Friday, February 4, 2011

Hmong Major General Pao Denied Burial At Arlington National Cemetery By Department Of Army

Major General Vang Pao

Pao's family gets word during the first day of a six day funeral service about the U.S. Army's decision to deny General Pao the honor to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 4, 2011

Fresno, California – On Friday, Hmong Major General Vang Pao's family gets word that the review Arlington National Cemetery Board made up of senior military and civilian officials unanimously denied a request made by Congressman Jim Costa and other Congressmen to allow General Pao to be buried at the national cemetery. Pao, 81, died on January 6 at the Clovis Community Medical Center in Fresno from complications with pneumonia. Family members had asked Congressman Costa to request for an exception for Pao to be buried at the cemetery. The cemetery burials are reserved only for men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces.
The first of a six day funeral service began on Friday, when word reached Pao's family and thousands of mourners at the funeral service.
Army Spokeperson Garry Tallman informed Congressman Costa that Army Secretary John McHugh had reviewed the exception request from Costa and the unanimous decision made by the review Board to deny Pao burial at the cemetery. McHugh accepted the Board's decision. Congressman Costa is expected to speak with McHugh about his decision and will also try to get Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack H. Obama to grant an exception to the Arlington National Cemetery eligibility burial policy.
In January 11, Congressman Costa requested in a letter to the Army that Major General Pao be granted eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The letter was also signed by Congressmen Dennis Cardoza, Madeleine Bordallo and Tim Holden, which was sent on behalf of the General’s family to both Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, according to a press release.
Major General Pao of the Royal Lao Army led thousands of Hmong soldiers during the Secret War, fighting with the United States against the People’s Army of Vietnam. Costa says Major General Pao deserves the honor to be buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. 

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