LAIZA, Myanmar — American World War II veterans are still repaying what they call "debts" to an embattled ethnic group in northern Myanmar.

They've set up education, health and other programs in a remote region to help the Kachin, an ethnic group they fought alongside with against the Japanese.

Some Americans say that without the Kachin, they might never have returned home.

Both sides say the brotherly bonds they formed have not been severed despite the isolationist policies of Myanmar and a long-running conflict between the autonomy-seeking Kachin and the military-backed government.