Vietnam vet to get US honors after burial snub

Friday, May 13, 2011

LOS ANGELES — The legendary Hmong general who led a CIA-backed "secret army" during the Vietnam war is to be honored in a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, organizers said.

A US Army honor guard will join the ceremony for General Vang Pao and other military leaders at Arlington, three months after US authorities refused appeals for the veteran to be buried there, following his death in January.

An army wreath-bearer and bugler are also to help "honor the Laotian and Hmong veterans, and their American military and clandestine advisors, who served in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War," said organizers.

The event is being co-sponsored by the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., members of the US Congress, and the US Department of Defense, according to a joint statement.

Vang Pao led his hill people in Laos in a CIA-backed campaign against communist forces during the Vietnam War. Thousands of Hmong later fled to the United States speaking of persecution.

After his death aged 81 in January in California, supporters appealed to bury Vang Pao as a hero at Arlington. The Pentagon said no, arguing that the limited spaces at Arlington were reserved for US combat veterans.

There was no immediate response to requests for comment on Friday's planned event for Vang Pao.


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