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Manichan Xiong

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Manichan was born in Muang Cha, Laos. She is the daughter of Zam Va Yang and the wife of Colonel Shong Leng Xiong. She is a survivor of the Secret War in Laos. Her family helped American soldiers during the war, and she lost her grandfather after helping an American pilot. Manichan arrived in U.S. in 1993.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Please contact Immigration History Research Center staff for permissions not covered by this Creative Commons license.

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Recorded in September 2014

Voiceover:

Kuv lub npe, kuv lub npe tiag tiag kuv niam thiab kuv txiv tib rau kuv mam yog Iab Yaj naws. Ces kuv hnub yug muaj raucaum peb xyoo. Kuv yug xyoo ib txhias cuajpuam tsibcaug, lub rau hli vam thij kaumtsib nyob rau lub zos muang cha. Lub zos muang cha. Es kuv niam thiab kuv txiv hu ua Zam Vas Yaj. Ho kuv tus txiv yog Colonel Soob Leej Xyooj. Es kuv yog niam Colonel Soob Leej Xyooj nawm.

Ces hnub no kuv yuam tuaj tham mam kuv yuam tham txog kuv qho, kuv zaj dab neeg thiab kuv lub neej. Yog txog ntawd daim duab no thiab daim duab no. Kuv ho tuaj piab hnub no mam kuv piab txog qho hais tias lub nyob hoov zoo lis lub no, nws thaus cov khoob no mus pub rau peb cov tham hav noj peb rooj tam sib nyab laj tuaj phom lob txais lub nyob hoov no poob. Ces lub nyob hoov no nws lo poob rau ntawd peb thaj teb. Lub rooj poj tsuas ces ib lub qas tsuas. Ces ob tug nakbin ces ib tug kuv hnyiab rog lub nyob hoov no tuag lawm. Ib tug nakbin nws tau raug sab ceg ces nws nriag lub kauv ces nws los mus khuas toob ces nws poob los mus dawm lub pob zes ces nws poob rau lub qas tsuas.

Cov nyob hoov tuaj mus yuj sau lawm tsis pom nws na yoj ces nws nkaus tau ob hnub. Ces kuv txiv hais tiab, Tha xab maim, ces kuv txiv tau ncuag raj diav no rau peb no mob lawm nas. Ces thaum lub nyob hoov poob no ces kuv txiv hais tiab kuv txiv coj kuv wb mus saib lub nyov hoov kuv hnyiab tag ces wb mus qab cov hlaub los ntau cov hlaus no, tam sib qab cov txhuas cov los ncuag cov diav no peb no mob na. Thaum kuv txiv wb mus txog qab tsuas ces pov ib tug asmeskas nyob ntawd nkaum rau tom lub qab tsuas lawm na. Nws tshais tshais tsab peb yog nyab laj peb muas nws tuab nawm. Kuv thiab hais rau kuv txiv hais tiab, “ Txiv, muaj ib tug meskas nyob ntawd”. Ces tub meskas khias mus nkaum rau pug tom lawm nas. Ces kuv txiv thiab li xav hais tiab tsas nyab laj ho zo thas tsas ntawd es ces wb mus pab tub meskas ntawd ces nyab laj ho tuaj mua kuv txiv wb tuav hiav no ces, kuv txiv thiaj li hais rau kuv hais tias, ciaj kuv txiv txog muse s kuv txiv tiv mob hauv lub fab tawj mob lis no xwb, ces kuv txiv ntis dej rau hauv lub raj zoo li no.

Kuv txiv hais tias kom kuv paib nqa qho mob ntawd mus pub rau tub nakbin meskas noj kom nws txog tuag. Ces kuv paib ces kuv hais rau nws hais tiab kom nws noj, qho no nws tsis tuag. Es nws noj nws tsis tuag, yog hais tias nws tsis ntseeg kuv no ces kuv no jib qho rau nws saib, kuv hauv, kuv hauv ib qho dej no rau nws saib thaj. Ib pliag yog kuv tsis tuag no ces kos nws noj. Ces kuv thiaj li muaj raj dej no hauv, kuv thiaj muaj qho mob coj lo noj, nyob nyob rau nws saib ib pliag kuv tsis tuag ces nws thiaj nkag nkag los noj naws. Mob mob nws sab ceg lawm os. Npam no, kuv thiaj hais kuv niam hais tiam, kuv rov qab los hais rau kuv niam hais tiam tub meskas peb raug nws sab ceg txais kobtawm ob ob lawm, nws must sis tau kev. Ces kuv niam paub paub tshuaj ob, nws thiaj muaj ib txhias tshuaj tsoo tsoo coj lo rau kuv coj pais qhwb. Ces npam no, kuv tsiv mam li, ces kuv txiv mas kuv txiv tsis kam mus rau qho kuv txim ntshais tsham kuv txiv mus ces nyam lab nyob tom ntej pob ces hom paub tiam wb zais ib tug Nambian rau haum nas yoj. Ces kuv txiv hais kom kuv cia li ua li no ces kuv nqa lub kawm no thiab raj txuas no mus ua txoj li kuv to to kav tsawb li kuv mus deb zaus npua los npu npuas xwb.

