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Honoring the Former South Vietnamese Army Commandos

Loretta Sanchez - May 21st, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - April 23rd, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - September 10th, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - June 4th, 1997

Loretta Sanchez - April 16th, 1997

Human & Religious Rights in Vietnam

Loretta Sanchez - May 1st, 1997

Loretta Sanchez - September 17th, 1997

Loretta Sanchez - October 23rd, 1997

Loretta Sanchez - May 12th, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - April 30th, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - June 23rd, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - March 10th, 1999

Encouragement to Join

Loretta Sanchez - March 3rd, 1998

Loretta Sanchez - July 29th, 1998

Free Trade with Vietnam

Loretta Sanchez - July 30th, 1998

 

 

 

HONORING THE FORMER SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY COMMANDOS

 

Background

On May 21, 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation authored by Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez to honor and recognize the former South Vietnamese Army Commandos who were employed by the U.S. government during the Vietnam War.

The Sanchez legislation officially recognizes these heroic men who fought side-by-side with American soldiers in Vietnam. According to Department of Defense documents obtained by Congresswoman Sanchez, the Vietnamese Commandos participated in covert operations to infiltrate and destabilize Communist North Vietnam on behalf of the United States government.

The Sanchez legislation was included in the Fiscal Year 1999 Department of Defense Authorization bill - H.R. 3616 - which passed by a vote of 357 to 60.

"What is at stake is honor. These men served the cause of fighting communism with immense bravery. They risked their lives, then lived for years in the torturous prisons of North Vietnam. It is long overdue for our nation to recognize the few surviving commandos and their families for their heroic war time efforts," said Sanchez.

Last year Sanchez secured passage of legislation to make monetary reparations to the commandos for their service to the United States during the Vietnam War. (Public Law # 105-18).

On May 15, 1997, the Commando Compensation board was established at the Pentagon. Since then, 168 cases have been paid and 337 claims have been processed.

Last year, Sanchez held a public forum with 40 commandos from the 46th district. One individual shared with her his story of how he parachuted into enemy territory, was captured, convicted of treason, beaten, thrown into solitary confinement for 11 months, then moved among hard labor camps for the next seven years. His story is not unlike countless others.

"While it has taken years for these brave heroes to finally receive their back pay, I am pleased that the House of representatives has recognized our friends who fought so bravely for our country," Sanchez concluded.

 

 

HONORING FORMER SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY COMMANDOS

Hon. Loretta Sanchez

House of Representatives - May 21, 1998

Mr. Speaker,

2 weeks ago the House Committee on National Security unanimously approved my amendment to honor and recognize the former South Vietnamese army commandos who were employees of the United States Government during the Vietnam War.

Today, the Members of this House had the opportunity to properly honor those brave men by supporting the Department of Defense authorization bill for fiscal year 1999.

Last year, the President signed into law legislation that I advocated to ensure that the United States Government honor a 30-year-old bad debt and pay these men who worked for the United States Government the wages they earned but were denied during the Vietnam War.

These individuals were trained by the Pentagon to infiltrate and destabilize communist North Vietnam. Many of these commandos were captured and tortured while in prison for 15 to 20 years, and many never made it out. Declassified DOD documents showed that U.S. officials wrote off the commandos as dead even though they knew from various sources that many were alive in Vietnamese prisons.

The documents also show that U.S. officials lied to the soldiers' wives, paid them tiny `Death Gratuities' and washed their hands of the matter.For example, Mr. Ha Va Son was listed as dead by our Government in 1967, although he was known to be in a communist prison in North Vietnam . Today he is very much alive and well and living in Chamblee, GA. In my hand I hold the United States Government's official declaration of his death.

Because it was a secret covert operation, the U.S. Government thought they could easily ignore the commandos, their families, friends, and their previous contacts without anyone noticing.

As the Senior Senator from Pennsylvania said in a recent hearing, `This is a genuinely incredible story of callous, inhumane, and really barbaric treatment by the United States.' In the 104th Congress, this House approved legislation that required the Department of Defense to pay reparations to the commandos. This bill would have provided $20 million to the commandos and their survivors, an average grant of about $40,000 per commando. It called them to be paid $2,000 a year for every year they were in prison, less than the wages they were due. President Clinton signed this legislation into law (Public Law 104-201). \

However, in April of 1997, the Department of Defense said that the statute was legislatively flawed and the Secretary could not legally make payments. I then contacted Secretary Cohen requesting the administration's help to correct this error. The administration responded by supporting inclusion of the funding in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 1997 (Public Law 105-18).

