Wednesday, July 29, 2015

California XIV

One of the largest Lao Hmong populations in the U.S. is in Fresno, California. They came here after the fall of Saigon and their 15 year efforts to assist the U.S. in 'Nam. It is estimated that no fewer than 35,000 of these brave souls gave their lives supporting the U.S.efforts in Vietnam.

The memorial sits in a park in Fresno and depicts two Hmong soldiers assisting a downed American pilot.

The Secret War as it is known was waged primarily in Laos with the support of the Hmong. It took many years for the government to admit that this was actually going on. When Vietnam fell, so did Laos and these people were completely displaced. There is another memorial in Wisconsin and a very large Hmong community in Minnesota, too.

Here, the Hmong soldier attempts to call for help as his comrade tries to comfort the pilot.

I particularly like the detail of the American flag on the back of the pilot's helmet

The memorial rests in Court House Park, outside the Fresno County Court House on Van Ness Avenue.

Our next visit, on the 3rd, will be to Colorado, so meet me there. as always. at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from California, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Arizona VIII

Sedona is world famous for its beauty and I must say that on my first visit here, it certainly lives up to its reputation. The rock formations are just breath taking and as a playground of those with some cash, you cam well imaging what some of the homes are like.

However, there is also a Veteran's Memorial in the town and this is what caused me to drove from Tucson, just to see it.

It looks as if it is in the middle of the desert, here, but it is actually on the corner of a very busy intersection.
( 25 Northview Road )

As I entered the site, a group of young people were sitting on one of the benches inside. They were maybe 12, or so. As I walked in and saw that the site had several Walls covered with names, one of  kids spoke right up and said, "Hi mister, my grand dad is on that wall."

Being a little unsure of what that meant, I asked her if these Walls were for any who served or those we had lost. she said, "Oh, it's for everyone, my grand dad is OK."

I told her I was glad to hear that and I asked her to show me his name and she gladly did so. I asked what war was your grand dad in and she said, Vietnam. The names on the walls are not war specific, but this was all the connection I needed to want to include this site here. Further research has not turned up anyone from Sedona hat was lost in the war.

The little girls Grandfather is William N. Howard.

 You will note that The Sedona 30 were involved in the creation of this site. they are a group of citizens who formed an organization more than 30 years ago to work towards "the betterment of Sedona." They certainly met that goal here.

There are a couple of other interesting pics from this site, but I will post them at another time.

Next time, on the 29th, we visit California, once again, so join me there at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Arizona, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Virginia XI

Alexandria is a suburb of Washington D.C. and is rich with it's own history since before the American Revolution. Its taverns and pubs, some of which are still in operation today were often the meeting places and idea generators that led to our own independence.

Many will see the connection, then, between this famous city and the desire for and movement towards independence of South Vietnam.

The memorial, here, honors those from Alexandria who died in the pursuit of that dream: 67, in all.

Prominent, here, is a statue of Humbert Roque "Rocky" Versace, a Green Beret Captain captured two weeks before he rotated home.

While in captivity, he went out of his way to be uncooperative and scornful of his captors. He refused to answer questions and insulted them at every opportunity. One can well imagine how well that went over and how his treatment deteriorated and the price he paid. In addition, with three untreated bullet wounds, he tried to escape 3 times.

He was, eventually, separated from all other prisoners and the last time anyone heard from him, he was signing God Bless America at the top of is lungs. For all of this, he was executed on September 26th, 1965, after nearly two years in captivity. His body has never been located, he lies somewhere, known only to God, in the jungles of Vietnam.

His friends and comrades remembered him and his bravery and told the stories that, eventually, led to his being awarded a Medal of Honor quite some years later. The MOH and all of his awards are on display in the foyer of the community center. I will feature some of those in a future post.

He spoke of leaving the military upon his return home, entering the seminary to become a Maryknoll priest and returning to work with orphans in Vietnam. He was well known for his  efforts in behalf of the children in 'Nam.

He is the only POW to receive a n MOH for his efforts as a POW.
Next time, on the 24th, we will revisit Arizona . So, join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see additional memorials from Virginia, or any other state, click on the state name on the left side of this page.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Texas XII

San Antonio, perhaps best known for being the home of The Alamo, also, boasts a magnificent Vietnam memorial.

It sits in Veteran's Memorial Plaza adjacent to the historic St. Mark's Episcopal Church, where Robert E. Lee attended services before the Civil War and, later, Lyndon Johnson and "Lady Bird" were married. Part of it's magnificent facade can be see in the pictures.

