After the briefing by the Commander of the 1st Military District of the Laotian army, a mention was made of the “Auto Defense Forces” in the villages along the borders where various Montagnard tribes lived. George and his partner had no true idea of who they were, but it would develop in time that their work with these tribes would be of significant importance when America became involved in the Vietnam war.
The Commander explained that these tribesmen were volunteers who were organized in loose form to defend their villages from any aggressor trying to occupy them. They had neither uniforms, military equipment nor weapons. Instead they were armed with homemade hunting “guns,” primarily made of old water pipes and pieces of old French muskets. They used homemade ammunition of black powder and lead plugs or nails.
Without being caught in violation of the Geneva Accords that ended the French Indochina war and that prohibited arming such tribes, George and his partner would commence on a long and tedious secret mission not only to get to know these fiery warriors but to “assist” the tribes in many ways. The border between Laos and Vietnam would be of strategic importance to the United States when new hostilities broke out between North and South Vietnam.
I write of George’s secret mission in my book: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying.
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