2017-05-24 / Front Page

Local veterans, families gather at mobile wall, Vietnam Memorial for West Virginia soldiers

by Kate Shunney


Bob Meadows, American Legion Post 60 Commander, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Vietnam mobile wall display. photo by Tina Goldman Bob Meadows, American Legion Post 60 Commander, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Vietnam mobile wall display. photo by Tina Goldman Veterans, their families and community members gathered at American Legion Post 60 in Berkeley Springs last weekend to visit a temporary exhibit paying respects to the West Virginia soldiers killed and captured in the Vietnam War.

On Saturday, the West Virginia State Council Vietnam Veterans of America delivered the Vietnam Veterans Mobile Wall to the American Legion, where it stood on display until Sunday afternoon. A motorcycle escort accompanied the wall.

The wall -- a black, reflective monument bearing the names of 732 West Virginia veterans – travels throughout the state as part of an outreach effort. Its finish resembles the national Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Groups can request the wall come to their event, school or location. Volunteers with the Morgan County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund arranged for the wall to make its first appearance in Morgan County.


Names of West Virginia soldiers lost in the Vietnam War are listed on the Mobile Wall, which visited Berkeley Springs on May 20. photo by Tina Goldman Names of West Virginia soldiers lost in the Vietnam War are listed on the Mobile Wall, which visited Berkeley Springs on May 20. photo by Tina Goldman A ceremony marking the event was held at the American Legion on Saturday afternoon with more than 150 people attending. The Berkeley Springs High School marching band played patriotic songs and the Tri- State Honor Guard gave a 21- gun salute as the wall was opened for public viewing.

Members of Quilts of Honor presented veterans with handmade quilts as part of the ceremony as well. Afterwards, families gathered at the wall to read soldiers’ names, take rubbings of the inscriptions and visit with one another.

“It means that all the veterans of Morgan County can come and celebrate their fellow veterans,” said Post Commander Bob Meadows. “It’s a great honor to host it.”

“We can go to church, attend council meetings and go vote, all because of what veterans did. Their service made it all possible,” said Meadows.

Speaking of the war memorials located in downtown Berkeley Springs, Meadows said their stature sends an important message.

“People know that Morgan County respects our veterans,” he said. Meadows strongly supports the efforts of the Morgan County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to place a new monument on the Fairfax Green.

“It should be in the center of town. It’s Morgan County history,” said Meadows.

Rod Farley of the West Virginia State Council Vietnam Veterans of America was one of the crew members watching over the wall on Saturday. Farley said the monument had just come from Buckhannon and was heading toward Huntington, Nitro and Raynell next.

Farley said the conditions of hosting the wall include a donation, having enough manpower to set up and take down the parts of the wall and observing certain rules. For example, no food or drink or pets are allowed near the wall.

“We consider it a cemetery for the 732 people on the wall,” he said of the space around the mobile monument.

Tari Hampe Deneen sought out the wall as part of her work with the local Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, as she researches more than 200 local residents who served during Vietnam.

“What I really wanted to do was bring awareness to all of the veterans,” she said. “My passion in this is they were treated so badly they hid the fact that they were veterans.”

Speaking of the local effort to build a Vietnam memorial, Hampe-Deneen said: “While they’re still alive, let’s get this done.”

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All Morgan County Vietnam War

All Morgan County Vietnam War Era veterans are eligible to be included in the local memorial. If you served during the Vietman Era and were honorably discharged, please contact Tari.