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Service & Sacrifice: Secret Jungle Warrior | News

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Service & Sacrifice: Secret Jungle Warrior
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An East Tennessee man who helped rescue downed American pilots in Vietnam and spy on enemy troops saw his service largely ignored for decades by the US government.

"…your just like an animal, you live one night here, one night there," said Mr. Dang Lee who gained American citizenship back in the early eighties. Born into the Hmong culture in Laos, Mr. Lee earned a technical degree in America that lead to a job designing and building mufflers he held for decades.

He raised a family and built a home in East Tennessee, but he is still awaiting word about whether the US government will grant him health benefits afforded to combat veterans.

At 14, Mr. Lee followed in his father's footsteps, joining the Secret Guerilla Unit created by the CIA during the early days of the fight against the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. The younger Lee fought in the jungles of Laos for close to 8 years on behalf of US forces.

In addition to our on camera interview, Mr. Lee also agreed to answer the following "10 questions" interview about his life and his service in the SGU.

1. What one person influenced you most in life?


DL: It was probably my wife. Without her I can't imagine living a happy life.

2. Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?


DL: Not much right now. Because I know our service is still not known by many American people. People who served in Vietnam know, but not many others.

3. How can people thank you for your service?


DL: Just shake hands or when they know they say thank you for what you did to help our country.

4. How do you honor your fellow service men and women?


DL: We honor them mostly when someone passes away. Also, we have gatherings to honor them.

5. How do you think this generation of service men and women is different or similar to yours?


DL: Different, they are very different. The wars now are very different because the knowledge and technology is so advanced compared to my fighting days.

6. What influence did your military service have on the rest of your life?


DL: By serving your country and giving your best as a citizen you need to love your country. I became a citizen in the early eighties.

7. Does your family have a history of military service?


DL: My father served in the secret CIA unit. My uncle and cousins also served American forces as well.

8. Would you encourage your son, daughter or other younger generations in your family to join the military?


DL: Yes. I would encourage them to join and protect their country.

9. After seeing it and living it how has your opinion of war changed?


DL: It makes me more reluctant to go to war and do what we can to avoid it. Friendship is a priority.

10. How did your military experience shape your religious faith?


DL: I believe in God and serving my government.

*If you have ideas for our series please email 10News anchor John Becker.

jbecker@wbir.com


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