OSKALOOSA — Nine Mahaska County residents are among the 58,000 names of service members who lost their lives in Vietnam that are engraved on The Wall That Heals.
The Wall That Heals is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is at the Southern Iowa Fairgrounds from July 2 through July 6.
The opening ceremony for The Wall That Heals was held Wednesday evening. Although there was light rain falling before the ceremony, it did not deter people from attending and honoring those who lost their lives in service to their country.
The Mahaska County residents who lost their lives in the Vietnam War are Warren Phillips, of Oskaloosa; Richard Bartlow, of Oskaloosa; James Robbins, of Rose Hill; David McCombs, of Oskaloosa; Leonard Cooper, of Oskaloosa; Michael Lytle, of Oskaloosa; Dennis Craver, of New Sharon; Dennis Hamilton, of Barnes City; and John Van Wyk, of Leighton. Master of Ceremonies Fred Bridges read their names and a bell was rung in their honor. A flag was placed with a brass grave market after each name was read.
Retired Gen. Tommy Franks was the speaker at the opening ceremony.
Franks, who as commander of U.S. Central Command led the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1967 and served in Vietnam. During his service in Vietnam, Franks earned six awards for valor and three purple hearts.
“Freedom is not free. The wall behind you is evidence of that,” Franks said.
“For a nation that loves peace, we’ve never had a generation without a war,” he said.
Franks honored the 58,000 service members who lost their lives in Vietnam. They, like veterans of service in Afghanistan and Iraq, swore to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. They were prepared to lay down their lives in defense of the nation, he said.