Fred Branfman, Who Exposed Bombing of Laos, Dies at 72

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The Vietnam War was raging when Fred Branfman went to Laos in 1967 as an international aid worker. Determined to immerse himself in the society, he lived with an elderly villager, learned to speak Laotian and became a translator. In time, he met Laotians who told him something startling: There was a second war in their country, a secret American bombing campaign, that was devastating remote villages.

The revelation led him to take up a new mission when his term as an aid worker, for the nonprofit organization International Voluntary Services, ended in the summer of 1969: to bring attention to what became known as the “Secret War.”

It had gone on for years — Air Force bombers attacked parts of Laos controlled by the Communist North Vietnamese, killing thousands of Laotian civilians — but it had been invisible to most Americans.




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