Veterans committee preparing for Vietnam Wall stop

Members of the Special Veterans Project Committee at a meeting in the City Park Pavilion Tuesday were, from left, Mike Tucker, president of the West Virginia Federal Credit Union; Bud Newbrough, VFW Post 1212; Rick Rubin; Bill Shepherd, chairman of the committee; Teresa Hinkle; Joe Nelson; Roy Trembly, executive officer of the Mid-Ohio Valley Platoon of the Marine Corps Veterans Association, and Bernie Lyons, commander of the Mid-Ohio Valley Platoon of the Marine Corps Veterans Association. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

PARKERSBURG — For the first time since 2014 a traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall will be in Parkersburg City Park in September.

Bill Shepherd, chairman of the Special Veterans Project Committee, said the wall is a tribute.

“All of the names listed on it make it a healing wall, and it gives those who come closure,” he said.

During a meeting of the committee Tuesday, Shepherd said they want to make the visit of the replica wall in City Park a memorable event.

“I want to make this as elaborate as we can get,” he said. “We’re going to try to get the Air Force Drill Team in, I spoke with Delegate John Kelly about it and he thinks we might get them but he can’t guarantee it.”

Shepherd said he would like for all the flags in the state to be at half-staff during the Vietnam Traveling Wall visit to the state to show respect for those whose names are on the wall and for their families.

“There were more West Virginians killed in Vietnam per capita than any other state,” he said. “We owe it to them to do the best we can do on this and make it probably more elaborate than it has been in the past. It we can’t get the flags lowered in the state we at least want them lowered in the park.”

Shepherd said the time line for the wall is to leave Ripley at 3 p.m. on Sept. 26 and arrive at City Park for opening ceremonies at 6 p.m. Shepherd said setup will begin at 7 a.m. the next day for the wall to be open to visitors beginning at noon Sept. 27 until noon Sept. 30. Then the wall will be taken down to move to the next location on its tour.

Shepherd said they hope to have a procession in Wood County that could be miles long.

“Sheriff Steve Stephens said he would give us all the cruisers we want,” he said. “The Vienna police will provide cruisers, I’m sure the state will provide cruisers and the City of Parkersburg as well as both ambulance companies.”

Unlike the most recent wall event, Shepherd said the wall will be set up in an asphalt area near the baseball field instead of a grass area.

In addition to that, he said they want all of the school bands to participate in the opening and perhaps have them perform the service organizations songs as a single group. He said the program could include speakers and the drill team.

Shepherd said all volunteers for the assembly must be at least 18.

“If they have reason to think someone among the volunteers is not 18, they could shut it down and leave and we’ll lose our money,” he said.

Shepherd said they need to raise $10,000 for the visit. He said they have paid $4,000 to reserve the dates and another $4,500 is due 45 days before the arrival date. He added if there are enough volunteers to help with the assembly $500 will be refunded within 14 days after the wall leaves the area.

Shepherd said there are at least three traveling walls and the one coming to Parkersburg is from AVTT Traveling Vietnam Wall. He said if they raise more than needed it will give them a headstart to raise funds for another stop. He said the committee would like to bring the memorial to the area every two to three years.

Shepherd said they are planning fundraising activities. Those include selling T-shirts at local events and a bike run from City Park tentatively set for July 21.

Donations can also be made to an account set up for the organization at the West Virginia Central Federal Credit Union; checks can be made payable to the Special Veterans Projects with Vietnam Traveling Wall in the memo line.

Another meeting has been set for 7 p.m. April 3 in the City Park office in the City Park Pavilion.