Saturday, June 25, 2022

Marco Island is Ready to Welcome Back The Wall That Heals

Submitted Photo | The three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center will be on display at the Veterans Community Park and will be open 24 hours a day and will be free to the public

After months of planning, The Wall That Heals (TWTH) will finally arrive in Marco Island on Wednesday, February 18th. The American Legion Post 404 and the residents of Marco Island will welcome the third visit of the Wall That Heals, the memorial exhibit bearing the names of the 58,279 men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.  

According to Lee Rubenstein, Commander of the American Legion Post 404, the motorcycle escort should cross the Jolley Bridge on Tuesday, February 18 between 12:15 – 12:30, and make sure to tell your friends to fill the bridge with supporters waving the American Flag and to park at Marco Island Yacht club. TWTH will arrive with a thunderous escort of 350+ bikers and proceed to Veterans Community Park.  

Its arrival will begin the 25th tour season of TWTH with a visit to Marco Island, the only Florida city on the 2020 Tour schedule. According to Commander Rubenstein, “American Legion Post #404 is honored to bring The Wall That Heals back to Marco Island. Everyone will want to experience the new Wall which is 40% larger than the Wall it replaced. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for many veterans to share the special bond that exists with those who served and sacrificed.” 

The three-quarter-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, along with a mobile education center will be on display at the Veterans Community Park and will be open 24 hours a day and will be free to the public.  

On Tuesday, February 18th, after the departure of the motorcycle escorts, 6 panels of the wall will be set up with the final set-up scheduled for Wednesday, February 19th.  

On Thursday, February 20th, TWTH will be open to the public for viewing at 12:01 AM. Collier County Schools are already scheduled to tour TWTH. The Welcome Ceremony is scheduled for Thursday at 12 noon with Captain Wayne O. Smith (Vietnam POW) and Retired Major General James Dozier as keynote speakers.  

On Friday, February 21stfifty+ volunteer “readers” will publicly read the names of the 1,999 Floridians killed during the Vietnam War. These names will read by City, one by one, who they are, their rank and branch of service. The reading will continue till noon Saturday, February 22nd.  

On Sunday, February 22ndthe closing ceremony starts at 1:30 PM with a closing prayer and playing of the taps.  

Sobering facts about the names on The Wall: 

  • The first known casualty in Vietnam was Richard Fitzgibbon of North Weymouth, MA. Listed as killed on June 8th, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall along with his son, Marine Lance Corporal Richard Fitzgibbon, III, who was killed September 7th, 1965. Father & Son are on the Wall. 
  • There are 3 sets of Fathers & Sons on the Wall. 
  • Almost 40,000 of the names on the wall were 22 years and younger. 
  • 8,200 were just 19 years old – the largest age group. 
  • 3,300 were 18 years – kids just out of high school. 
  • 12 soldiers on the wall were 17 years old. 
  • 5 soldiers were 16 years old and one was 15 years old – who lied about his age and was killed 3 weeks after coming. 
  • 31 sets of brothers are on the wall. 
  • 8 women are on the wall killed while nursing the wounded. 
  • 16 members of the clergy are on the wall. 
  • The oldest person on the Wall is Dwaine McGriff at 63 years old. 
  • The youngest Vietnam KIA is believed to be Dan Bullock at 15 years old. 
  • There are 226 Native Americans on the Memorial. 
  • There are 22 countries represented on the Memorial. 
  • Most common name on the Memorial was “Smith” with 667. 
  • 16 Chaplains are on the Wall. 
  • 997 veterans killed on their first day. 
  • 1,448 Veterans killed on their last day. 
  • Most casualties for a single day was on January 31st, 1968 – 248. 
  • Most casualties for a single month was May 1968 – 2,415. 

For more information visit the Facebook page of The Wall That Heals 2020 Marco Island Florida. 

2 responses to “Marco Island is Ready to Welcome Back The Wall That Heals”

  1. Mack Payne says:

    Great story about an important event for South Florida. More on that here: 1666 – The Wall That Heals headed for Marco Island

  2. Karen OConnor says:

    Im taking my 17 yr old granddaughter . Her fathers uncle 20 yr old Sgt. . William Notermann from Victoria Mn was killed June 19th 1970.
    My husband Michael J OConnor served 3 yrs there as Marine. My brother Stephen A. LaCroix was in Navy there. His ship hit & given a medal. They came home. A high school Friend Micheal Dunkel died there as well as a another friend Tommy Thompson. I had opportunity to visit the wall in DC several yrs ago. It’s very meaningful to me and am so happy to share with my granddaughter before she leaves on Thursday. I really hope she’s able to see it.

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