Thousands pay their respects to beloved Gen. Vang Pao
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The elaborate six day funeral service for General Vang Pao entered its third day Sunday in Downtown Fresno.
And now family members are expressing their outrage over the military's decision not to allow the general to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Family members did not speak at a news conference Saturday night.
A spokesperson told reporters the family is outraged and appalled that the general's final resting place won't be at Arlington.
Surrounded by several of General Vang Pao's soldiers funeral organizer Doctor Lue Vang issued a statement from the family. "We we're very disappointed to hear that the request for the burial of General Vang Pao has been denied."
The news angered thousands of Hmong at the general's funeral in Downtown Fresno.
Local Hmong advocate Paula Yang's heard a lot of resentment from the crowd. "Everyone is in tears. They're dying in the heart and say how can America let us down."
But it's not only the Hmong who are disappointed -- former U.S. military leaders who fought alongside the general are as well.
Bill Lair is a former CIA Colonel who recruited General Vang in 1961 to help lead a secret guerilla army against the communists in the Vietnam War. "I wasn't terribly surprised that it was denied. Because it's not an easy thing to do these days."
Action News was the only local television station to interview Lair.
He says the general's accomplishments and contributions to the United States make him worthy of being buried in Arlington.
But the honor can be taken away through military politics.
"The war in Laos was not a big U.S. war. In fact, most of the time they tried to deny that they were involved at all. That would make it seem, that would give them a good excuse for not putting him into Arlington."
The Secretary of the Army said Friday the grave site would deprive an American soldier of a spot at a cemetery where space is limited.
But local veterans advocate Charlie Waters says the general can take his place instead. "When you bury the husband of one of the Supreme Court people in there and you bury actors and actresses and other friends in there -- there is room. I volunteered my space."
The family says they will fight the decision by going to local congressmen in California, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The next step would be to try and get a special waiver from President Obama.
Funeral services for General Vang Pao last until Wednesday. General public viewings are taking place around the clock.
Sunday morning, Hmong rituals were held at 7 a.m., followed by a Buddhist ceremony and messages of condolences.NEWS BY LOCATION | ABC30 BLOGS | DISCUSSION FORUMS
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