Vietnam Wall Replica Makes Stop

As many scanned the West Virginia Vietnam Veterans Mobile Wall for the names of loved ones who were killed, prisoners of war or missing in action, state Sen. Robert “Rocky” Fitzsimmons, D-Wheeling, reflected on the speech he’d prepared for a service held to mark its arrival at Wellsburg’s Central Park Monday.

Fitzsimmons, who serves on the state Legislature’s veterans affairs committee, said the wall helps to pay tribute to the 732 West Virginians who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. He said the state had the highest number or casualties per capita in the Vietnam War, and many West Virginians continue to make sacrifices as they serve in the U.S. military.

Fitzsimmons said with conflicts boiling in various parts of the world today, it’s important for Americans to remember and pray for our servicemen and women.

“No matter what our positions on policy may be, we have to support our troops through our thoughts and our prayers,” he said.

In addition to the 732 who died while serving in the war, the wall bears the names of 17 who were prisoners of war or declared missing in action. Established in 2013 by the West Virginia State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America in Nemours, W.Va., the wall is similar in design to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

It differs in that it bears the names of West Virginians only. Leaders of the council said their goal is to take the wall throughout the state for people unable to view the monument in Washington or mobile replicas that travel throughout the U.S.

It will be on display through today, and visitors may create etchings from the wall using materials supplied by the council.

Greg Cheeks of Wellsburg said when he learned of the wall, he set out to raise the money needed to bring it to Brooke County.

“After six months of planning, it finally came together,” he said after it was assembled Monday morning by members of the Patriot Guard Riders and other volunteers.