RLA Attend a Monument Dedication to Lao War Veterans

image2Members from the Royal Lao Airborne attended a monument dedication to Lao War Veterans in Elgin, Illinois on July 19, 2014. With national pride for the countries of Laos and United States, distinguished Lao American Veterans stood tall as they were recognized and honored for their courage and loyalty serving in the “Secret Wars” during the Vietnam War era. The soldiers and their families were filled with emotions, and deeply appreciated the respect, dignity and honor that acknowledged their loyalty and service to the US and to the Royal Lao Military. With this memorial, the spirit of courage, loyalty and friendship is forever cemented, remembered and celebrated by both the Lao and American peoples.

The Royal Lao Airborne Commander Major General Khambang Sibounheuang, along with other RLA members, was honored to attend this event and cherished reuniting with old comrades in arms to reminisce about their exploits. They also got the opportunity to meet US Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth; a highly decorated combat veteran, having served as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in the Ilinois Army National Guard. When Iraqi insurgents shot down her chopper with an RPG, Mrs Duckworth lost both legs and suffered grievous injuries to her right arm. They also got to meet with Senator Micheal Noland, and Major General Khambang Sibounheuang was honored to present his book “Spirit of White Dragon Two” to the Senator. Check out the photos below.

 

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Congressman Jim Cooper meets with RLA Staff

Congressman Cooper meeting

L to R: Major General Amos Hykes, Congressman Jim Cooper, Capt. Steve Revis, Major General Khambang Sibounheuang,.

A meeting to end the suffering of the people hunted and killed by the Communists in Laos. Most people in Laos live on under $1.00 a day and have no hope. Like this post and help free these people. Congressman Cooper is a great American and a man of action.

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1st Support Company Assist in Lowry Rodeo

Lowry RodeoThe Royal Lao Airborne 1st Support Company helped support the North Chester Fire Department and the Chester County Community with security and traffic control at the annual Lowrys High School Rodeo Event held on the 11th and 12th of April 2014 in Chester, South Carolina .

The event which is hosted by the North Chester Fire Department helps raise funds for the Fire Department and provides entertainment to the Chester County residents. This was the 9th year that this event has been held. Participants in the rodeo come from numerous states and use transport including mobile homes with livestock trailers and semi-tractor trailers, 1st Support Company provided security for the Rodeo, the participants equipment and livestock . Also 1st Support Company maintained traffic control for both Chester County residents coming to enjoy the event and the participants in the Rodeo.

1SGT Chris Mckeown said ” The Rodeo Event was a great success and went off without a hitch and without any incidents. This is good experience and training for the troops in the RLA and 1st Support Company to learn to work with the public and government agencies, while also learning proper procedures in security and traffic control and working as a team.”

Chief Billy Brakefield of the North Chester Fire Dept said “On behalf of the North Chester Fire Department, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Royal Lao Airborne for your recent participation in the Lowrys Rodeo. With your professionalism and efficiency the rodeo was a success and we are very grateful for your service. Thank you again and if we can ever be of assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.”

Below is a few photos from the event.

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MSG Khonesavanh Latsombath – Obituary

 KhongOn Tuesday, March 11 2014, the Royal Lao Airborne suffered the tragic loss of MSG Khonesavanh Latsombath – better known to all of us simply as Khon.

 MSG Khonesavanh was born in Laos on June 6, 1956. He served his country during the Secret War in Laos during the Vietnam war. Despite a grave wound to the back of the head, he survived and continued to help his fellow countrymen up until the day of his death. He served as a soldier and military medic under our own MG Khambang Sibounheuang during the Secret War. After the Communist Pathet Lao and Vietnamese took over Laos, MSG Khonesavanh moved to Rochester NY, along with his wife and sons.

MSG Khonesavanh was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America, Lao Savannakhet Association of Tennessee, Royal Lao Airborne Association, Unified Service Command, and US Joint Force Multiplier Command. He was also an Associate Member of Special Forces, and a former member of Tennessee State Guard. I think most of us will remember him best, however, for serving as the tireless military aid and personal bodyguard of Major General Khambang Sibounheuang. The two were also the closest of friends, with each having utmost respect for the abilities of the other. MSG Khonesavanh followed and served his beloved General around the world, including trips to China, Cambodia, Canada, and many other far-flung locales. MSG Khonesavanh passed away just one day after making the long trek back from South Carolina to Tennessee, following a Royal Lao Airborne drill weekend in Anderson. Despite the fact that he missed his homeland deeply, I challenge any of you to recall an RLA drill weekend during which MSG Khonesavanh failed to share a warm smile with the troops.

 MSG Khonesavanh is survived by two sons and three grand-daughters.

 The funeral will be held Sunday March 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm..
Location:
Phillips Robertson Funeral Home
2707 Gallatin Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37216

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Amos Hykes Promoted to MG

MG Amos Hykes

MG Amos Hykes

On February 8, 2014 Amos Hykes was promoted to the rank of Major General. MG Hykes is the Deputy Commanding General of the Royal Lao Airborne. MG Hykes has been instrumental to the growth of the RLA, not only in membership numbers but also through the addition of numerous Companies located throughout North America.

