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Traveling Vietnam memorial opening brings emotions

Vietnam veterans along with friends and family of survivors and those killed in the war attended the grand opening of the Vietnam Veterans Traveling Memorial Wall and Museum at Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium on Thursday morning.

It was a very emotional moment for those who fought in the Vietnam War and for those who lost loved ones in the war.

Vietnam veteran William Crosby of Scottsburg spent 12 months in Vietnam and said he was lucky enough not to have sustained any injuries.

He never has been to the wall in Washington, D. C., but said this local opportunity allowed him to take a look at all the names and pay his respects.

“It means a whole lot of men died for our country and are not coming home,” Crosby said when asked what the traveling wall means to him.

 Allen Lloyd, another Vietnam veteran and South Boston resident, said the wall stands for an America still worth living in, serving and dying for.

Suffering from post-traumatic syndrome, Lloyd said the wall helps him to find closure, but the healing is always ongoing.

“It’s good to see that they finally did recognize those people who gave sacrifices,” he said.

The Rev. Mattie Carr, wife of state American Legion Chaplain Frank Carr, said she came out to pay her respects to her brother, Otis Green, and the other servicemen on the wall who gave their lives.

Although she has visited the wall in Washington, D. C., she said every time you see it, it still is as emotional as the first time.

“It’s one way of remembering he was among all those who died for their country and how much he loved the Marine Corp since he was a child,” Carr said. “It was his life’s dream, and having one month left to serve he was killed as two of our helicopters collided in mid air. The wall is a way to let all those involved know they have not been forgotten.”

Carr’s brother was only 19 when he died.

The guest speaker for the Thursday morning grand opening ceremony was South Boston Town Manager Ted Daniel, Lt. Col. U. S. Air Force (ret.). He was introduced by County School Superintendent Dr. Merle Herndon.

According to Herndon, Daniel has served as South Boston manager since 1998 and graduated from the University of Alabama in 1966 with a bachelor’s in business and received a master’s in public administration from Auburn University in 1987.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the United States Air Force upon his graduation in 1966.  He completed pilot training and was assigned to the strategic Air Command Flying B-52D aircraft. Between 1968 and 1973, he completed 280 combat missions in Southeast Asia including 50 missions over North Vietnam. In December 1972 he flew the lead aircraft for B—52 formations bombing in the Hanoi and Haiphong target areas on five separate missions.

During the 11-day bombing campaign, 10 B-52s were shot down over North Vietnam and five others were damaged and crashed in Laos and Thailand. Twenty- eight B-52 crewmembers were killed or missing in action, another 33 became prisoners of war, and 26 more were rescued. The effectiveness of the B-52 bombing campaign in December 1972 is credited by many for expediting the end of the war in early 1973.

Daniel’s military decorations include a legion of merit, a distinguished flying cross with two oak leaf clusters, a meritorious service medal with three oak leaf clusters, air medal with 14 oak leaf clusters and a air force commendation medal with one oak leaf cluster.

Daniel said while he has been town manager for about 14 years, many still did not know of his military background. The Air Force Colonel and Vietnam veteran said the Army and Marines fought the real war in the jungles. 

The wall, he said, not only has the names of those people in combat but those who served in supporting war roles as well.

Daniel explained it is hard for some veterans to approach the wall because it’s “very emotional” for them.

“The point that I wanted to make was to some ill-informed people who may have a tendency to think this is just a marble wall in Washington with names inscribed on it, but it’s much more than a wall, and people were really affected by the war and what happened there,” Daniel said.

He shared his experience in Vietnam with the crowd and told the story of one of his fellow crewmembers who survived a plane crash in Thailand only to lose his life senselessly on Sept. 11 while working in the Pentagon.

Following Daniel’s speech, Jennifer Roark read the names of those people from Halifax County whose names are listed on the wall, and Herndon officially opened the wall to the public. 

 

Vietnam war casualties from Halifax County include:

1st Lt. Robert E. Carmichael, 28, of Vernon Hill

 Sergeant James W. Carr, 25, of Nathalie

 Specialist 4 Calvin Edmunds, 21, of Halifax 

 1st Class Private Cecil Wayne Epps, 19, of Halifax

 Specialist 4 Jimmy Anderson Ingram, 20, of Nathalie

 Corporal Donald Wayne Tisdale, 21, of Nathalie

 1st Class Private Raymond Christopher Lawson, 19, of Virgilina 

 Sergeant Harvey Ray Neal, 20, of South Boston

 Specialist 4 James Wallace Rudd, 20, of Halifax 

 Specialist 4 James Edward Palmer, 23, of Halifax

 Specialist 4 Henry Eugene Russell, 22, of South Boston

 Sergeant Clem Spencer Lowery Jr., 26, of Chesapeake (HCHS  1961 grad)

 Lance Corporal Ronald Charles Edwards, 19, of New Rochelle, N.Y.

 Lance Corporal Charley A. Wilborn, 22, Richmond

 

 

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