Es kuv ib leeg tub me nyuam ntxhais me me npaim thos thos kav tsaws tam sib kuv twb nqa qho mo mus npu tub meskas noj haum mus qhw qhw nws txhais kaws tawm tam kuv rov qab los ces tsis muaj neeg paus li.

Ces kuv txiv thiab los pug ram zos es kuv txiv mam lo tim tauj tub taluaj hais tias muaj ib tub asmeskas pooj nyob hoov rau puag peb. Wb muas zaib rau peb. Peb yuav ua li cas peb thiab mus pab taus. Ces tus, muaj ib lub nyob hoov tuaj tsaws ces tub taluaj nces mus rog tus nambian tham tham ces lawv thiab li nug kuv txiv hais tias zoo li cas. Kuv txiv hais tias ntawd ws thaj teb ntawd mas muaj ib lub hav zoov, ib tug khws dej, tam sib mas muaj ib lub roob nqeeb nyob sab tid yog kuv txiv lub tshav twm thiab, no nas. Lawv thiab muas ib daim ntaub dawb ces lawv hais tias, wb yuas ua li cas pab no. Tsaus ntuj ces kuv txiv hais kos kuj taws tsauj ces kuv txiv pub tub nambian ntawd txhais--lub xub pwg mob mob, sab mob mob ntawd rau kuv txiv sab xub pwg ces wb los so los so, yuav luag kaj ntug ces peb mas los nkaum ib koog nqeem ze ze rau ntawd luv roob nqeeb ntawd. Tam sim muaj ib nkoog loj loj li no ces nkaum hauv tsis muaj neeg pom. Ces ib chim, thaj tsam li thaum cuaj moob, ces lub nyob hoov tuaj ya ya ya sauv. Ces kuv txiv thiaj hais kuv tias kom kuv pais pua daim ntaub dawb rau. Ces kuv thiab pais pua daim ntaub dawb rau ces kuv thiab muaj daim ntaub yoj yoj yoj yoj no ces nws thiab pos hais tias oh, daim ntaub dawb nyob hauv. Ces lawv thiab ya los qis qis ces dauv ib txoj hlua pug sauv rau ntawd nkoog nqeeb ntawd. ces tus meskas thiab li tuav txoj hlua ces nws thiab li rub tauj tub ameskas ntawd pais rau sauv nyob hoov lawm naws.

Ces tom qab ces nyab laj paub tias kuv txiv pab tus meskas ntawd lawm nas ces nyab laj cias li tuaj tua peb kiag peb pem peb thaj teb pem naws. Tam sib lub sij hawm ntawd kuv txiv ho tsis nyob ces tua tau kuv yawg tuag kiag ntog dab ntub. Tshuav kuv niam wb ob leeg ces kuv niam muas daim pam kauv kiag kuv kom txhob hais lub ces wb ntog kiag qab txaj. Wb nkag mus haum qab txaj mas tsis paub hais li cas li. ntshav ntwv npog rau kuv tag. Thaum nyab laj los tib ncaws taw kiag hais tias tuag lawm tiag no ces nyab laj tawm plaws pais lawm ces kaj ntug kuv niam wb mam sawv los. Tshem kiag daim pam mas ntshav ntseeg nkaw xws. Kuv yawg yog tus hlub kuv tshaj plaws. kuv niaj hmo pw hauv kuv yawg lub xubntiag tamsib kuv yawg tuag lawm. Ces kuv thiaj tu siab heev. Kuv thiaj xav hais tias zaum no mas kuv yuav tsum mus yuav ib tug txiv tham hav, kuv yuav tsum mus ua rog, mus tua cov nyab laj no xws.

