RIP William Young


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
William Young, Who Helped U.S. Organize Secret War in Laos, Is Dead at 76
Published: April 3, 2011

From The New York Times

CHIANG MAI, Thailand — William Young, a missionary’s son who mixed evangelical zeal with covert missions for the C.I.A. in Southeast Asia and who helped organize the “secret war “ in Laos for the United States during the Vietnam War, died on Friday at his home here in northern Thailand. He was 76.


William Young, circa 1963.

The Thai police said he apparently killed himself. Mr. Young was found dead from a gunshot wound, a handgun next to his right hand and a crucifix in his left, the police said. He had been suffering from emphysema and numerous other ailments, his friends said.

Born in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 28, 1934, Mr. Young spent most of his life in the hills of northern Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, which was British-controlled Burma when his grandfather first arrived as a Baptist missionary in the late 1880s. His family converted countless members of the Lahu tribe to Christianity and became celebrated figures among the region’s patchwork of ethnicities.

Mr. Young’s father, Harold, was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency and led intelligence-gathering forays into southern China in the years after Mao Zedong’s Communist takeover.

William Young followed his father’s path and joined the C.I.A. after serving in the United States Army. In the early 1960s, as the war in Vietnam escalated, Mr. Young assembled an army of local tribespeople in neighboring Laos, a force that at its peak reached several thousand men.

“We used to jokingly call him the American warlord,” said Bertil Lintner, an author and longtime friend of Mr. Young’s. “He was ideally placed to organize the secret war in Laos.”

Most of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the network of jungle paths that North Vietnam used to funnel supplies southward, ran through Laotian territory. The United States wanted to interdict the supply route, rescue American pilots shot down over Laos and aid anti-Communist forces in a continuing civil war, but was hampered in doing so publicly because Laos was officially neutral. Thus, the secret war.

Missionaries were the best assets the Americans had in the region, Mr. Lintner said. “They spoke local languages and were respected.”

Mr. Young led his fighters into battles against Communist forces and directed the construction of airstrips to be used by Air America, the C.I.A.-financed airline that supplied the hill tribes with weapons and supplies. Among those he recruited was Vang Pao, the ethnic Hmong warrior who later led the C.I.A.-backed anti-Communist forces, and who died in January.

Mr. Young became disenchanted with the C.I.A. over differences in strategy. The falling out was mutual. He was dismissed from the C.I.A. in 1968 as the war in Vietnam was raging.

“He was extremely patriotic, but he felt that the American government had dealt their hand extremely clumsily in Indochina,” Mr. Lintner said.

Mr. Young went on to trade in gems, own a fruit orchard, run a guesthouse and work in Sudan as a security consultant for an oil company.

In recent years he advised the Drug Enforcement Administration on the drug trade in northern Myanmar, a hub for heroin and methamphetamine production.

Mr. Young is survived by five children and two grandchildren, said one of his sons, Jerrick Young.

In Chiang Mai, the zoo once belonged o the Young family, but was given to the government.
RIP Bill you were one of the real legends of the Golden Triangle.

My condolences & sympathy to Bills family & friends.

Check out New Mandala for other info on Bill Young & the Young family in the GT.


Mar 5, 2006
Bill Young was a truly a Legend in a time when exceptional men did extraordinary things,
of all of them Bill was held in the highest of regard by those who had BTDT back in the day.
The fact that Bill stuck to his principals and his friends, thereby falling foul of the REMFs at Langley,
was an accolade he was proud of.
I had the privilege of having some dealings with him in the early 1990s courtesy of a mutual friend
- a gallant US SF Lt. Col. and Bill's fellow Project White Star operative - whom he now joins in the CM cemetery this Wednesday.

Rest Easy & Blue Skies.

A more 'sensational' account of Bill's activities can be found here,,people,news,cia-hitman-bill-william-young-found-dead-at-his-chiang-mai-home-air-america
but it only scratches the surface of a very remarkable man's very full life.

Ian Bungy

Sep 19, 2006
Pretty Impressive Stuff!!! Amazing really that People like this are living a Normal Life right here with us and no one is even aware of it!!! Must seem a pretty Sedate Life after experiencing everything He had!!!


Mar 5, 2006
Today, in the corner of a foreign field, an unsung true American hero was laid to rest.
It was said that Bill Young is the only foreigner to have earned the honorific title of Jomo "Lord"
from his beloved Lahu people.


Bill Young was buried in Chiang Mai this Wednesday with family and some 100+ friends & comrades in attendance.
The previous evening the US Consul had given a moving eulogy at his funeral service.



The Chiang Mai VFW chapter was there to see that Honors were correctly made.
The folding of Old Glory for presentation is an art in itself.


A Green Beret and veteran of the secret war in Laos
made the presentation to Bill's son and daughters.
It was a most moving and very poignant moment.


Green Berets on parade.


HM would most assuredly
would have approved.


Feb 16, 2007
Godspeed Mr. Young. A grateful nation thanks you. Now if only the eff-ing worthless politicians would get out of the way and actually let the warriors win it for a change.

"And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us."