200,000 Pay Tribute to Fallen Heroes at 2013 Moving Vietnam Wall Memorial in Aurora
The Moving Wall Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. which rose for display in Aurora November 2013 in the practice soccer fields of West Aurora High School for 5 days.
In addition, the traveling replica of the World War II memorial and 2,013 American flags were displayed during the “Field of Honor” event.
The Vietnam Wall is engraved with the names of 58,282 Americans who perished in the Vietnam Conflict or are still unaccounted for (Prisoners of War and Missing in Action). More than 200,000 people visited the “Field of Honor” during the five-day event. The Moving Wall was last in Aurora 24 years ago, when more than 150,000 people viewed it.
The Aurora Moving Wall Committee, headed by Chairman Herschel Luckinbill, had set a goal to raise $50,000 to pay for displays and daily patriotic events at the site.
Aurora Vietnam Moving Wall Memorial Event Coordinator Rick Gardner (center) visits FOFH-IL Booth StaffLisa Mariottini, FOFH-IL Secretary) (l) and Barb Kemp, Board Development Officer (r) during the 4-day event. FOFH-IL truly appreciates the Moving Wall Committee providing booth space free of charge for building awareness of the FOFH-IL mission.
FOFH-IL Vice President Emeritus Rich Flatley (left) Mans FOFH-IL Booth at Vietnam Moving Wall Event with volunteer Steve Stamatis“We are grateful to our Board members and volunteers who spend many hours spreading awareness of the FOFH-IL mission at special events,” says President Betty Stamatis.
"FOFH-IL appreciates Mr. Luckinbill providing us with the opportunity to build awareness of our mission free of any costs throughout the duration of this event," comments Betty Stamatis, FOFH-IL president.
"We wanted this to be the biggest event this Wall and Aurora has ever seen, and we wanted it to honor all veterans," said Luckinbill. "As a Vietnam veteran, having the wall come to Aurora meant everything to me. I served on the first American ship that received direct gunfire in the Vietnam War. I lost a shipmate who slept right above me. I know what war’s about."
Herschel Luckinbill, who is known for accompanying dozens of World War II veterans on Honor Flights to Washington, D.C., led efforts to bring the Wall to Aurora. The Vietnam veteran wanted to honor his fallen shipmates, Antone Perry Jr. and Thomas Tiglas.
"To be able to see and touch their names, two of the 58,286 on the Wall, means so much,“ Luckinbill said.
"More than 1,000 volunteers worked in shifts of 45 at the Wall during the duration of the event,” said Rudy Keller, a member of Aurora’s Moving Wall Committee.
"In addition to volunteers, landscapers, Honor Guard members and a bevy of others pitched in to put the Wall up. At night, Aurora-based military recruiters stood guard over the Wall that honored the fallen,” Luckinbill said.
Moving Wall Committee organizers included: Mike Chapin, John Edburg, Lisa Garcia, Rick Gardner, Kim Granholm, David Hamby, Rudy Keller, Herschel Luckinbill, Rick Mervine, Jim Morsovillo, Chuck Nelson, Bob Patterson, Clarence Robinson, Scott Roscoe, Amy Roth, Joe Toma, Chris Weber and Liz Wendel.
"So many people came together to make this happen," Luckinbill comments. "I am honored to be part of this team."