US-LAOS-VIETNAM-WAR-HMONG-VANGPAO

Hmong war veterans form an honor guard as they wait for the casket containing Hmong war hero and community leader General Vang Pao during the start of his five day funeral in Fresno, Central California on February 4, 2010. Vang Pao, who died last month in California at 81, led the CIA-backed "secret army" that assisted the United States during the Vietnam War. The Hmong, a hill people, suffered persecution after Laos fell to the communists in 1975. The legendary guerrilla leader, who died on January 6, commanded thousands of fighters in the 1960s and 70s in the US-funded covert war against Vietnamese and Lao communist forces. When the Washington-backed Lao royal government fell in 1975, Vang Pao fled to the United States, where he was credited with helping negotiate the resettlement in America of tens of thousands of fellow Hmong. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON

January 2, 2018 2:29 PM (UTC+8)