Hundreds of Hmong tribesmen gathered near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for a ceremony recognizing their efforts in the CIA's "secret war" in Laos in the 1960s and 1970s.

The former soldiers, who wore military fatigues to the ceremony Wednesday, watched a wreath-laying at the memorial before walking to Arlington National Cemetery.The ceremony was organized by the Laos Veterans of America because "there has never, never been any type" of ceremony in Washington to recognize the Hmong's participation in the war, said Philip Smith, the group's Washington director.

The "secret war" run by the Central Intelligence Agency relied heavily on employing Hmong tribesmen - then called the Meo - as proxy fighters against Laotian communists and their Vietnamese allies.