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    Legacy and Laos-1st American Laotian graduates highest noncommissioned officer US Army School

    Legacy and Laos-1st American Laotian graduates highest noncommissioned officer US Army School

    Courtesy Photo | Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniel A. Dailey, poses for a photo with Sergeant Major...... read more read more



    Story by Capt. Sarah Knowlton 

    807th Medical Command (Deployment Support)

    SALT LAKE CITY-Legacy is all about leaving a mark in the pages of history and the connections that tie us together. The phrase ‘it’s a small world’ does not appear to apply to every situation, then when you investigate and dig in a little, the connections start to appear.

    What does a Laotian army secret service soldier during the Vietnam conflict have to do with the 1st Laotian American graduate from the U.S. Army’s highest enlisted school?

    Sergeant Maj. Santi Khoundet who serves as an Army Reserve noncommissioned officer with the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support), learned the answer to this question while attending the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Course, Ft. Bliss, TX.

    “It hit us (the family) hard when eight to nine months into school my father passed away,” said Khoundet. “I didn’t really do research about Laos and the war until I was at the academy and now I had a new found history and new found paths about who I am and about my dad.”

    It turns out that one of the King of Laos secret service men was Santi Khoundet’s father. While his father, Adex Sirideth Khoundet, was in the Royal Laotian Army (FAR) he assisted the American CIA in a secret program. The FAR was fighting communism and trying to counteract the North Vietnamese effort to transport enemy combatants and supplies through tunnels running under Laos, through Cambodia into South Vietnam.

    Adex Khoundet was captured during the fighting and spent two years in a prisoner of war camp. When he got out of the POW camp his family went to a refugee camp in Thailand. After a time they were sponsored to come to U.S. by Santi Khoundet’s uncle already a resident of San Diego. The family has since relocated to the city of Kearns, UT.

    While Khoundet was at school the process of checking records began, to confirm that he was also the first Laotian American to complete this high level of Army enlisted training. His graduation date was June 23, 2017.

    Khoundet’s father was a huge influence on his son. He was the main influence for Khoundet to join the army.

    “I always saw my dad in uniform and I wanted to pay back the country that gave me so much,” said Khoundet. “It was an honor for me to be at the academy, and to wear this uniform, and to kind of lead the way for the soldiers that didn’t have the opportunity to see Asian Americans in a leadership role.”

    Khoundet has a passion to continue the legacy set forth by his father. He honors his father’s integrity and the care he took as a leader in their family. Khoundet understands that he too can help form a path for other Asian Americans, junior enlisted soldiers and his own children, and he plans to do just that.



    Date Taken: 01.07.2018
    Date Posted: 01.07.2018 17:58
    Story ID: 261483
    Location: SALT LAKE CITY, UT, US 

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