Vietnam War Memorial

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Plans for a nearly full-sized replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. were recently announced for a 7.7-acre park in Gilbert. The site for the 80% scale replica of the wall will also feature an education center for visiting K-12 graders and a Veteran’s Resource Center.

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WITH A MILITARY INTRODUCTION IN A DUSTY LOT IN GILBERT, HUNDREDS OF MILITARY VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES DEDICATE A PARK WITH A SIMPLE MESSAGE.

WELCOME HOME.

WELCOME HOME.

WELCOME HOME PARK IS A SEVEN ACRE SHOUTOUT TO VETERANS WHO NEVER GOT THE WORD 40 YEARS AGO. I WAS DEPLOYED OVER TO VIETNAM IN APRIL 1968.

SKIP ERRICSON WAS A CREW CHIEF IN THE AIR FORCE. HIS JOB TO MAKE SURE THE FIGHTERS WERE READY FOR DAILY MISSIONS.

HOURS OF BOREDOM FILLED WITH MOMENTS OF TERROR. THEY TRIED TO INVADE THE BASE, COUPLE OF TIMES, THE ENEMY.

AT NIGHT THERE WAS SHELLING. A LOT OF IT'S AT NIGHT. THE HILLS BEHIND THE HARBOR, THEY WOULD ILLUMINATE EVERY HALF HOUR.

JOHN SERVED IN THE VIETNAM WAR. HE REMEMBERS WHEN HE FIRST ARRIVED AFTER 21 DAYS AT SEA.

YOU SEE JETS FLYING BY AND HELICOPTERS ALL OVER. YOU THINK IT'S GREAT SEEING LAND BUT IT'S TORN APART BY WAR, AND THIS IS FOR REAL.

BY THE TIME I GOT TO VIETNAM I WAS A CAPTAIN WITH THE MILITARY INTELLIGENCE DIVISION.

ROGER POLL LARD WAS DRAFTED INTO THE ARMY AT 20 YEARS OLD.

WE WERE IN THE CROSS OF TWO CANALS. THERE WERE NO ROADS. THE ONLY WAY IN WAS BY BOAT OR CHOPPER, FASTER AND MORE DESIRABLE BECAUSE BAD THINGS HAPPENED ON THE CANAL.

THE THREE MEN SERVED IN DIFFERENT AREAS OF THE MILITARY, DIFFERENT AREAS IN VIETNAM. THE BATTLE WAS DIFFERENT AS THE WATERS THEY ENCOUNTERED, BUT THEY ALL CAME HOME TO FEEL THE SAME STING.

IT WAS LOUSY. IT WAS NOT A LOT OF FUN TO COME HOME. I WAS WELCOMED HOME BY MY MOM, DAD AND BROTHERS AND THAT WAS ABOUT IT. THAT WAS NOT UNIQUE.

NOBODY SAID THANKS AND WELCOME HOME.

THE UNITED STATES WAS A COUNTRY DIVIDED. THE SOLDIERS WERE BLAMED FOR A BATTLE THEY DIDN'T BEGIN. THAT'S WHAT BRINGS THEM HERE TO THE BARREN LOT.

I WOULDN'T BE INVOLVED IF IT WAS JUST A WALL. THE WHOLE CONCEPT IS A VETERAN'S PARK, NOT NECESSARILY A VIETNAM VETERAN'S PARK.

THERE WILL BE AN EDUCATION CENTER AND A VETERAN'S OUTREACH CENTER. THE ANCHOR WILL BE A REPLICA OF THE VIETNAM MEMORIAL.

ANYONE IN OUR GENERATION, YOU WILL KNOW 10, 20, 30 FOLKS ON THE WALL. EVEN IF YOU WEREN'T IN THE SERVICE, CLASSMATES, NEIGHBORS, RELATIVES.

ALL THREE MEN HAVE BEEN TO THE WALL IN WASHINGTON. STANDING BEFORE THE THOUSANDS OF ETCHED NAMES, THEY SAY THEY ALL FELT THE WEIGHT OF THEIR TIME IN VIETNAM.

IT WAS TOUGH -- BECAUSE IT JUST GAVE A WHOLE LOOK AT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN MY LIFE THAT I WAS A PART OF, AND HERE I WAS LUCKY TO COME BACK, BUT THERE WAS GUYS ON THAT WALL THAT DIDN'T.

I REALIZE THAT I SAW PEOPLE ABOUT MY AGE, THE AGE OF MY SON ZACHARY THERE. THEY WERE TOUCHING THE WALL AND THE NAME. I THOUGHT, MY GOSH. THEIR FATHER'S ON THE WALL. THAT WAS TOUGH. I WAS LUCKY. VERY LUCKY TO HAVE A SON AND HAVE A GRANDCHILD NOW AND A -- I MUST ADMIT THAT SURVIVOR SKILL, THAT'S TOUGH. THAT WORKS ON YOU.

THESE SURVIVORS ARE PROUD TO BRING THE POWER OF THAT WALL TO ARIZONA.

OTHER VETERANS, VIETNAM VETERANS, A FEW IN CALIFORNIA THAT CAN'T MAKE IT BACK TO D.C. BY AFFORDABILITY OR AGE AND NOT BEING ABLE TO MAKE IT. THEY'LL HAVE SOMETHING TO GO TO.

TO MAKE SURE THAT EACH GENERATION LEARNS FROM ITS PAST.

I'M PROUD OF EVERYBODY HERE TODAY. JUST THE WAY WE DO WELCOME THEM HOME. SAY THANKS. IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

AND TO HELP WELCOME THEIR FELLOW VETERANS HOME.

WE ARE HEALING AFTER ALL OF THESE YEARS. VIETNAM VETS ARE HEALING. THEY ARE HEALING BUT THEY WANT OTHERS TO REALIZE WE CAN'T DO THAT AGAIN. WE CAN NEVER TREAT VETERANS LEAK THAT AGAIN.

THE VIETNAM WALL IN GILBERT WILL BE A REPLICA OF THAT IN WASHINGTON AND HOPES TO BE OPEN FOR VETERAN'S DAY 2017.

MONDAY, SHERIFF ELECT PAUL PEN ZONE WILL JOIN US TO TALK ABOUT HIS ROLE AS THE NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN. WE HEAR ABOUT FUNDS BEING GIVEN TO ARIZONA TRIBES TO HELP WITH ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES. I'M TED SIMONS. THANKS FOR JOINING US ON THIS SPECIAL VETERAN'S DAY EDITION OF "ARIZONA HORIZON." YOU HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.
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