Whatever Happened...

An update on past news

Wednesday, October 9, 1996


Exiled Lon Nol
died in California

QUESTION: What happened to former Cambodian president Lon Nol, who lived in Hawaii Kai for a time after his 1975 ouster?

ANSWER: Lon Nol, who fled from the communist Khmer Rouge whose victory ushered in the era of "The Killing Fields," died in Fullerton, Calif., Nov. 17, 1985. He was 72.

Lon Nol went into exile in Hawaii in April 1975 with his wife and eight children and made his home here for four years before moving to Southern California.

He lived for a time at 811 Kumukahi Place in Hawaii Kai but later moved to Nanakuli, declaring that the Hawaii Kai home was too big. The Kumukahi Place house later was bought by then-little known businessman Ronald Rewald.

In 1978, the exiled president narrowly escaped injury in an accident with an overturned truck on the H-1 freeway near Aiea.

Lon Nol led the coup against Cambodian Prince Norodom Si hanouk in 1970. He declared Cambodia a republic but soon began to rule as a dictator. He suffered a stroke in 1971 and gave up many duties. But in 1972, he set up a new government with himself as president.

The New York Times said at his death that when he was forced out in 1975, he left behind a legacy of corruption and military defeat. As the anti-communist Cambodian army under Lon Nol grew in numbers with U.S. aid, corruption also grew, the New York Times said.

"Some commanders and recruiters began taking the pay of nonexistent soldiers, and other commanders would sometimes not pay the troops who did exist. Hungry soldiers often resorted to pillaging villages, alienating the peasants from the government cause."



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