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Patriots Point Panel to Discuss Green Berets’ Secret Use of Tribesmen During War

Chris Hauff Jul 29, 2015

On Friday, August 14th, at 7 p.m. the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum will host a symposium in which Vietnam War veterans who served as Green Berets in the Army’s Special Forces unit will discuss how the United States came to rely on oppressed tribe people known as Montagnards to help fight the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong.

Both Green Beret and Montagnard veterans will be part of an extremely rare panel that delves into the relationship between the two groups and discuss specific war stories where the ingenious people showed extreme loyalty, bravery and courage while fighting alongside American troops.

The Montagnards: The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors symposium is Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

The Montagnards: The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors symposium is Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

More than 60,000 Montagnards were trained by the Green Berets during the war to use modern weapons and techniques.    During the progression of the war, the relationship between the two groups grew quite strong.  The Green Berets admired the toughness and tenacity of the people.

“These tribe people who didn’t wear pants or shoes, were given rifles and grenades,” said Patriots Point Executive Director Mac Burdette.   “The Montagnards wouldn’t have been able to pass an Army physical and join the war, yet they were asked to give everything in the fight against the Communist North.  We want to help tell their stories and what they experienced after the war ended.  Their loyalty was uncommon in the annals of American warfare and continues to this day.”

Following the withdraw of American troops from Vietnam, a large majority of Montagnards lost their homeland.  Despite efforts by many Green Berets to facilitate an evacuation to the United States, only a couple thousand Montagnards made it – settling in North Carolina near the U.S. Army Base Fort Bragg.   Those left behind continue to face persecution by the Communist forces in Vietnam today.

The Montagnards: The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors symposium is free and will be held in the Smokey Stover Theater onboard the USS YORKTOWN.  The Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum is an official Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemorative partner of the Department of Defense.  This program is part of the museum’s ongoing commemoration efforts of the war.

What:                   The Montagnards:  The Green Berets’ Secret Vietnam Warriors

                                A symposium to discuss the secret use of tribesmen during the Vietnam War

Where:               In the Smokey Stover Theater aboard the USS YORKTOWN

When:                  Friday, August 14th at 7 p.m.

Cost:                     Both admission and parking will be free

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10 thoughts on “Patriots Point Panel to Discuss Green Berets’ Secret Use of Tribesmen During War

  1. Ken Jacobsen says:

    Do you have the names of Symposium participants?. I am a representative of COUNTERPARTS, a Vietnam Veterans organizations of former Combat Advisors in Indochina. We’ve done considerable work with the Montagnards, Hmong, and other groups, and recently sponsored and dedicated a memorial at Arllington Cemetary in honor of the “Secret Army” and their Advisors. I would like to attend the event, but need more information about the symposium.

  2. I am a Degar, also known as Montagnard, who has been living in the Charleston area since 1975. There were only a handful of us lucky enough to escape in 1975. I was too young to join the fight back then, but many of my older relatives, cousins, uncles, and friends have fought and died alongside American friends. My father was one of the earlier individuals who joined the fight with the green Green Berets in 1962. He died fighting sometime in 1976-1977 on the border of Cambodia and Vietnam. His remains were never found.

    It is nice to know an organization such as yours is doing something to remember the Degar people.


    Yluiñ Louie Niehrah

    1. Molly Hamilton says:

      Mr. Niehrah, Thank you so much for your reply. We have been interested to know about any one living in the Charleston area with ties to the Montagnards. Thank you for reaching out to us and sharing your family’s story. Many thanks to all of your family members for their service and sacrifice. We hope you will be able to join us this Friday. We would appreciate the opportunity to meet you.

      Molly Hamilton
      Public Information & Media Relations

  3. John LaVerne says:

    One of the Montagnard panelists for tonight is K’Sao Krajan. He is a Bronze Star recipient and his grandson will become the first Montagnard to attend The Citadel this fall.

  4. K'Dream Wright says:

    I’m bringing my father to the event tonight. His name is Ha Jimmy Cillpam, he is the head of the Bamboo Cross organization who helped/helps get Mortagnards resettled in the US.

    1. Molly Hamilton says:

      So glad to hear you and your father will be joining us. We are excited to tell the story that many do not know.

      Molly Hamilton
      Public Information & Media Relations

  5. Larry Turner says:

    I was a Green Beret in Nam 1964 and 65. I was unable to attend last nights symposium and would like to know if there is a video or notes on what took place there or any manner to review conversations and the vets that were there.

    1. Molly Hamilton says:

      Mr. Turner, Thank you for your service to our country and for your interest in the symposium. We are still working to archive the video, but it should be completed by later today. As soon as it is available, you should be able to view the entire symposium at this link: http://livestream.com/patriotspointlive/montagnards

      Thanks you again!
      Molly Hamilton
      Public Information & Media Relations

  6. David Singleton says:

    We met Ha Jimmy many years ago at a small church in the mountains of California. Is there any way to get a message to him?
    David Singleton
    [email protected]

  7. DC Gilbert says:

    I wish I had known about this symposium years ago. I was digging for more information about the Montagnard people, and stumbled on this article. I am not here to promote my self, but I am a veteran and released a novel in 2017 that features a couple of strong Montagnard characters during the War in Vietnam, and I am currently working on the sequel which is titled “Montagnard,” in which one of the main characters is a Degar. This symposium would have been very interesting and helpful. I tried the link to the archive and got a 404 “Page not found” error. Is there another link? If there is, that would be great!


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