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Vang Pao

Former Laotian Gen. Vang Pao addressed thousands of supporters when he spoke at the Hmong International New Year celebration in December in Fresno. Vang Pao, 78, remains a hero to many in the Hmong community for leading guerrilla fighters, supported by the U.S. and armed by the CIA, in battling communist forces during the Vietnam War. (Gary Kazanjian / Associated Press)
Vang Pao
Vang Pao as a lieutenant colonel, leading Laotian troops in the Pa Dong area. (John Dominis / Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Vang Pao watches as Mayor Alan Autry touches the Lao Hmong American War Memorial after its unveiling in December 2005 in downtown Fresno. The statue depicts two Lao Hmong soldiers coming to the aid of an American pilot. (Craig Kohlruss / Fresno Bee)
Joey Thao, center, cheers in Sacramento in July 2007 after lawyers announced that the arrested Vang Pao would be released on bail. (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
A protester, holding a photo of Vang Pao as a youth, joins thousands of Hmong supporters outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento to press for his release last summer. (Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
Supporters pray for the former Laotian general’s release outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)