Ces kuv tus txiv thiaj tuaj kawm nram peb lub khaib, peb lus zos, ces kuv thiaj li yuav tau kuv tus txiv. Tus no yog kuv tus txiv tus phooj ywg zoo tshaj plaws ua qhia tau kuv tua phom. Es kuv nrog kuv tus txiv mus ua rog yo, ces ib lub nyob hoov tua tau tus nambian los, poob rau hauv ces kuv tus txiv wb mus caum nws ces nws hais tias -- nws ntshai ntshai tsam wb yog nyab laj ces kuv tus txiv hais tias “Family, family”. Tam sib kuv tus txiv tuav lub xovtooj hais lus meskas, yo. Tus no naws, tus no. Ces nws thiaj li saib yuag yus hais lus meskas ces nws thiaj li tig looj rov wab los tuav lub xovtooj hu pug saum nyob hoov ces -- peb nyob haum ib lub hav zoov ces nyob hoov thiaj yus ces tso txoj hlua rub nws thiaj. Twv rub mus txog ib nta nws tseem rov qab los, nws tseem rov qab los khawm peb txiv hniav ib pas. Pais tag kis nws tseem hu hu hu tuaj hais tias “Kuv yuam tuaj tso ib lub bo rau koj”. Ces tag kis ces niam no, nws tuaj pov ob tug turkey rau wb noj ces nws hais tias, “Hnub no yog kuv lub teb chaws meskas noj turkey. Yog nag hmo koj pab tsis tau kuv tuag ces kuv tsis tau noj turkey hnub no tam sib kub qab ob tug turkey no kuv qab tuaj pub koj noj”. Es tseem tau tus meskas no ob tug turkey noj. Mam tus no yog kuv ib tug phooj ywg zoo tshaj plaws tiam sib nws tau tuag rau tib teb chaws thaib lawm. Tus no tuag teb chaws nplog lawm naws. Nws los tsis txog.

Kuv nsteeg hais tias kuv ob tug phooj ywg no yog tuaj txog teb chaws no mas kuv tsis tau piav ib los lus li. Lawv yog tus piav xwb. Thaum kuv piav zab dab neeg kuv pab tus nambian no es lawv tuaj tua kuv yawg tuag es yog kuv txiv tau pab tus nambian na. Ces lawv thiaj hlub kuv heev naws. Nws thiaj rov qab tuaj nram peb tshev tuaj xyua kuv txiv tuaj ua tsaug rau kuv txiv. Ces kuv tus nus no thias kuv tus nus no thiaj coj nkaws ob leeg mus rau peb lub roob ua tus nambian poob ntawm es wb tau pab haum lub qab tshuas nas. Lawv thiaj mus thaij thaj duam no rau peb. Es kuv ob tug phooj ywg no yog ob tug ua zoo tshaj plaws rau kuv thias qhia tau kuv tua phom ua tau txhuas yam.

Tiam sib wb tuaj teb chaws no xyoo ib txhiab cuaj pua xyacaum tsib. Es wb tau -- nyob li no ces txom nyem ces yeej yuav tuaj, nyob tsis tau ces, lub nyob hoov no yog lub ua sawm kev haum lub tshav nyob hoov Looj Ceej tuaj mus. Lub nyob hoov no yog lus peb nce tuaj mus rau teb chaws Thaib xyoo ib txhiab cuaj pua xyacaum tsib. lub lu faim no yog wb lub lu faim. Tom qab peb tuaj rau tau teb chaws Thaib peb nyob xyoo ib txhiab cuaj pua xyacaum tsib txog tua xyoo cuaj caum peb lawv kaw xuan tag wb mam tuaj.

Kuv thiaj li tu siab heev, kuv thiaj li tau hais tias kuv tsis txawj ntawv los kuv kuas kuv txhais tes xaws tau lub neej no tseg rau hauv daim paj ntaub no cias. Ib co yog cov es tau tuag li kuv daim ntawv. Ib co yog kuv caij nyob hoov tuaj. Ib co yog tuaj txog to Hin Heup es raug nyab laj tua tuag. Nyob haum kuv daim paj ntaub no. kuv thiaj li muas kuv lub teb chaws no coj los xaws tseg. Txoj cai phau constitution, peb txhua haiv neeg nyob peb daim ab nplog, peb lub teb chaws nplog, rau nej cov hluas tseg hais tias ib tug leej niam tau raug ib txoj kev txob nyem thiag thiag.

Tam sib no kuv muaj raucaum taws xyoo lawm. Yog kuv tsis muaj qho no los qhia nej, kuv yuav pu nrog kuv lub cev mus lwj mus, nej yuav tsis pom tsis paub. Es thov kom nej hlub cov niam cov txiv laus laus lis peb cov txiv nej hnub no zaum haum lauv ntawm. Yog lawv txoj kev thias peb txoj kev nco peb lub teb chaws thias hlub peb lub teb chaws. Ua tsaug rau lub sijhawm ua nej pub kuv tuaj hais ob peb lo lus naws.


Subtitles:

My given name was Ia Yang. I am 63 years old. I was born on June 15th, 1950 in the village of Muang Cha. My parents’ name was Zam Vas Yang. My husband is Colonel Shong Leng Xiong.

