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Waving flags greet arrival of Vietnam War Memorial and Museum

Dozens of veterans on motorcycles — Patriot Guard Riders and Rolling Thunder riders — escorted the traveling Vietnam War Memorial and Museum into South Boston on Tuesday afternoon. 

The parade of cyclists began at the Annin Flag Company and ended at the Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium where the memorial wall will be on display through Sunday.

As the procession passed many local shops and businesses along the parade route, spectators waved flags and cheered on the veterans.

Employees at Davis Reality proudly displayed flags and patriotic balloons as they watched the veterans parade toward the middle school stadium.

“I think it is wonderful. I’m proud
of the men who gave there lives for
our county and for our freedom,” said a teary-eyed Sherryl Jones of Davis Realty.

 “It’s a great idea because when the vets came home, it was such an unpopular war that they didn’t get the respect they deserved,” added Dewey Compton, also of Davis Reality.

 Scotty Felton said, “It’s quite touching, and we owe a lot to our service people.”

According to Bob Dobek, who serves as site manager of the traveling memorial along with his wife, Brenda, South Boston is the third stop of the year for the memorial. 

The wall previously made stops in Columbus, Ohio and Columbus, Georgia. Their next stop is Goldsboro, N.C., and from there the wall will make three stops in Illinois, a stop in Maryland, a stop in New Jersey, a stop in Massachusetts, two stops in Iowa, a stop in Colorado, two stops in California, two stops in Washington state, two stops in Montana and one stop in Idaho.

Each week the memorial travels to a new location where it remains for up to six days.

Dobek said the wall is typically escorted into town on Tuesdays, set up on Wednesdays and torn down on Sunday or first thing Monday morning before heading to the next location.

The group does this about 10 months out of the year.

It takes approximately three hours to set up the memorial and one hour to set up the attached tent, and it takes two hours to take down the memorial.

As the site managers of the memorials and museum, Dobek and his wife are responsible for setting up, establishing and maintaining the wall and the tractor-trailer, which also serves as a traveling museum.

Dobek said as many as 50,000 people have seen the memorial in  a typical four-day week.

“It’s always emotional for those who have served or those who have had family who died,” Dobek said.

He added the traveling memorial if for those who can’t or won’t make it to D.C.

The traveling memorial stands 5-feet-tall and 125-feet-long and holds 58,282 names, eight of which are women.

Dobek said the most touching story he has heard about one of the men on the wall is the story of Dan Bullock from Bronx, New York. 

According to Dobek, Bullock was 15-years-old when he fought in the Vietnam War. He had lied about his age and used his brother’s birthday. He was killed in the line of duty and never made it back home.

 According to Faye Satterfield who was instrumental in bringing the wall to South Boston, 14 names of Halifax County residents can be found on the wall, and they have located pictures for 10 of these men.

The wall and museum will be open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until it closes at 7 p.m.

Hours for the memorial and museum are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

Bike Day will be Saturday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., and bikers are encouraged to bring their bikes and pay tribute to the veterans.

Smokin’ Jakes Restaurant will host a bikers’ brunch all day for bikers attending the exhibit. Rolling Thunder, Charlotte County Chapter, will perform a Missing Man ceremony at noon.