APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) – Vietnam War Veterans had an opportunity to share their stories with students at Appleton West High School.
‘Reflections of Vietnam’ has been going on all school year, with veterans presenting to and talking with students at schools all over northeast Wisconsin.
For the first time, Hmong veterans were part of the program. Their role in the Vietnam War is less talked about in history classes so the goal was to give the Hmong veterans an opportunity to tell their stories.
“Seeing the same things that I’ve heard stories about right in front of me and being able to talk to people about it it’s been gratifying and I love the experience,” said Brain Voetberg, who is a junior at Appleton West High School.
The CIA recruited Hmong soldiers to fight against Communist insurgencies in Laos.
When the war ended and the American soldiers left, Communist forces took over Laos. Fearing retaliation because they had fought against the Communist forces in the war, many Hmong left their country and many ended up in the United States.
Hmong soldiers died at a rate 10 times higher than American soldiers in the war.
“Doing the Vietnam War is very important to us because we don’t like the Communists,” said Nao Shoua Xiong, who is a Hmong Vietnam War veteran.
Hmong veterans had the opportunity to chat with students about their role in the war. The ‘Reflections of Vietnam’ program also included an extensive display of Vietnam War pictures, uniforms, and other artifacts used by American and Hmong soldiers during the war.
For the Hmong veterans, it was an opportunity to tell their stories.
“We want to keep our culture our history and our nation in the future,” said Xiong.
“It’s something that we don’t learn a lot about and being able to see actual veterans and talk to them especially on the underrepresented side is awesome,” explained Voetberg.