Edwin T. "Win" McKeithen


Paul Hillmer

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Edwin “Win” McKeithen was born in Old Greenwich Connecticut. After attending Williams College for two years he quit school and joined International Voluntary Services in the Fall of 1962. Instead of being sent to Vietnam, as he expected, he went to Laos just as the Geneva Accords were going into effect. After working in the north for two years, he was reassigned to the Bolovens Plateau where he worked for another year before returning to the US to finish college. He returned to Laos to work for the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the fall of 1966, stationed at Sam Thong. He remained there until 1971, when Sam Thong was overrun and his father died, sending him back to Connecticut. In his absence the Sam Thong operation moved to Ban Xon, where McKeithen returned later that year. There he remained until the Vientiane Accords were signed in 1973. Next he worked in Vientiane in USAID’s program offices where his responsibilities included the refugee and public health programs, where he worked closely with Dr. Charles Weldon. He witnessed the evacuation of American personnel from Vientiane in May 1975 and remained behind for a few weeks to ascertain the Communist Party’s negotiating strategy before he was sent back to Washington, DC. After writing his reports he followed Dr. Weldon to Haiti in 1975 before receiving an assignment to Bangkok in 1979 to help with the postwar refugee crisis and later USAID Thailand public health programs. He returned to Washington for four years before returning to Bangkok for another five years working once again in public health. He returned to Laos in 1991, 1997, and finally in 2002. Mr. McKeithen spoke extensively about his remembrances of his service in Laos and Thailand and the individuals with which he worked, including General Vang Pao, Pop Buell and Dr. Charles Weldon.

This interview was conducted in an outdoor courtyard at a hotel in Chiang Rai, Thailand.


Some rights reserved. Others may copy, distribute, display, or perform verbatim copies of this work with attribution to the author and original source information cited. No modification, remixing, or adaptation of this work may be created without the written permission of Dr. Paul Hillmer, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Concordia University, St. Paul or the Concordia University Library and Archives.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.



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