Some Gave All

Tracings are an important part of the experience.

NEW BERN – I have had a couple experiences with The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall as well as a trip to Washington, DC to see the actual wall. The Traveling Wall has arrived in New Bern, and will be featured Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (April 8 thru 11) at Lawson Creek Park. 

I encourage readers to experience this awesome exhibit!

My first experience was in the Denver, Colorado area.  As a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, the various flotillas in the area were asked to man the tables where the books with the names of the service members were listed. This is a handy reference to locate specific names on the Wall. There were several tents with tables and each book contained over 50,000 names. These ‘help stations’ were manned 24/7 for the time the Wall was available. In Colorado, the exhibit trucks were usually accompanied by hundreds of motorcyclists.

One afternoon, a young man came to my table and asked for the location of Lance Sijan’s name on the Wall.  I said, “Lance P. Sijan?”  He said “Yes”.  I asked if he knew him, and the young man responded, “No, but he is a hero at the Air Force Academy.” I replied, “He is a hero of mine as well.”  Turns out the young man was a cadet at the Air Force Academy (located in Colorado).  I gave him a slip of paper with Lance’s location on the Wall written on it and a short golfer’s pencil so he could trace Lance’s name on the paper and take it with him.

You may ask how I knew about Captain Sijan?  Back in 1969, Reader’s Digest had an article about him.  It told about his escape from his crashed F-4 Phantom jet and his six week evasion of capture.  Captain Sijan was an avid golfer.  Air observers used famous golf course holes to give him directions and distances to avoid Viet Cong patrols.  Should you have the opportunity to visit the Air Force Academy Chapel, look for his name on a bronze plaque. It is outside the ground floor entrance at the back of the chapel.

A few years ago, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall came to Morehead City at Glad Tidings Church.  It gave me a chance to replace the tracing of Capt. Lance Sijan’s name that I’d lost. If you haven’t seen the actual Vietnam Memorial Wall, seeing the Traveling Wall here in North Carolina will be worth your visit!