By TYLER MASK
PARKER COUNTY – The National Vietnam War Museum is inviting the public to witness the fifth annual update of the Vietnam Memorial Wall on June 7.
Gates open at 8 a.m. Events and demonstrations will take place throughout the morning. The museum is located just east of Mineral Wells in western Parker County, on U.S. Highway 180 near Maddux Road.
The local wall is approximately half the size of the original in Washington, D.C. It was unveiled May 30, 2009, originally donning 58,260 names across 70 panels. Since its creation, more than 20 names have been added. The museum includes a Camp Holloway replica memorial wall, several gardens, static displays and a visitor’s center.
This year, NVWM will add the four names the wall in Washington added last year. Museum officials are required to wait one year after Washington displays the new names.
Patriot guard riders will arrive at 9:45 a.m., and NVWM Board of Directors Treasurer Jim Messinger will officially welcome guests at 10 a.m.
Congressman Mike Conaway will speak briefly after Messinger, then NVWM Museum Chaplain Brig. Gen. James Spivey, U.S. Army, retired, will give the invocation.
Closing out the first half of the event, Monica Harvey will sing the “National Anthem” after the recitation of the “Pledge of Allegiance,” and will also sing “Welcome Home.”
AmVets Post 133 Commander Jim Vines will introduce a series of army guest speakers around 10:50 a.m. They are:
• Capt. Sarah L. Blum, U.S. Army, retired. Blum is a decorated Vietnam veteran who served as a nurse. She earned the Army Commendation Medal serving as an operating room nurse at the 12th Evacuation Hospital in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1967, one of the most violent times during the war.
• Col. Mant Hawkins, USMC, retired. During his military tenure, Mant piloted FA-18s all around the world, including air combat off of aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields and had ground assignments in Iraq and throughout Middle East. Prior to his transition from active duty in 2008, he served as director of Global Combating Terrorism Network and Strategic Initiatives for U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.