Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Montagnard Refugees Arrive in North Carolina

Montagnard Refugees Arrive in North Carolina

Montagnard Refugees Arrive in North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP)-Don Wolford remembers the devotion of the Montagnard people

when he was an Army Special Forces medic in Vietnam during the early 1960s.

So he didn't miss the chance to welcome the first group of Montagnard refugees when

they arrived Nov. 19 in North Carolina after living nearly two decades in the jungles

of northeastern Cambodia.

"These people are our friends," Wolford said, holding an old snapshot of

himself with two Montagnard rebels. "They were very loyal to us."

Wolford was one of about 50 people who came to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport

to welcome the group of Montagnards who will make North Carolina their new home.

They were left behind when the United States pulled out of Vietnam nearly two decades

ago.

During the next few weeks, 398 Montagnards are to fly from Cambodia to North Carolina.

The first small group of men, women and children were brought out of the jungles

last month by United Nations peacekeeping forces. They will be settled in Raleigh,

Greensboro and Charlotte. Some of them have friends or relatives in a group of 200

Mon-tagnards who settled in Charlotte in 1986.

"I saw some of my friends and I am so happy I can't think of anything right

now," said one of the arrivals, a 29-year-old father of three who gave his name

as Theo. His wife stood nearby holding their 1-year-old daughter.

Yput Mloduondu, one of the Montagnards who earlier settled in Charlotte, helped greet

the new arrivals.

"I worry about them. They just came from the jungle and here they are in the

United States," he said. "I want to help them."

In Vietnam, the Montagnards had been among tribes who rebelled for hundreds of years

against the lowland Vietnamese who had sought to wipe out their culture.

Relegated to second-class status in their own land, many Montagnards welcomed U.S.

intervention in Vietnam and fought alongside U.S. troops. After winning the war in

1975, the communists launched offensives against the insurgents in the Central Highlands,

forcing many Montagnards to flee.

In June, a group of Montagnards, most of them suffering from malaria or other diseases,

contacted U.N. peacekeepers and asked to be resettled in the United States.

Margaret Pierce, director of the refugee office for Catholic Social services of Charlotte,

said relief agencies will help house the Montagnards and give them training in English.

"They don't sit around and brood about how rough it is," she said. "They

are very smart people and hit the ground running. They are the survivors of the survivors."

MOST VIEWED

  • Temi tourism project approved by the CDC

    The $500.4 million Tourism, Ecological, Marine and International (Temi) tourism project has been approved by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC), according to a notice on its Facebook page on Monday. The project is part of Chinese-owned Union City Development Group Co Ltd’s (

  • Rainsy will return at ‘favourable time’

    Opposition figure Sam Rainsy on Saturday suggested he would not return to Cambodia as he had previously promised, saying that like liberators King Father Norodom Sihanouk and Charles de Gaulle, he would only do so at a “favourable time”. “I will go back to Cambodia

  • NagaWorld casino sees net profit of more than $390M last year

    Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino posted a 53 per cent net profit increase last year at $390.6 million, a sum which is almost equal to the combined net profit of all Cambodian commercial banks in 2017. NagaWorld’s parent company, NagaCorp Ltd, is listed on the Hong Kong

  • US Embassy urged to stop ‘disrespecting sovereignty’

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation called on the US Embassy in Phnom Penh on Saturday to respect the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations after it called former opposition leader Kem Sokha “an innocent man” – a move deemed to be “disrespecting Cambodia’s