Officer candidates help build Vietnam traveling wall
May 28, 2010
- Dignity Memorial display at National Infantry Museum through June 13
- Two dozen officer candidates from Fort Benning aid in setup
- Wall a tribute to the "massive amount of people who sacrificed their life for this country" during Vietnam War
FORT BENNING, Ga. - Richard Tallman said he wanted to seek out just one name: his grandfather.
In July 1972, BG Richard Joseph Tallman - on his third tour to Vietnam - was aboard a helicopter leaving An Loc in Binh Long Province when his party was hit by enemy artillery fire. The 47-year-old general, also a veteran of World War II and Korea, was wounded and later died at the 3rd Field Hospital in Saigon.
"My dad named me after him," said Tallman, who deployed to Iraq two years ago as an Army sergeant. "I've never been to D.C., so I never had a chance to see his name on the wall."
That changed Tuesday when Tallman found it during setup of the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall on Heritage Walk at the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. He was among two dozen officer candidates from 3rd Battalion (Officer Candidate School), 11th Infantry Regiment, who volunteered to help with its assembly.
A 10-member detail from Headquarters and Headquarters Company also took part in Thursday's dedication ceremony. Volunteers will be at the wall from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through June 13. Among them are more OCS students, who'll work six-hour shifts to help visitors find names.
The traveling wall is a three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The faux-granite model stands 240 feet long and 8 feet high and is inscribed with the names of more than 58,000 Americans killed or missing in Vietnam.
"We got future leaders assisting in this memorial. It's pretty awesome," said 2LT Oscar Munoz, executive officer for the battalion's HHC. "They actually get to be part of history ... It's an honor paying tribute to past Soldiers who did serve and die in Vietnam."
Setting up the wall allowed the group a unique opportunity, Officer Candidate Steven Seifen said.
"It lets us keep in touch with our heritage, which is a big part of Army life," he said. "This is a generation that's older and at risk of being forgotten. We have to honor it as much as we can every year ... It's a massive amount of people who sacrificed their life for this country."
The traveling monument has been displayed in more than 200 cities across the United States. It arrived here from San Diego and next goes to Norman, Okla.
Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall on display
WHEN: Through June 13
WHERE: Heritage Walk at National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center
* Free and open to the public 24 hours a day, the Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall is dedicated to veterans of the Vietnam War and honors all U.S. service members.