Last year, I met at a public forum with 40 commandos from my district. One individual shared with me his story of how he parachuted into enemy territory, was captured, convicted of treason, beaten, thrown into solitary confinement for 11 months, then moved among hard--labor camps for the next seven years.

His story is not unlike countless others. I request unanimous consent to insert into the record one story of this abuse headlined `Uncommon Betrayal' as reported by an Atlantia newspaper recently. Today, however, I am pleased to provide this Body with this update. To date, the Commando Compensation Board has been established at the Pentagon; 266 claims have been processed; 142 Commandos have been paid. All this was made possible because of the commitment of this House.

 

 

COMMANDOS FINALLY RECEIVING JUSTICE

Hon. Loretta Sanchez

House of Representatives - April 23, 1998

Mr. Speaker, for the past year, I have been working to ensure that the United States Government honor a 30-year-old debt to former South Vietnamese Army commandos, who worked for the U.S. Government during the Vietnam War. And these individuals were recruited by the United States to cross enemy lines and fight the Communists on behalf of the Americans.

Last year, Congress unanimously approved legislation to finally pay the 30-year-old debt, and I am very happy to announce that the long wait for recognition and compensation may be finally over for the commandos.

To date, the Commando Compensation Board has processed 266 claims. One hundred forty-two commando cases have been approved, and these individuals are finally receiving their compensation. I am pleased that the U.S. Government is finally honoring their contracts for their years of service and for their bravery in service to the United States. The least we must do is keep our word.

I look forward to the day that all of these cases are closed and every single commando receives his justice.

 

 

WE MUST CARE FOR THE COMMANDOS

Hon. Loretta Sanchez

House of Representatives - September 10, 1997

Mr. Speaker, in June of this year, Congress approved legislation to finally pay a 30-year debt. The South Vietnamese Lost Army Commandos will finally have their United States Government contracts honored by the Pentagon for their years of service to the United States Army.

But accepting their long overdue pay would mean the loss of something even more important for many of the commandos, their health care benefits. The medical problems resulting from years in torture require long-term health care, care they will not be able to receive if they accept their compensation.

After years of torture by the North Vietnamese, the callousness of being declared dead by the United States Government, and years of anguish over not receiving their rightful compensation, these brave men are faced with another obstacle in their 30-year struggle. I urge my colleagues to support these men who fought and bled in Vietnam for the United States cause.

As the House goes to conference on the Labor-HHS bill, I urge my colleagues to accept the Senate position exempting the commandos' compensation from Medicaid eligibility.

 

 

SUPPORT THE COMMANDO FUNDING

Hon. Loretta Sanchez

House of Representatives - June 04, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to illustrate the grave implications which resulted from the untimely failure of Congress to approve the supplemental appropriations bill. Included in the supplemental is $20 million in payments to former South Vietnamese commandos who were trained by and worked for the U.S. Government during the Vietnam war. The Pentagon failed to carry out the will of the 104th Congress to compensate these brave men for their service to this Nation, especially for their time in captivity. Tragically, the Pentagon delayed and four commandos perished in the last year. Now, while this body recessed and failed to pass the supplemental appropriations bill, a fifth commando has also perished.

Duong Lang Sang was captured in 1966 by the North Vietnamese Government while working for the United States. After 16 years in hard labor as a prisoner of war he was finally released in 1982. After his release he suffered many illnesses arising from his torture.

Two weeks ago, Mr. Sang passed away in Chicago as a result of those injuries. He has left behind a widow and two school-aged children.

Please join me in asserting that we pass the supplemental appropriations bill so that these soldiers would not have died in vain.

 

 

LET US BRING JUSTICE TO THE COMMANDOS

Hon. Loretta Sanchez

House of Representatives - April 16, 1997

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to call attention to an injustice suffered by over 300 men of the Vietnam war, an injustice that spans three decades. During the war, the United States Government trained a number of South Vietnamese commandos to infiltrate North Vietnam Communist operations. Many of these commandos were captured and brutally tortured during their years of imprisonment and sustained long-term injuries.

There are about 300 commandos currently living throughout the United States. It is now time for our Nation to recognize their heroic war efforts and compensate the few surviving commandos and their families.

The Pentagon has failed to carry out the unanimous will of the 104th Congress to pay these brave men an average of $40,000 each for their time in captivity. In fact, while the Pentagon has delayed, three of the commandos have perished.

The House Committee on Appropriations has the opportunity to fully recognize their service on behalf of the United States as they consider the supplemental appropriations bill this week. It is the least we can do to recognize their enormous sacrifice.

Let us not turn our backs on the commandos.