Vietnam Wall Replica in Tallahassee

By Julie Montanaro
October 10, 7 p.m.

A replica of the Vietnam Memorial arrived in Tallahassee Tuesday escorted by more than one hundred bikers. Many of those bikers are Vietnam Vets themselves, anxious to look up old friends who never made it home.

Stone slabs bearing the names of soldiers killed, or still missing, in Vietnam rolled through Tallahassee Tuesday morning in a flag draped semi accompanied by more than 100 bikers many of whom fought in Vietnam and lost friends there.

Vietnam Veteran Trent Nazworth said, "It wakes up your memories, brings you on back there, thinking of your friends that we lost to it."

"I was on a helicopter, it got shot down, and everybody else got killed but me. I was lucky enough to get out," said Vietnam Vet Steve Caldwell, "I kind of like, you know, want to touch their names and just sort of remember them."

The sea of leather vests, patches and American flags wound its way to Culley's Meadowwood on Timberlane Road. That's where the three quarter size replica of "The Wall" will go up.

Veterans are hoisting 96 panels into place with 58,000 names in all, names which bring back a lot of memories.

"I'm here primarily to honor the fallen soldiers," said National Guardsman Robert Heilman, "and I also want to look up and see how many of the people I graduated with from the Army didn't come back."

Edwin Bethea did two tours of duty in Vietnam. He said, "Once you see the names, you get a feel for the magnitude and the real meaning as to what happened, but it also brings back a lot of memories, and it shows the dedication that Americans have to our country and our military."

Veterans will begin reading those names aloud on Thursday morning and continue reading around the clock until Sunday afternoon.

Opening ceremonies are Friday at 10 a.m. There's a candlelight ceremony on Friday at 7:30 p.m., a Purple Heart ceremony on Saturday at 11 a.m., and closing ceremonies are on Sunday at 4 p.m.