Yet another piece of the Vietnam War legacy has gone to rest. After a short battle with pneumonia, Gen. Vang Pao, the leader of the Hmong people, has died at the age of 81 at a hospital in the Fresno, CA area on January 6.
Best known for his leadership during the Vietnam War, Vang was the direct contact with U.S. operatives who were engaged in covert military operations in South East Asia. Vang was in charge of the “Secret Army,” mostly Hmong and Lao fighters who helped to contain the spread of the North Vietnamese Communist regime in that region.
After the Communists were able gain control, Vang is credited with negotiating the escape of thousands of Hmong and Lao veterans out of war-torn Laos and into countries such as France, the United States, and Canada. In the United States, Vang continued his role as the leader of the Hmong people. In Minnesota, where more than 50,000 Hmong reside, Vang was a common sight at all the major events and celebrations.
There will be a candlelight vigil to remember General Vang Pao tonight (Friday, January 7) at Lao Family Community Center (320 University Ave. St. Paul, MN) at 5:00 p.m.