Earlier this spring I was assigned to photograph General Vang Pao's funeral in Fresno, Ca. During the Vietnam War, the General was appointed by the CIA to lead a guerrilla army into battle against communist troops along the Ho Chi Minh trail. He then helped thousands of Hmong exile to the United States. This was my first introduction to Hmong culture despite having traveled to SE Asia so many times before. I was in awe of the traditions, and yet familiar with the culture in a way that reminded me of my mother's side of the family. The elderly were held with the utmost respect. And while one elder could grant you a wish, another one could easily as deny it. Fortunately, the elders allowed me to photograph very close to their family during this time of mourning, with a gracious thank you to the reporter.
Please have a listen to Doualy Xaykaothao's very touching story, and view the slideshow of my pictures: The General, His Sisters, and Me