Ho Chi Bear & The Ravens

Drummed out of Vietnam, misfit American pilots had a choice: Face the music of military justice or go someplace where oddballs and rule breakers were appreciated. Dubbed the Ravens, they soon learned they could fly, fight, and drink as they pleased in a CIA-sponsored secret war. There was just one catch: They answered to General Vang Pao.

Lucas Reilly
May 20 · 36 min read
Listen to the audio version of this story from Audm.
Hmong fighters
General Vang Pao by John Willheim

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Left to right: General Vang Pao, leader of the Hmong Forces; Fred Platt, a Texas flyboy with an outsized personality; Anthony Poshepny, a CIA agent in Laos thought to be the real-life inspiration for Stanley Kubrick’s version of Colonel Kurtz

With fixed, unblinking armored eye,

He calmly steered Fred through the sky.

The Critter flew without rebuke,

For unlike some he’d never puke.

While Navy poges may claim his doom,

The Critter shot down Colonel Tomb.

Alas the Critter had to fall,

To something that can claim us all.

T’was “Mother’s Ruin” did him in:

A tiny sip of Bombay gin.



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Truly*Adventurous

Truly*Adventurous is a media company conceived in a spirit of adventure and built with reckless faith in the power of punch-’em-in-the-teeth longform storytelling. We commission original true stories from the world’s best nonfiction artists.

Lucas Reilly

Written by

Writer, editor, musician. Former senior editor at mental_floss magazine. Currently a cruise ship pianist.

Truly*Adventurous

Truly*Adventurous is a media company conceived in a spirit of adventure and built with reckless faith in the power of punch-’em-in-the-teeth longform storytelling. We commission original true stories from the world’s best nonfiction artists.