Traveling Vietnam Wall ‘will bring back memories’ (Photos)

Chief Warrant Officer Edward Hogue examines part of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall shortly after it was installed in the parking lot across from the Gateway Building at Casper College on Thursday morning. The replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be in Casper through Sunday. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)
Lionel Adams looks over the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall on Thursday morning at Casper College. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CASPER, Wyo. — Marine Chief Warrant Officer Edward Hogue recalls the final moments of his senior year in high school.

“I graduated on a Wednesday, got a draft letter on Friday and registered on Saturday,” recalls Officer Hogue.

Hogue watched as the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall was assembled by staff and volunteers on Thursday morning in the parking lot across from the Gateway Center at Casper College.

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“This will bring back a lot of memories,” he said.

The wall, an 80 percent scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., was brought to Casper by the Casper College Veterans Club and will be on display through Sunday.

Behind the wall, the American Legion Post 2 planted 120 American flags representing the number of Wyoming service people who died serving in the Vietnam War. Each flag features a card with a bio of a fallen Wyoming service member.

Army Medical Equipment Specialist Lionel Adams examined the traveling wall shortly after its assembly on Thursday morning.

Originally from New Orleans, he and his wife have retired in Casper.

Adams hasn’t visited the original wall in Washington, but he recalls the first time seeing the traveling wall in Kentucky.

“It was pretty tough,” he said.

Adams understands the backlash agains the way, but was still stung by what he calls the “silence” after he returned.

“When I was young I kept it pretty quiet,” Said Adams about his service.

“It was 30 years before the first person said to me, ‘Thank you for serving.'”

The American Veterans Traveling Tribute Vietnam Wall will be at Casper College through Sunday afternoon. There is no admission and visitors are welcome 24/7. An opening ceremony starts at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, with a closing ceremony at 3 p.m. on Sunday.