HOF022: Khamtanh Pouthonephackdy

Despite the growing political and economic issues in Laos in the mid-1970’s, Khamtanh Phouthonephackdy remained in Laos from 1975 to 1978, working as a pilot for a major Laotian aviation company. During that period, he became more and more concerned by what he was experiencing. As part of his mandate, he and his crew were expected to fly many other Laotians to so-called “educational or work camps” in which many Laotians either died or disappeared. He stated that he remembered flying members of the Laos Royal family to one of the camps.

After much reflection, he and his co-pilot finally decided that they had seen enough; it was time to flee Laos. They chose to swim across the Mekong River to Thailand where they lived in the Nong Khai refugee camp for a lengthy period of time. After settling in the refugee camp for a few weeks, he hired some fellow Laotians to search for his family in his hometown and bring them to the refugee camp.

He and his family eventually immigrated to Canada where they settled in Ottawa. The family was very grateful to their sponsors who showered them with kindness and supported their settlement in their new home.