Jim Sánchez/ Conexión San Ángelo
Mr. David Behrend contributed two photos: Color Guard and Taps

SAN ANGELO – “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds,” (Psalm 147:3 New International Version).

How ironic that this inspired scripture reference, divinely correlates to what one human being, Jan C. Scruggs, a former Vietnam Veteran did 38 years ago when his dream became a reality---a memorial wall in honor of Vietnam veterans who needed to be healed of their broken-hearts and wounds as well as a nation. 

At Thursday’s "The Wall That Heals", opening ceremonies held on the grounds of Fort Concho’s National Historic Landmark, Chief Master Sergeant, United States Air Force, RET, Ed Bendinelli, was the guest speaker. Chief Master Sergeant, (RET.) Bendinelli spoke on who was the creator of  the 250-foot wall that heals came into existence, its purpose and in his concluding remarks also mentioned three San Angeloans who served during the Vietnam War.

A community turned out Thursday, November 16 to pay its respects to its Vietnam veterans who served their country proudly and with honor. 

Left-to-right: Patrick O' Neill, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Site Manager, Kathy McCuistion, and master of cermonies, military veteran, J.J. 

McCuistion presented the brick which came from the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" to O' Neill. The brick will be part of "The Wall That Heals" travel show and exhibit. 
O' Neill stated that the next scheduled, "Wall That Heals" tour date is December 7-10 at the John Stiff Memorial Park, 4800 Bell St. in Amarillo, Texas.

The following excerpts are from Mr. Bendinelli’s eloquent speech, given before a community which turned out to pay its respects to its veterans who served their country proudly and with honor. 

“In 1979, a young, wounded Vietnam Veteran named Jan C. Scruggs came up with the idea for a memorial to help with the healing process he felt was needed for the nearly 3 million Americans who served in Vietnam.,” said Bendinelli.  

According to Scruggs, his memorial would serve two purposes. First, it would help Veterans heal. And, second, it’s mere existence would be societal recognition that their sacrifices were honorable, rather than dishonorable. “Veterans need this,” he said, “And so did the nation. Our country needed something to heal the wounds.”

Construction of his Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall was approved by both Houses of Congress in early 1980 and then came the design contest.

“There were 1421 design entries, the winner being a young Yale University under-graduate student named Maya Lin. The magnificent black granite Wall was built and dedicated on Veterans Day, 1982.  At that time, it had 57.939 names.”

On Veterans Day 1996, VVMF unveiled a 250ft long, half-scale replica of the Vietnam Wall, called “The Wall That Heals,” which we are honored to welcome here today. Its mission is to travel to communities throughout the US, allowing family & friends, in the peace & comfort of familiar surroundings, the opportunity to reconnect once again with those loved ones or “buddies” who were lost so long ago. 

 

Vietnam Veteran, Richard T. Busenlehner is honored on Panel 30E, Line 38 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Richard T. Busenlehner 

Home Town Rowena, TX Last Address: Rowena, TX Casualty Date: Nov 20, 1967  

Cause: Hostile, Died while Missing Reason: Multiple Fragmentation Wounds

Location: Kontum Conflict: Vietnam War Location of Interment: Saint Boniface Cemetery - Rowena, Texas
Wall/Plot Coordinates: 30E, 38

http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/7086/RICHARD-T-BUSENLEHNER

Busenlehner is honored on Panel 30E, Line 38 of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

http://www.vvmf.org/Wall-of-Faces/7086/RICHARD-T-BUSENLEHNER

There is a story behind each and every one of those names and remembering and sharing their stories is part of the healing power of “The Wall That Heals. There are now 58,318 stories on that wall. Time permits me from relating stories about all those names I’m familiar with, but I do want to briefly share just one (there were three) with you.  

TSgt Raymond Leftwich. (Age 41) whose name is found on The Healing Wall, Panel 16E, Line 46. “On March 9, 1967, Ray, a 20-year Air Force veteran, bumped another crewmember off a mission so he could help one of his young airmen who was having difficulty mastering the electronic equipment aboard the aircraft. Ray and seven fellow crewmates were killed when their EC-47 aircraft was shot down by hostile Anti-aircraft fire.” 

TSgt Leftwich’s survivors include family members, his wife, Betty and their four children, who live in San Angelo. 

Today, those who serve in uniform are publicly appreciated, praised and thanked. Back during Vietnam, Americans hated the war, so they hated the Warrior. Today, Americans may hate the war, but they love the Warrior.” “And today that includes you, my Vietnam-era brothers and sisters. It has taken a long time but America has finally recognized the contributions and the sacrifices of you and I, and all those who served during the Vietnam era.” 

Floral arrangement from Grape Creek Elementary to all military personnel, including the Vietnam Veterans.

Photo courtesy of David Behrend

Photo courtesy of David Behrend

"In my heart, I believe that each of us has a sacred duty to remember all those heroes who’s names are inscribed on this Wall, as well as all those other heroes who have died in all our wars to protect this great nation. We must remember them and pass on their stories to future generations."

"And one final message for you Vietnam-era veterans here today. Welcome Home Brothers and Sisters, and Thank-you. God Bless you all and God Bless America," concluded Bendinelli.

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