. Contrary to what you wrote, McCoy did not spend years in Laos. He was there for a few weeks as the war was winding down. McCoy has been so busy condemning Vang Pao that he has failed to realize that Vang Pao was no more than a puppet whose master was none other than the good old USA. Vang Pao's only crime is that he danced to the tune of the CIA, and to McCoy's chagrin, he danced it very well. Let us take a look at who is the real culprit behind this atrocity.

Vang Pao came to power in 1960, when, as a soldier's soldier, he was courted by the U.S. government to halt the spread of communism. The U.S. feared, whether real or imaginary, that communism was about to dominate the world and Laos would be the key. This led a few men in the highest positions of the U.S. government to violate the laws of this nation, the Neutrality Act, Title 18, Section 960, by providing and furnishing money for a military expedition in the sovereign nation of Laos, with whom the U.S. was at peace.

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