Local Hmong families honor someone they call a hero
Several Wausau Hmong families kicked off their New Year early to honor a man who they say is a hero.
Shocked and surprised that's how Ernie Kuhn described himself after seeing friends that he hadn't seen for more than 30 years. "I walked into this hall tonight and my mind was blown away," said Kuhn.
Several Hmong families gathered together before the Hmong New Year to throw Ernie a party, they consider him a hero. "The hardest thing was the fact we were helping people fight a war which was suppose to be a secret," said Kuhn.
In 1965 Ernie joined the peace corp, he lived in Thailand for 2 years. Ernie then joined forces with the US-Aid, volunteering to help the Thailand government but not knowing what he was getting into. "When I finished college I applied to the peace corp and applied to be sent to Thailand and got accepted to both and when I got their they said they had a new program with the Thai government. They said we would like to know if anyone wanted to volunteer.
"Since I had lived in a Hmong village for two years I was a perfect candidate even though I have to admit I still can't speak a word of Hmong," said Kuhn.
Ernie helped hmong refugees find safety and food during the Laos War, he says the War was getting hot. "He and I and his brother were in a helicopter that was riddled with Laos fire and his brother was killed in the aircraft with us. It was our job to go in to locate the people, get a census of how many people came out whether it was 10, 20, 100 and 500 whatever it is."
Ernie helped several of the Hmongs that live in the Wausau area become self sufficient again. So in return they bless him with strings to symbolize good luck to their dear old friend.