May Song Vang, wife of the late Gen. Vang Pao dies at 62

FRESNO, Calif.

May Song Vang was 62-years-old when she passed away Monday away from health complications at a Southern California hospital. Her life has become a symbol of the Hmong people.

The recent death of May Song Vang sent shockwaves throughout the Hmong community.

"I view general Vang Pao as a mother and a father to me. When I heard she passed away, it was like my mother passing away," said Mai Thao translator for Youa Thao from Fresno.

Youa Thao said through a translator, that she has looked up to May Song since she was a young girl. Her death came as deep loss for all in the community. For decades, she stood side by side with the general. When he passed in 2011, she carried on his legacy and unified the people during a troubling time. Still many are in shocked over her passing.

"On Saturday I went to visit her and I stayed there until yesterday and I witnessed her in her last few moments at 10 p.m." said Mai Thao, translator for Nhi Long Vang.

Nhi Long Vang, May Song Vang's brother in law, says May Song Vang was a pioneer, a veteran and friend to all.

"She was a very well respected person, especially to women in the Hmong community because she was the first to go to school as a woman back in Laos and also enter into the medicine and treatment for the soldiers," Vang said.

"I think that was part of her legacy that she wanted to leave to change the dynamics of the community to let our young folks know that it's not about the young boys or men, it's also about the young women as well, that's going to help our community move forward," said Blong Xiong, Fresno City Council President.

As the community considers a new future without those that led the way, they hope to never forget the work of the general and his wife.

"We are sorrowful and we are a little bit hopeless right now because we have really important people in our lives missing," Youa Thao said.

May Song Vang's funeral is planned for August 23 through 26. A location is still being finalized.

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