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Robins and Backseaters

Flying with the Ravens at Long Tieng were Hmong “backseaters” using the call sign Robin. Selected by local commanders with the approval of Laotian Major General Vang Pao, these men played a crucial role in the air war over Laos.

Mostly veteran guerilla soldiers, they translated radio calls between friendly troops on the ground and the Ravens. Once airborne, the Robins established radio contact with local units for a situation report. If units requested air support, the Robin relayed the information to the Raven in the front seat who coordinated with US forces.

The Hmong used the Robin call sign from 1969 to 1973. Before and after these years, the US Air Force simply referred to them as backseaters. In all, twenty-eight Hmong served as backseaters and Robins, with six dying in the line of duty.

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