As an American teenager, whenever I asked grown-ups about the Vietnam War, few wanted to discuss it. As an adult, it was just as hard to talk about the war. That's why I never told friends and neighbors about my family's history.
You see, the Vietnam War took place in my family's backyard. My family lived in northeastern Laos, in Nong Het, right on the border with Vietnam. When the CIA needed an ally, they found a charismatic, passionate young man not afraid to die.
That man was my great-uncle, the late Gen. Vang Pao.