By Sgt. Richard Wrigley, 1st ACB PAO, 1st Cav. Div.September 14, 2010
FORT HOOD, Texas - Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, helped set up the a nearly life-size traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, Sept. 9.
Held in conjunction with the 2010 Gathering of the Guard, an annual event by the Patriot Guard Riders, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute transports and sets up the memorial all over the country.
Split between two identical rigs, the AVTT will cover a combined 41 events over the continental U.S. this year, said Kevin Weatherly, the chief of operations of the road crew for the AVTT.
"Our mission is to create a forum for communities to come together and honor those who've made the ultimate sacrifice for our country," said Weatherly.
It's not just for fallen Soldiers, but also police, fire fighters and EMTs - anyone who put themselves in harm's way for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy.
Many of the Soldiers who volunteered to help set up, expressed how it was an honor to be helping out, and how they felt a connection between themselves and the people named on the wall.
"I feel great volunteering; I love helping out any veterans I can. Every male in my family has served in the military at some point in time, and two of my uncles served in Vietnam, so this hits home, very much so," said Spc. Jason Cates, with 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB.
Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela, 1st ACB, summed up the experience when he spoke of the apparent connection between the Soldiers setting up the wall and the Soldiers whose names are on it.
All of the Soldiers setting up the memorial are veterans and are in the same age group as many of those whose names are on the wall. Just looking at the memorial with all the names is a staggering experience, let alone helping erect it - putting hands on it, he said.
"It's just so eye opening to see our guys look at the wall with such respect," said Vela.