In May 7 Issue
A statewide initiative to gather photos of every Kentuckian whose name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial will kick off at a May 9 breakfast at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset, according to Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, which is partnering with the state in this effort.
The photos will be used in the Education Center at The Wall, a learning facility being built near the Vietnam Veterans and Lincoln Memorials in Washington, D.C. The Education Center will build on the visitor's experience at The Wall by showing a photo for every name and telling their stories. VVMF is reaching out to states, counties and communities for help gathering photos and remembrances about the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam.
"VVMF is energized by the enthusiasm of the people of Kentucky," said Scruggs. "We want to make sure that the 1,058 individuals from the state are honored and remembered in the Education Center."
Russell Springs resident Carla Roy's uncle, Samuel Calvin Martin, who was originally from Greensburg, was killed in action on May 17th, 1968, which also happened to be her father's birthday.
"With the wall traveling to Somerset, what a blessing that we will be able to pay a visit and show respect to him so near the 43rd anniversary of his death," Roy said of her late uncle. "A family never completely heals when a member of it is lost, but can find such peace in honoring their loved ones and keeping those memories alive. We are all so proud of Sammy, he truly gave all."
Roy said according to one of her uncle's troop friends, Len Nagel, Sammy had volunteered to go on a "search and destroy" mission with a major. Both were killed when someone hit the trip wire and set off a bouncing betty mine. She said Nagel said he could still remember hearing the chopper and someone asking if he had known Sammy Martin and he remembered saying "Yes I know Sammy." That's when he identified his body.
Sammy was born on December 22, 1946. He graduated from Green County High School in 1964 and enlisted in the United States Army and completed Advanced Individual Training at the Army Security Agency Training Center at Fort Devens, Mass. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam with his first tour from January 1966 through April 1967. His second tour began in early 1968. It was during this tour of duty that he, a member of the 101st Radio Research Company, 509th Radio Research Group, was killed in action on that fateful May day.
This story and ones like it are what make up the coming event in Somerset.
The kick-off breakfast will start at 9:30 a.m. on May 9. It is being held as part of the activities around the arrival of VVMF's traveling half-scale replica of the Memorial, called The Wall That Heals. The exhibition includes a traveling museum and information center, which is equipped with a scanner so that visitors can bring their photos of loved ones on The Wall and have them scanned onsite.
The breakfast is being held to honor veterans of all wars and those currently serving. Among the honored guests will be U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers (R-5th), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Rogers served in the Kentucky and North Carolina National Guard from 1957-64 and is a member of the National Guard and Reserve Caucus. Also speaking will be Lonnie Lawson, the president and CEO of the Center for Rural Development. VVMF President Jan Scruggs will be on hand to talk about the National Call for Photos.
The Wall That Heals will be in Somerset from May 9-14. Local organizers have activities planned every day at noon, beginning on Tuesday, May 10, that include wreath layings, leaving flags at The Wall and reading the names of all those on The Wall from Kentucky. At noon on Saturday, May 14, a closing ceremony featuring full military honors will be conducted by the Somerset American Legion Post #38. Somerset is the only stop The Wall That Heals is scheduled to make in Kentucky this year.
The May 9 breakfast and all of the activities with The Wall That Heals are free and open to the public. The Center for Rural Development is located at 2292 South Highway 27, Somerset, Ky.
The Education Center at The Wall is a learning center being built by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and located near the Lincoln and Vietnam Veterans Memorials. It is designed to tell future generations what service and sacrifice are all about. The exhibits inside the Center will feature the stories of many who served, display some of the more than 150,000 personal remembrances left at The Wall, present a timeline of historical events and feature special exhibits to highlight the service and sacrifice of different groups and individuals. Approximately $85 million will be needed to build the Center. VVMF has received donations from corporations, organizations, veterans groups and individuals, including the lead gift from Time Warner. For information, visit www.buildthecenter.org or call 1-866-990-WALL.
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War. Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that is designed to add faces to all the names on The Wall and tell their stories. Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, a traveling Wall replica that honors our nation's veterans and a humanitarian and mine-action program in Vietnam. Visit www.vvmf.org.