The statue, Hill 881, South was created by Austin Deuel, of Scottsdale, AZ. He based it upon a scene he actually witnessed while on Hill 881." He points out that contrary to some reports, the two soldiers are NOT specific individuals and are meant to be symbolic of "Man's compassion for his fellow man."

The memorial was trucked from Scottsdale to San Antonio by a team who were Vietnam vets and they were escorted by many more, including over 300 bikers who saw it safely to its final resting place.

There are a number of other interesting stories and anecdotes associated with this memorial. If you are interested, you can see them here;

In addition, I will post additional photos in a future post, so keep an eye out for it.

Next time, we will take another trip all the way back to Virginia, so join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from Texas, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

South Dakota XVI

I drove around South Dakota on a free day. I stumbled on to several memorials that I had been unaware of at the time. This is not unusual as there is no central database of Vietnam memorials. The V.V.A. tried for some time to compile the data but eventually had to give up. Someday, I would like to see this accomplished. For now, I hope that this site will serve as a beginning.

Huron had a memorial in a park for about 20 years that very few knew about and when a nearby building needed expansion, it was decided to more the memorial to a more public place. The memorial honors those who perished in our most recent wars and was recently updated to include those lost in the middle east.

The Vietnam portion lists the 10 from the area who made the ultimate sacrifice.

The town has plans to add statues and a wall listing all who served from the area, but as of 2014 work had not been started. I'll post more as I learn it.

Huron is located in Beadle county and the memorial may be found on the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and 3rd Street.

Our next stop, on the14th, will be back in Texas.  So, join me there, as always, at 9:00am.

To see other memorials from South Dakota, or any other state, click the state name on the left side of this page.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Independence Day 2015

Followers know that at certain times of the year I choose to write about something other than Vietnam Memorials; Thanksgiving, Christmas, Veteran's Day, Memorials Day and others.

I have been thinking a lot recently about Independence Day and what it means. I guess if we asked 100 people we might get 100 different answers, but I think that it represents the bravery and thoughtful consideration of some very great men. Men who wanted freedom from tyranny and freedom to make their own choices, to establish rights for the common people, to live as they chose to live. A struggle that continues to this very day.

It got me thinking about how many have been willing to defend, often to their death, this dream. I went looking for this information and was, quite honestly, astonished at the numbers and some of the events, which I had never even heard of prior to seeing the list.

The numbers are staggering.

Since 1775, 664,440 have been lost in combat, more, 673,929 were lost to other war related incidents for a total of 1,354,644 lost, add to that the wounded and it doubles, again, 2,852,901.

These numbers are, of course, not exact or completely up to date as they change all the time. Recently, in May of 2015 several more names were added to the Vietnam Memorial, bringing the total to over 58, 300.

Vietnam ranks as the 4th highest loss rate of American wars, behind only the Civil Wat, WWI and WWII. Korea is 5th on the list and cost almost as many as Vietnam, but in far fewer years. Vietnam averaged 11 deaths a day while Korea averaged 45.

So, as we celebrate our founding and our freedoms lets also remember and honor the, literally, millions who made them possible.

Here, if you are interested, is the source of this information. Wiki is often criticized for inaccuracy and as I said these numbers can never really be known, but the number of involvements is astonishing, so check it out.

The 4th of July was one of my favorite holidays in my youth. Summer, school was out, picnics, hot dogs and watermelon and fireworks, what kid could ask for more. Then, of course, I didn't really, deeply. fully, understand about the sacrifice, pain, and death that all of this encompassed. Now, I have a better idea and it saddens me. I don't much care for the holiday any longer. It is not that I don't respect and treasure the Founding Fathers, their efforts and the costs paid by those supporting these new ideas, no, it is that I no longer like the smell of the fireworks or the noise associated with them. It brings back too mush. I go every year because my son, years ago, and now his children, like all children, like me as a boy, enjoy it. I hope every year that just maybe this year will be better, but it never is. Sometimes, later in the evening, I watch the rerun of the fireworks on The Mall in D.C. on PBS and this is usually better; No noise, no smell of cordite. I will continue to go for the kids as long as they are interested, but am not sure what will happen after that. Perhaps, I will have moved on some more and it will be OK, but I doubt it, after all, it has been 50 years. I have no way to elegantly end this, so...

I'll end with a little historical side note.

Sometimes, it seems even the things we think we know are not so! We celebrate Independence Day, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, on July 4th, but that is not the actual day the Declaration
was signed. It was signed on July 2nd, but the printer did not get around to printing it until the 4th, hence he dated it the 4th and the rest as we say, is history!

Next time, on the 9th we will return to South Dakota, so join me there at 9:00am.

To see Vietnam memorials from any state, click the state name on the left side of this page.