Volunteers sought for Vietnam wall

PARKERSBURG – When the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall returns to the city in late August, it will be open around the clock until it’s taken down the Tuesday after Labor Day.

So the city is enlisting volunteers to stand watch over the tribute at City Park and assist people in locating the names of soldiers inscribed upon it, whatever the hour.

“We do have people that come all night long,” Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said.

An organizational meeting is being held at 6 p.m. Thursday in the executive conference room on the second floor of the Municipal Building for groups or individuals willing to volunteer to help out with the event.

One group that answered the call when the wall was here in 2011 and plans to do so again this year is the Marine Corps League Detachment 1087 of Wood County.

“A lot of our members are Vietnam veterans,” said Mike Francis, senior vice commandant for the detachment. “And then several of our members, they have friends that they lost, that their names are on that wall.”

The three-fifths-scale model of the memorial in Washington, D.C., bears the names of more than 58,000 American soldiers killed in the Vietnam war. It is 300-feet long from end to end and stands six-feet high in the center. It is a project of the Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard organization in Brevard County, Fla.

The wall was previously displayed in Parkersburg around Labor Day weekend in 2011. It attracted more than 7,000 people.

“And it rained; the weather wasn’t great, and we still had all that traffic,” Newell said.

The mayor said the wall is scheduled to be erected in City Park on Wednesday, Aug. 27, on a base that will be set up by city employees. In addition to providing security and helping people locate names, volunteers can assist with the setup and take-down, Newell said.