Somewhere in Laos, there are some fish with a grudge


My father and his brother grew up on an small US Air Force base in Laos during the Vietnam War. During that time, my grandfather was a captain in the army working for the US by leading ragtag bands of Hmong soldiers through the jungle to rescue American soldiers and pilots.  It wasn’t uncommon for Hmong soldiers to be as young as 14 or younger, but my dad and his brother were only 5 and 6 and the time. Even though they lived in a war zone, my mischievous dad and his older brother still had to find ways to entertain themselves. Since Hmong boys were expected to mature quickly, my uncle was given an M16 assault rifle for his 6th birthday from my grandfather. If you’ve ever seen an M16, you’ll know that it’s a pretty big rifle, and my father and uncle weren’t much much taller than the rifle.

One of their favorite things to do at the time was to go fishing, but my uncle thought that it would be fun to try out his new toy. So one afternoon they took the assault rifle down a small river an unloaded the 30 round magazine into the water and watched wide eyed as dozens of dead fish floated up to the surface. My dad told me that the fish actually didn’t die from being shot, but the shock of the impact from all of the gunshots pulsing through the water killed the fish. They happily returned home with their day’s catch and would come back to the river every so often when they had a craving for fish.

~Koobmoov Khang

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