'It is not right': Bill offers hope that flyers of CIA's Air America will finally win recognition

By: Mike Glenn (Washington Times)

Neil Hansen racked up an astounding 9,000 combat hours in the skies over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnam War era. But he wasn’t a military pilot.

For more than a decade, Mr. Hansen flew for Air America, the shadowy passenger and cargo airline owned and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. Now 83, he and his surviving colleagues would like the official recognition — and the retirement benefits given to others who fought in the war — they have been denied for decades.

“I flew the last plane out of Cambodia,” Mr. Hansen said during an interview with The Washington Times.

A bill now working its way through Congress, called the Air America Act of 2021, is offering some hope for Air America veterans. If signed into law, the bill would make them eligible for federal benefits and their work will be formally acknowledged by the CIA.

Rep. Glenn Grothman, Wisconsin Republican, introduced the bipartisan bill in the House with 55 original co-sponsors.

“It is not right to continue to ignore Air Americans,” he said. “These patriots risked their lives, many of them giving their life, fighting communism in the same way members of the Air Force did.”

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