Mourners Salute Beloved Hmong Leader Gen. Vang Pao

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A horse-drawn carriage holding the body of the late Gen. Vang Pao passed thousands of sobbing mourners in military uniform and traditional Hmong dress.

   Crowds gathered in downtown Fresno on Friday to begin an elaborate, six-day funeral service.

   Vang Pao’s large extended family — including his 25 surviving children — as well as the former CIA officials who recruited him to lead a secret army during the Vietnam War followed his flag-draped casket.

   Once the casket was lowered, a veterans’ color guard saluted and bagpipes sounded as a flight team flew over the mourners.

   The general died at age 81 on Jan. 6 near Fresno, and is revered as a leader and father figure by the Hmong and Lao people he helped to resettle across the globe once Saigon fell.

   (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)


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