MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Combat Center Marines with Marine Corps Communication-Electronics School, were invited to Big Bear City, Calif., to witness and learn about the history of the Vietnam War and American Veterans Traveling Tribute Sept. 27, 2013.
The tribute, founded in 1998 in Flint, Texas, features an 80-percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall found in Washington D. C. The display also features informational panels with every other American conflict, 9/11 memorial, and other historical information.
Thirty-eight students from MCCES were invited to Big Bear by the event coordinator, Vince Smith. Smith saw the wall in Pason, Ariz., and wanted it to be shared with Big Bear community. He says his intentions were to share what he experienced and he wanted to invite local service members to be present during the four-day showing.
“After seeing (the wall,) I said, ‘this is what this community needs,’” Smith said. “It took three and a half years to get it here, but we did it. We have a very patriotic community up here. This is the least we can do for the service members. This is a community that knows the names on that wall gave their tomorrows for our todays.”
MCCES students were invited to see the wall, talk to Vietnam veterans and enjoy lunch with the community. The students spent the afternoon learning the history of those that fought before them and listened to the stories they shared.
“I love listening to the history that veterans have to tell,” said Pfc. Brittany Swann, student, Headquarters Co., MCCES. “I was a history major in college so this is an amazing opportunity for me. I love hearing the stories of why other service members joined.”
The 360-foot-long display was back-dropped by the beautiful Big Bear Lake and mountains. The traveling wall brings a national monument to back yards of those who aren’t able to make the trip to the nation’s capital.
“This is a spot-on replica of the wall in D.C.,” said 1st Sgt. John Dober, company first sergeant, Headquarters, Co., MCCES. “Many of the young students haven’t had the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital and see the actual Vietnam wall. This is a great experience for them to see. It reminds (the students) of what they’re doing.”