The Vietnam Wall That Heals on Marco Island

Vacationers and Islanders lined the Judge S.S. Jolley Bridge and parts of Collier Boulevard on Tuesday to see some 500 motorcyclists escorting the van carrying the Vietnam Wall That Heals as it arrived on Marco Island.

For most it was a quick glimpse as the caravan came over the bridge, surprising those who thought it would come in at more of a parade pace.

Once the wall arrived at Veterans’ Community Park volunteers quickly set to work, putting together the half-size replica of the wall that resides in Washington, D.C.

The wall will be on display continuously from 7 a.m. on Wednesday to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

One of those saluting the motorcade was Peter Ward of Marco Island. He was an Air Force staff sergeant in Vietnam in 1968 during the Tet Offensive.

“It was very touching,” he said. “It was just fantastic. It was huge, they just kept coming. I thought my arm was going to fall off as I stood and saluted every one of them. I haven’t stood in salute for that long since the parades in the 1960s.”

Ward was an assistant crew chief aboard a C123 twin engine cargo plane. “We did 10 sorties a day, spraying Agent Orange poison. We went to places where you landed on tar roads in the middle of the jungle.”

While on those sorties they would land to pick up troops, to move them to other locations and to pick up those who had died.

“We did that all day long,” he said. “I sat on my flack jacket rather than wearing it, because we drew fire with bullets coming through the bottom of the plane. We’d return with 20 to 30 holes in the bottom of the plane.”

His base, Phanrang, was north of Cam Ranh Bay, a major base in Vietnam.

Ward stood on a guard rail on the Jolley Bridge, coincidently with the Marco Island sign over his left shoulder, to welcome the caravan.

“I saluted the whole parade, it was my way of honoring those guys and those who died, including some of my buddies who are on the wall that I grew up with. I’ll see them tomorrow (Wednesday).”

Ron Dixon, wife Betty and daughter Renee of Naples, rode in the caravan. He was a Marine, serving in Vietnam in 1972.

He explained that the caravan was set up by priority of Vietnam service. Those motorcyclists who received medals from their service, such as Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart, came first.

Renee, 20, said she felt honored to be involved as she heard Vietnam veterans talk of their time there.

Ron said, “It took a long time for me, and many others, to be able to talk about Vietnam. It wasn’t a popular war. I think in the last five years I have been able to open up more about being a Marine in Vietnam.”

Ray Rosenberg, one of the members of the Marco committee that brought the wall to Marco, served in the 1st of the 4th Cavalry, First Infantry Division, known as the Big Red One, retiring as a as a lieutenant colonel. He was there during the Tet Offensive in 1968 and later returned as an advisor for the Vietnam Army in the Delta.

He recalled those who died in action, how those bodies would be placed on the runways with tarps over them to be flown away and taken home.

“It was heartbreaking, but you still did your job,” he said.

“A lot of friends and acquaintances are on the wall,” he said. “The wall is a reminder to never forget, to remind young people what we went through to preserve freedom. Yet, I think if you ask any vet, nothing is proven by war. We lost 59,000 lives. War is not the answer.”

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Comments » 13

RayPray writes:

"Ward was an assistant crew chief aboard a C123 twin engine cargo plane. “We did 10 sorties a day, spraying Agent Orange poison." “We did that all day long,”

“It was very touching,” he said. “It was just fantastic...."

“we drew fire with bullets coming through the bottom of the plane."

>>> Hard to understand such ingratitude by the Vietnamese for all this 'Nation Building' by our visiting cowboys.

RayNetherwood writes:

Saw the traveling wall in Rutland, VT. It certainly is well traveled. Folks, it's worth the effort to see it. It remains, like Arlington, and US war cemetaries throughout the world, a sad statement about mankind. That despite the passage of thousands of years, we're still no better off than when one caveman believed he wanted (and had the right) to take something from the caveman next door.

Something Obama can't grasp.

John_Q_Public writes:

"Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations — entangling alliances with none." - Thomas Jefferson

blogsmog writes:

Klaus Studerbaker, still in a foul mood over the U.S. going over to europe twice and rescuing the world from his native Germany. Klaus - calm down there's no need to hate America so much, after all we run Germany now and tell it what weapons it can and cant have ...(hee hee hee...)poor Germany...

WizeOlMarco writes:

How about setting aside political differences to collectively recognize sacrifices made by your fellow Americans? Salutes to all Veterans, thanks to you and your families for your service; Freedom rings.

happy6 writes:

Amen Wize...these baffoons above have no business living in America...they are complete morons and have no sense of worth or sacrifice.

wwaldack writes:

RayPray wrote:
"With such a legion of (self-advertised) war heroes roaring their engines and strutting around the island (not to mention its friendly taverns), it's nearly impossible to imagine how we manged to lose this expensive war so ignominiously...."