MG Hykes has been vital in bringing to fruition the Royal Lao Airborne Military Academy, which helps train the RLA to be ready to provide support during catastrophic events that may come up around the globe, both man-made and natural disasters.

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Royal Lao Airborne February Promotions

Promotion List for The Royal Lao Airborne in the month of February 2014.

 Amos Hykes to Major General

Bufford Compton to Lieutenant Colonel

Claire Mensack to Lieutenant Colonel

John Guffey to Lieutenant Colonel

James Maddox to Lieutenant Colonel

Nivanah Thoume to Major

Wilton Mauldin to Captain

Claude Thomas Lee to Staff Sergeant

Saykorn Kannika to Sergeant

Kevin Compton to Corporal

Dakota Musselman to PFC

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Royal Lao Airborne Veterans Banquet

Written by Gilbert Scales
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 00:00
Eli-Chevez-GrenadeThe 11th Annual Royal Lao Airborne Banquet was held September 28, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Greenville.   The Banquet was hosted by Major General Khambang Sibounheuang, who resides in Tennessee and Brigadier General Amos Hykes from Greenville.  Members traveled in from all over the US and Canada.  Not only was it an opportunity to rekindle old friendships but to remember some of the events which occurred in Laos during the Vietnam War.The Colors were presented by members of American Legion Post # 3, who served during the Vietnam War. The color guard also carried the Flag of Laos and the Royal Lao Airborne Flag.The guest speaker was Mr. Eli Chevez, who recently retired from the Central Intelligence Agency. After serving as a LTC in the 82nd Airborne, Mr. Chevez was recruited by the CIA.  In 1971, Mr. Chevez was transferred to Laos and placed in command of a four Battalion Guerilla organization comprised of Lao soldiers. He and his Command were involved in significant battles at Skyline Ridge against the North Vietnamese.  Although they were outnumbered and suffered high casualties, they were successful in taking Skyline Ridge.   Many of the veterans of this action were present at the Banquet. In recognition of his leadership, Mr. Chevez was awarded the “Intelligent Star” Award for Valor in 1974.The Royal Lao Airborne in the US was founded on September 3, 2001. From it’s beginnings in the 1950’s through today, the RLA has been, and will continue to be, a group of professionals who exhibit military bearing, hold true the core values and who put others before themselves.

It is supported by, and all Airborne Certifications are signed by, His Majesty, the Royal Lao Crown Prince. Royal Lao Parachute Wings are also on the DOD list of approved foreign awards. (FM 600-8-22, Appendix D, dated 16 NOV 2011.)

The mission of the Royal Lao Airborne is:

• Preserve the fame and glory of the Royal Lao Airborne

• Provide military training assistance to the US Armed Forces

• Provide humanitarian aid to Lao refugees

• Assist FEMA in disaster-related activities

It is also charged to maintain and strengthen the bonds of comradeship, which distinguish the members of the Royal Lao Airborne, to continue to develop the bond between current and past Airborne forces of the world, to provide for the gathering and dissemination of information concerning those members.

It also administers the Billy Ewing Raider Scholarship program for those seeking jump qualification. The Royal Lao Airborne is strictly non-political.

 

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Royal Laotian Parachutists over S.C.

by W. THOMAS SMITH, JR. June 30, 2010

 

