Vang Pao family not pushing for Arlington

Feb. 6, 2011 at 7:37 PM

FRESNO, Calif., Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Hmong Gen. Vang Pao's family is not asking he be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, although his American comrades think he deserves the honor.

On the second day of Vang's traditional Hmong funeral in Fresno, Calif., Saturday his eldest son, Francois Chao Vang, told The Sacramento Bee his father "never expressed where he would like to be buried when he was alive."

"Maybe it's father's wish that he stay here in California, close to family," he said. "If he's there [Arlington] no one can go to see him."

Vang, who died Jan. 6, led a guerrilla army that fought alongside U.S. forces in Laos against the Communists from 1961 to 1975.

"He saved a lot of American lives," said veteran Gene Rossel.

Another veteran, Carlos L'Dera, called the Army's refusal to bury Vang at Arlington "outrageous," noting that some foreigners and non-combatants are resting there.

The Lao Veterans of America has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to reconsider.

But, said Sisouk Vang, Pang's seventh son, the family and the venerated general's followers "shouldn't have to beg for it."

Vang probably will be buried in Forest Lawn, 45 minutes from his Westminster, Calif., home, said Francois Vang.

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