First: The Loss of the VietNam (undeclared) war and the Loss of many American Service men and women can be attributed to the politics of the "Washington Establisment".

Second: The Legion of Men and Women that I saw that unselfishly amassed in great numbers did so to usher in the "half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall" and they where there only to deliver RESPECT. These riders were certainly proud escorts that were there only to remember their fallen Brothers and Sisters, those that willingly answered our Nation's call to Service.

Respect that it took too long for the "Washington Establishment" to give.

The VietNam Wall was built because Men and Women, much like the "Proud Escorts", would not forget those that died in Service for their Country.

God bless those that gave and those that remember.

Wayne Waldack

liberator100 writes:

Klaus Studebaker:
There is a great expression which you should plaster your cave's walls with. "Don't say anything when you have nothing to say". In your miserable case, you never have anything to say; but you say plenty anyway. You wear your hatred for America on your sleeve. This is the country that saved you from the hands of a dictator. This is the country that goes around the world to help those in need without asking for anything back. This is the country that is always ready to sacrifice for the truth and freedom for all. You don't understand that now; you will never understand it. Before you jump and start typing away every time you read something and comprehend only ten percent of the written word, "think". Unfortunately, I doubt you have the ability to think. If you did, your fingers would not engage before the minimal grey matter between your ears engages. Vietnam War was won by Americans in the battlefield but lost on paper by the politicians in Washington. Every name that appears on that Wall is the name of a hero. I am sure you do not know the meaning of "hero". No, it is not a sandwich you seem to gobble down twice daily. A hero is a person who answers the call, goes where ever he or she is needed in order to defend his or her principles no matter what the personal cost. America is a beautiful country, populated with beautiful and smart people, always ready to help. Stop belittling our heroes; stop belittling America and stop writing the BS you continue to write. There are heroes and there are cowards all around us and you definitely are not a hero. Change your name to marcoislandlittlemouse and stay the heck away from us.

happy34145 writes:

if you invited the people of Vietnam to leave that country without persecution and come live in America I would say 99.9% of that population would be climbing over each other to come here.
Klaus Studerbaker you must understand one thing the conscience of this great nation is steeped in sacrifice and honor..(just ask those countries of europe that Germany destroyed in WWI and WWII) where as the conscience of your native Germany is... well.. to put it truthfully to you....yikes...keep drinking Studerbaker...

happy34145 writes:

...did I touch a nerve there studerbaker?

happy34145 writes:

klaus studerbaker.. this brings us to the $64,000.00 question... why are you here?

26yearsonmarco writes:

I guess when you eat too much Sauerkraut you run the risk of becoming one.

RayPray writes:

in response to liberator100:

Klaus Studebaker:
There is a great expression which you should plaster your cave's walls with. "Don't say anything when you have nothing to say". In your miserable case, you never have anything to say; but you say plenty anyway. You wear your hatred for America on your sleeve. This is the country that saved you from the hands of a dictator. This is the country that goes around the world to help those in need without asking for anything back. This is the country that is always ready to sacrifice for the truth and freedom for all. You don't understand that now; you will never understand it. Before you jump and start typing away every time you read something and comprehend only ten percent of the written word, "think". Unfortunately, I doubt you have the ability to think. If you did, your fingers would not engage before the minimal grey matter between your ears engages. Vietnam War was won by Americans in the battlefield but lost on paper by the politicians in Washington. Every name that appears on that Wall is the name of a hero. I am sure you do not know the meaning of "hero". No, it is not a sandwich you seem to gobble down twice daily. A hero is a person who answers the call, goes where ever he or she is needed in order to defend his or her principles no matter what the personal cost. America is a beautiful country, populated with beautiful and smart people, always ready to help. Stop belittling our heroes; stop belittling America and stop writing the BS you continue to write. There are heroes and there are cowards all around us and you definitely are not a hero. Change your name to marcoislandlittlemouse and stay the heck away from us.

"Vietnam War was won by Americans in the battlefield but lost on paper by the politicians in Washington."

>>> Fairy tale. The communist armies beat our Army troops & our surrogate troops lead by William WasteMoreLand, the dumbest soldier ever to be Peter Pricipled into flag rank troops fair & square.

http://www.amazon.com/Westmoreland-Ge...

"Every name that appears on that Wall is the name of a hero."

>>> Some may be heroes, but all are really victims. To die doesn't make you a hero. To destroy the enemy and outwit his objectives accomplishes that.

"A hero is a person who answers the call, goes where ever he or she is needed in order to defend his or her principles no matter what the personal cost."

>>> Most of these unlucky guys were drafted to defend LBJ's redneck ego.

"America is...populated with beautiful and smart people..."

>>> Smart? Really ??? !!!

"...you definitely are not a hero."

>>> How can you be sure. Because he disagrees with your one-dimensioned opinion borrowed from Rambo films. Rambo did not trouble himself to go to Vietnam either....

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