Mobile Vietnam memorial coming to Forest Festival

Submitted photo The West Virginia State Council Vietnam Veterans of America will be bringing their West Virginia Mobile Wall, featuring the names of all fallen Vietnam veterans from throughout the state, to the 81st Mountain State Forest Festival Oct. 4 through Oct. 7.

ELKINS — The Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 812 will be providing visitors to Elkins a unique opportunity during the 81st Mountain State Forest Festival.

The local chapter is working with the state chapter to bring in the West Virginia Mobile Wall, featuring the names of all West Virginia men killed in the line of duty during the Vietnam War, to the Elkins City Park Oct. 4-7.

“Basically, the wall that we’re bringing in contains the name of all the men from West Virginia, just West Virginia alone, that were killed during the Vietnam conflict,” said Mary Jones, wife of Chapter No. 812 member Bradley Jones. “The whole wall measures about 30 feet long.”

She added the wall has never been a part of MSFF before.

“This is the first time for it,” Jones said. “We decided we wanted to get it in. It was over at the Strawberry Festival in May. Just recently it was over in Weston.”

The memorial will be set up in the City Park on the side nearest to Davis & Elkins College.

Jones said she believes it will be beneficial to bring the wall to the community to share education with youth about the conflict and sacrifices that were made for our state and country.

“I really think it’s important educationally. With all that’s going on in this lovely, messed-up world, I think educationally the kids need to be made aware that there were a lot of guys who sacrificed everything for us to be able to have what we do have,” she said.

“Per capita, percentage-wise, this state lost more men than, I think, a lot of other states. I think it’s a good thing to remember what all has been sacrificed for us,” she continued.

The wall is currently at Camp Dawson in Preston County as part of Gold Star Family Weekend, Jones said.

“This wall will only include the names of West Virginians who were killed in action, held as prisoners of war, and those still missing in action on the soils of South Vietnam, North Vietnam its seaways and theater of operation. This list includes over 732 West Virginians who are true heroes that gave their lives in the Vietnam War for their country and this proud state,” the West Virginia State Council Vietnam Veterans of America website states.

Jones added that Chapter No. 812 hopes to make a standalone panel to honor those who lost their lives in “modern war.”

“There are plans now, it is in the works, that when they come out next year, we are getting another panel, a standalone panel, of the names of the guys in the state that have been killed in ‘modern warfare’ – Iraqi Freedom, Desert Storm and all that,” she said. “Not only are we going to be honoring our guys, we are going to be honoring the more recent men killed.”