Like many Hmong Americans of the Secret War generation, Ge Xaochay Thao (Ntxoov Zeb Thoj) joined the army in his early teens. On July 17, many Hmong dignitaries and local elected officials will gather to pay their final respects to Thao Ge, as his is known.
Thao Ge peacefully passed away at the age of 85, on June 24, 2021, at his home in Fresno, California, where he lived with his wife of 65 years, Pa Moua, his son, Dr. Toulu Thao and his family. Thao Ge has five brothers and three sisters. His only surviving brother, James Koua Xaochay Thao, currently lives in Utah with his family.
In 1953, Thao Ge was recruited by the French Guerrilla Commando Military Army (GCMA) and trained as a Paratrooper and Radio Operator in a French Military Camp in Cap Saint Jacques, in South Vietnam. In 1954, he was one among many who marched towards Dien Bien Phu to provide military support to the French Army, only to return after learning that the French had lost the battle to the North Vietnamese Communist Army.
Thao Ge was later commissioned as the Chief of “Partisans Militaire,” a Military Support Unit in Xiengkhouang. Thao Ge is known for saving the life of the late General Vang Pao, who was then Major Vang Pao, from an assassination attempt carried out by his rivals. The ambush attempt took place in the Plain of Jars. Subsequently, Thao Ge’s troop, the “Partisans Militaire,” played a major role in helping to reinstate Major Vang Pao, who was ousted by his rivals, and put him back into power and take control of the military situation.
In 1961, Thao Ge continued his military services with the Royal Lao Army. He served in the Batallion Volontaire 21 (BV 21), fought with the United States during the Secret War of Laos (1961-1975), commanded troops, and as one among a few who were literate; he also served as an Officer of Disbursement for BV 21. Thao Ge held the rank of Two-Star Lieutenant.
Aside from his military services, many Thao clan members and friends credit Thao Ge for paving the road for their sons to get an education. Between1954 to 1958, Thao Ge and his wife, Pa Moua, housed nearly 30 students, sons of relatives and friends, allowing them to attend school in the city. In 1976, Thao Ge and his family fled Laos, as refugees, to Madison, Wisconsin, and, in 1983, they moved to Fresno, California.
Thao Ge is survived by his wife and, together, they have 10 children – Thao Ge was preceded in death by two sons – many grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Traditional funeral service for Thao Ge will be held at the Fresno Convention Center from July 17 to July 19 at 848 M Street, Fresno, CA 93721.