“Get out!” jumpmaster Ronny Alley shouted at me as I sat crunched down in the so-called hot-seat of a packed Cessna 182 single-engine aircraft now throttling back to about 85 miles-per-hour some 3,500 feet above the surface of the earth.
At least I think that’s what Alley said.
It’s hard to remember his exact words, just my immediate, instinctive exit out of the plane; my feet fighting the wind as they made their way onto the landing-gear cover, my hands grasping the diagonal wing strut.
This was not the first time I had jumped out of an airplane (nor my first time in the hot-seat – first man out the door, this time at my request): I had skydived in the late 1970’s as a civilian – that too was in a Cessna – then military jumps in the 1980’s, leaping out of everything from C-123 and C-130 cargo props to a C-141 transport jet.
But this jump, Saturday, June 19, was different, and frankly a bit more unnerving on the front-end of the jump than any other.
In this jump, I was not only climbing out of the aircraft, but pulling myself far enough up on the strut – away from the fuselage right where the strut connects to the wing – that my feet had to leave the wheel cover.
In other words, I was hanging onto the airplane with my bare hands while my legs where flying behind me: I know it sounds almost like a stuntman move (harkening back to the days of barnstorming and flying circuses), but it was a jump-technique I learned that we would be required to make – with some nervous amusement – about an hour before take-off.
Increasing this sensory overload was the fact that Alley – a former U.S. Army Special Forces operator and current contract-soldier with at least 5,000 military and sport jumps under his belt and literally more bullet holes in his body than one might count on two hands – expected me to now look back into the aircraft where he would either give me a green light to let go of the strut, or a red light to try and make my way back into the plane if he saw something wrong with my rig.
I looked.
Alley was shouting something.
But between the low-throttling engine and the rush of wind, I had no idea what he was saying, but I saw he was smiling, so I figured it was a green light.
I released my grip, simultaneously arching my body into a perfect freefall position, and plummeted to the earth, shooting past and below the aircraft for what seemed like two to three seconds before the static line began pulling the chute out of the rig.
Within seconds, there was a jerk, and then the familiar flutter of fabric overhead; this time a rectangular ram-air parachute – as opposed to the old round T-10 and MC1-1 Bravo canopies from my past life as a military parachutist.
A quick thanks to God for a good exit from the plane and a perfect canopy above me as I reached for my toggle (steering) lines, pulled them down to my knees, then back above my head, followed by a series of left and right turns to check maneuverability. Then a ground control operator began communicating maneuvering-instructions to me through a radio strapped to my chest next to my altimeter.
The first thing I noticed was how fast this system was; it was far faster in terms of forward speed and more maneuverable than any rig I had ever jumped.
In about three minutes or so – it’s hard to gauge time in that adrenaline-induced environment – I was para-flying into a huge grassy field between two runways at Anderson Regional Airport in Anderson, S.C. near the Georgia border.
Accuracy with this rig was amazing, but I came in a bit too fast, and I didn’t flair the canopy enough prior to impact to keep from landing in a cloud of dust – “crashing and burning” as we used to call it. But for a 51-year-old former U.S. Marine rifleman and an Army trained parachutist, I felt any jump you can walk away from without injury is a successful jump. And my landing on this day – though hot – was hardly a “crash and burn.”
Moments after landing, Maj. Gen. Khambang Sibounheuang, a former Laotian Army commando officer wearing the green beret and emblem of a French Foreign Legionnaire, hustled out to where I was gathering up my canopy, removed the Laotian parachute wings from his own chest and pinned them on me. It was an unexpected honor – even more appreciated since I’ve begun reading his book, “WHITE DRAGON TWO: A Royal Laotian Army Commando’s Escape from Laos” – then he helped me gather my gear for the victory walk back to the hangar.
The Kingdom of Laos – which is where we get “Royal Laotian” – fell to the Pathet Lao communists in 1975. But the free Royal Laotian Diaspora continues to exist worldwide, and the Royal Laotian Airborne continues through the grace of Crown Prince Soulivong Savang and Gen. Khambang, who serves as president of the Royal Laotian Airborne Association in the U.S.
Royal Laotian Airborne wings are among the many foreign jump wings earned and worn by U.S. military forces and state defense forces.
“A rare honor [the General’s pinning his wings on another],” says Col. Amos Hykes, director of training for the S.C. State Guard and a member of the newly formed elite U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team (USCTAT). “I’ve known Gen. KB [Khambang] for over 10 years, and he’ll do anything for you, but that’s the first time I’ve seen him do that.”
The jump itself and the wing-pinning were part of my earning the wings of a Royal Laotian Army parachutist, a unique program that includes fast-track training by some of the most experienced skydivers in the world, followed by five qualifying jumps, and it’s all done either in the U.S. or Canada.
Though I had to go through ground training, I was only required to make one jump – instead of five – because I’m already Airborne qualified. But I plan to make additional jumps (a likelihood I don’t discuss around Mom), because this program reminded me of just how much I’m still wired for jumping.
With everyone safely back on the ground, Alley – the former SF operator – told me both my exit and chute handling were very good. I said to him that I believed the hanging from the strut made the “Laotian” jump a bit “scarier” than my “U.S. Airborne” jumps where paratroopers simply jump out the door.
He thought about it, then said he was glad he attended Army jump school before beginning sport jumping. “That way, the 1,200 and below [extremely low] altitudes we jumped in Airborne school never seemed as scary to me as they might after sport jumping.”
In other words, sport jumps – and, yes, Laotian Airborne jumps – are made at altitudes high enough to afford the parachutist time to cut away from a malfunctioning canopy and deploy his reserve parachute if necessary. Whereas, most U.S. military jumps – the exception being high altitude, low opening (HALO) or high altitude, high opening (HAHO) jumps – are made low enough to keep the paratrooper exposed to enemy fire for as little time as possible, but probably not high enough for the jumper to remedy a major parachute malfunction.
Earning Royal Laotian Airborne wings is special indeed, and it makes the summer of 2010 a summer to remember. But when I consider my buddies like Col. Hykes and Lt. Col. Tom Mullikin serving with me on the USCTAT and the summer they too are enjoying – Laotian Airborne training like me, but also traveling to Europe and jumping with Belgians and Germans, as well as ice diving and bear hunting in Alaska – I realize I simply can’t compete.
FamilySecurityMatters.orgContributing Editor W. Thomas Smith Jr. is a former U.S. Marine infantry leader and shipboard counterterrorism instructor, who writes about military/defense issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans, on the West Bank, in Iraqand Lebanon. Visit his website at uswriter.com.
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