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Military

Vietnam Vets Offer Their Stories in Advance of ‘Moving Wall’ Visit

Visitors participate in The Moving Wall Candlelight Ceremony during the 2011 exhibit in Santa Barbara. This year’s evening ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Chase Palm Park. Click to view larger
Visitors participate in The Moving Wall Candlelight Ceremony during the 2011 exhibit in Santa Barbara. This year’s evening ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at Chase Palm Park. (Richard Carter Photography photo)

Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218 will provide speakers who served during the Vietnam War era to groups, organizations and classrooms in advance of The Moving Wall exhibition, coming to Chase Palm Park Oct. 12-17, 2016.

Visiting The Moving Wall after a presentation by a VVA 218 member is bound to enrich and deepen the experience. There is no charge for this, though donations to the Chapter are always welcome.

Peter Bie, president of VVA Chapter 218, is reaching out to local Santa Barbara School District teachers of history, political science and foreign relations who may wish to take advantage of this special opportunity for their students to experience living history from the men and women who served in the Vietnam War.

There are 98 names from Santa Barbara County on The Wall.

Local church groups, as well as Rotary, Elks, Chambers of Commerce, military and other organizations are invited to take advantage of the living history aspect the VVA is providing to the community.

So far, VVA members who will be available to speak to students include Peter Bie (Army, Vietnam), Tom Elliott (Marines, Vietnam), Steve Penner (Navy, gunnery officer aboard the U.S.S. Turner Joy*); John Blankenship (Navy, lieutenant, pilot, Vietnam/Japan), Hap Desimone, (Army, Vietnam). More veterans will join the list of potential speakers.

Today’s high school students are two, nearly three generations removed from the Vietnam War, and many Americans today see it as something that happened a long time ago in a place very far away.

Currently Vietnam veterans across the country are marking a series of 50th-anniversary events of the war, which, for the United States, officially began with combat operations in 1965 and ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon.  

Presentations may last anywhere from 15-30 minutes to allow ample time for Q&A and discussion afterwards of the veteran’s particular experience of the Vietnam War.

Speakers may bring their own visual aids, photos, props and memorabilia to enhance the presentation and, in some cases, A/V equipment may be requested.    

Peter Bie, president of VVA Chapter 218, stands before The Moving Wall during its last visit to Santa Barbara.
Peter Bie, president of VVA Chapter 218, stands before The Moving Wall during its last visit to Santa Barbara. (Richard Carter Photography photo)

To schedule a speaker, contact Bie at 805.284.6372 or [email protected] and include “Moving Wall Speaker” in the subject line.

Both monetary and in-kind services sponsorships are still being sought. Restaurants or caterers may help by providing meals for the volunteers who will be on site 24 hours a day.  

Remember to say “Thank You for your service and Welcome Home” to the Vietnam veterans in addition to veterans from WWII, the Korean War and conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

* The Turner Joy had the dubious honor of being the ship that fired the first and last shot of the Vietnam War; Penner’s account includes the “final shot” story.

For more information about Chapter 218 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, visit Chapter 218’s website or Facebook page.

Maureen McFadden represents the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 218.

 

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