During the uneasy truce existing in Laos, American helicopters have continued flying supplies of food and ammunition to pockets of Royal Laotian troops who had been engaged in Guerilla warfare in the mountains near the Plateau of Xieng Kuouang, north of Vientiane.
MLS Helicopters landing.
MLS Meo tribesmen watching.
MLS Supplies unloaded.
MS More supplies unloaded (F/G) and another helicopter landing (B/G).
MS Tribesmen watching.
MS Tribesmen carrying grass for roofing huts.
MLS Tribesmen with grass (RA).
MS Cutting wood for huts.
LS Roofing the huts.
MS Women getting water from well.
MS Men cutting buffalo meat.
MS Interior of hut with food cooking over fire.
CU Meo women, with ornate lead-dress.
CU Colonel Vanpao.
CU From map TU to Colonel explaining operations.
ML Colonel Vanpao.
MS Young Meo guerillas.
LS Helicopters prepare to leave.
MS Helicopter takes off.
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Background: During the uneasy truce existing in Laos, American helicopters have continued flying supplies of food and ammunition to pockets of Royal Laotian troops who had been engaged in Guerilla warfare in the mountains near the Plateau of Xieng Kuouang, north of Vientiane.
Members of the local 'Meo' tribe are seen looking on with interest May 15 as the helicopters were unloaded. They were cutting grass to roof their bamboo huts, preparing buffalo meat for the troops, and looking after the poppies from which comes opium -- the only product which they sell. They are also skilled silversmiths and make ornate jewellery for their women.
Commander of the troops in the area is Colonel Vanpao, himself a Meo, who leads about ten thousand regular soldiers plus the 'Meo' guerillas in the area. The Meos and other hill tribes have been fighting on both sides in the civil war and it is estimated that 60 per cent of the Pathet Lao forces are tribesmen from the mountains.
The Meo tribe - a warrior race with a tradition of fighting - migrated from China to Laos in the first century A.D. and settled in the hills. Today, they only live above the 3,000 ft. level and if they move to lower areas they become ill because of the change of air.
Reports say that as recently as May 19 the Soviet airlift to the Pathet Lao rebels was at the relatively high rate of 10 to 12 planes loads a day. This compares with the "routine average" of five to eight loads a day in the past few months.