I am here today to tell my life story through these photos here. I’m going to talk about an aircraft like this one, that carried food and supplies to the soldiers. One of these was shot down and crashed beside a mountain by our farmland. There were two pilots. One of them died in the crash. The other pilot hurt his leg after his parachute got caught in a tree. Then, he fell down into a cavern.

The search planes couldn’t see him so, he hid for two days. My father developed a way to make this spoon. When the plane crashed, my father took me to go collect the steel to make a hoe like this and the aluminum to make a spoon for eating. We reached the cavern and saw the American hiding inside. He was afraid that we were communists and would kill him. I told my father, “Father, there’s an American over there.” The American then hid further in the cavern. My father thought the communists would be watching the area, and that if we helped, we would be killed. So, my father said he wouldn’t go, but he would pack food, in a basket like this, and water, in a carrier like this one.

Then, my father told me to bring the food to the American so he wouldn’t die. I told the American to eat and that it wouldn’t kill him. Since he didn’t believe me, I said I will eat in front of him and drink the water to show that it wasn’t poisoned. If I didn’t die, he should eat. So, I drank a bit of water and ate a bit of food to show him that I was fine. Then he ate the food. His leg was really injured, so, I told my mother that his leg was injured, swollen, and he couldn’t walk. My mother was very knowledgeable about medicine. She gave me medicine to wrap his leg.

My father refused to go in case the communists saw and found out that we were hiding the pilot. Instead, he told me to carry this basket and this scythe, to cut banana leaves for the pigs. I was just a little girl cutting banana leaves, but really, I had fed the pilot and wrapped his leg without anyone knowing. When my father went to town, he contacted a police officer and explained that there was a stranded pilot at the crash site who needed help. At that moment, a plane landed, so, the officer went and spoke to the pilot. They asked my father some questions. My father described that beside our farmland, there was a jungle and a creek, and on the other side of the mountain was a buffalo field that belonged to my father. They then gave us a white cloth and told us what to do.

At night, my father told me to make a fire as he supported the pilots’ bad leg with his shoulder. Slowly, we made our way until dawn and hid in a glade of tall grass near the mountainside. Since it was a glade, no one would be able to see us hidden there in the forest. Around 9 o’clock, the plane flew overhead. Then, my father told me to lay out the white cloth. I laid it out and waved another cloth so that they could see us below. They hovered low above the field and dropped a rope. The American grabbed the rope and they pulled him up into the aircraft.

Afterwards, the communists discovered that we helped the American. They came to our farm to kill us. My father wasn’t home at that time and they killed my grandfather in his sleep. It was only my mother and I left. She wrapped us in a blanket and we both hid under the bed. There was blood everywhere while we were under the bed. The communists came in, kicked my grandfather to make sure he was dead, then left. We waited until morning to come out. There was so much blood. My grandfather loved me the most. I was with him every night and when he died, I was so sad. I then vowed to marry a soldier, fight the war, and kill them.

Afterwards, my husband came to our camp to train, and then I married him. This is my husbands’ best friend who taught me how to shoot a gun. When I went to fight in the war with my husband, a pilot was shot down, so my husband and I went to help. He was scared that we were communist soldiers. My husband said, “Family, family” to reassure him and showed him our American radio. When he heard English on the radio, he quickly grabbed it and called a plane. We were in the jungle so the plane hovered above and dropped a rope for him. Halfway up, he jumped back down to give my husband a hug and a kiss.

After he left, the next day, he called and said he had a gift. The next day, he brought two turkeys for us and said, “Today is Thanksgiving day. If you hadn’t saved me yesterday I wouldn’t be able to celebrate today, so I brought this meal to share with you.” So, we shared a Thanksgiving meal with him. He’s one of my greatest friends but he died in Thailand. This one here died in Laos. He didn’t make it back. I believe that if they were alive, I wouldn’t have to tell my story because they would. When I told them my story about how my father saved the pilot and how my grandfather died, they understood me. They even came to our home and thanked my father. My brothers then took them to the site of the crash, where we helped the pilot, and took this photo there. They are my greatest friends who have taught me many things.

We left Laos in 1975. It was devastating and we couldn’t live there anymore. This is the plane that took us from Longcheng. This is the plane we took to Thailand in 1975. This car here is ours. We lived in Thailand from 1975, til the camp closed, in 1993, then we came to America. I was very sad, so, even though I wasn’t very smart, I was skilled with my hands and I would use that skill to create a record of this life into this story cloth. Those who were tortured, those who got in the plane, and those who died at Hin Heup; they are in this story cloth. I sewed my country, our constitution, and our many people from Laos into my story cloth, so that our young people can understand. It shows that a mother has experienced pain.

I am over 60 now. If I don’t share this, it will die with me and no one will know. Please, love your parents and elders. We hold the pain of missing our country. Thank you for giving me the time to share.