Legacies of War: A Project on the Secret U.S. Bombings in Laos
Channapha Khamvongsa*, Sary Tatpaporn**, Bounthanh Phommasathit***, Lee Thorn**** (Panel of 4)

*New York, NY, Presentation Chair
**Richmond, CA
***Cleveland, OH
****San Francisco, CA



The secret U.S. bombings of Laos during the Vietnam War era branded it the most bombed country in all of warfare history. Yet, the bombings and the legacy of Laos, being heavily littered by deadly unexploded ordnances, remain unknown to most of the world today. Unauthorized by Congress, the U.S. bombings killed and injured tens of thousands, and displaced countless Lao from their homes. The illegality of the bombings has led to suggestions that the U.S. military aggression is a crime of war and a violation of human rights.

Thirty-years after the last bombs were dropped, a group of Lao-Americans and supporters are organizing to unearth this obscure chapter in U.S. history. Legacies of War is an education and advocacy project which seeks to raise awareness about the fatal American bombings and to develop strategies for increasing the role of the U.S. in the removal of unexploded ordnances and in the assistance to survivors. Legacies of War will also draw attention to the victims and survivors of the bombings, whose faces, voices and humanity are often forgotten in the discourse of warfare.

The panel will include presentations from the above authors, along with display of historic illustrations drawn 30-years ago in Laos by survivors of the secret American bombings. The panelist will include Lee Thorn, formerly with the U.S. Navy, who loaded cluster bombs on U.S. planes destined for Laos. Mr. Thorn is featured in the film “Bombies,” which is scheduled to be screened at the conference. Ms. Bounthanh Phommasathit is a survivor of the bombings in Xieng Khoang.