The Colonel of the 1st Military District proceeded to take George and his partner to a Montagnard village in the mountains. This would be the first of many trips into the Laotian mountains and jungles by George over the next two years.
Upon arrival, the Colonel requested the village chief to present his “auto-defense” group. The village had an approximate population of 200 people, and the men presented numbered perhaps thirty of the ages between 18 and 30. Although they did not have a uniform, they dressed in pajama-type black trousers and shirts and were armed mostly with machetes, some old sabers, and long homemade hunting knives. They presented a very war-like appearance and seemed ready to defend their village to the last man.
It was evident to George that, while the Montagnard knew the jungles better than anyone and even though they were fierce fighters, they would be ill-equipped against an organized well-supplied fighting force. He was impressed with their presentation and told the Colonel this “auto-defense” idea at the border of the country was what was needed and that he would discuss the problem of equipping these fighters with the Chief of Staff upon his return to the capitol, Vientiane.
This was the tentative beginning of what would become a two-year program of clandestine training and equipping the Montagnards.
I write of George’s Laotian experience as America was making its first preparations to enter Vietnam in my book: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying.
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