Veterans Seek US Recognition of War Role

A group of Cambodian-American war veterans will convene in Washington on Monday and Tuesday to push for congressional approval of a resolution that would for the first time recognize the role Cambodian soldiers played in the Second Indochina War.

More than 100 veterans from the U.S., Cambodia, Laos and Australia will meet with members of the U.S. House of Representatives over the next two days to discuss the passage of House Resolution 596, according to a statement released last week by the St. Paul, Minnesota-based International Khmer Assembly.

In May, U.S. Representative Sean Duffy, who introduced the resolution, said the recognition was overdue.

“These men deserve the grateful thanks of our nation, and this resolution awards them the recognition that they’ve long deserved,” Mr. Duffy said.

During the Second Indochina War, U.S. B-52 bombers dropped about 2.7 million tons of ordnance on Cambodia in an effort to cut off Hanoi’s supply lines to the south of Vietnam, where communist Viet Cong guerillas were operating. Many of these covert air operations took place with help from Cambodians.

After Lon Nol seized power from then-Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, he permitted U.S. and South Vietnamese forces to operate within Cambodia, also with assistance from Cambodian soldiers.

The International Khmer Assembly aims to bring recogni- tion to these soldiers with the passage of this resolution, said Chamnap Nay, a spokeswoman for the group.

Ms. Nay said that even though many of these veterans are now in their 80s or have already died, the passage of the resolution is more important than ever.

“This is important to all veterans because it shows they are not being forgotten by the United States,” Ms. Nay said. “This will give a lot of dignity to the Khmer in America. It shows we are not just refugees but…part of a fight to help our country.”

mueller@cambodiadaily.com

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