HILLSDALE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Many people don’t get the opportunity to go to Washington D.C. to see the Vietnam Memorial but for those in the Wabash Valley, the Ernie Pyle WWII Museum is giving you the chance to experience it through The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall bringing the tribute, closer to home.

The wall is a 3/5th scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. It stands six feet tall at the center and covers almost 300 feet from end to end.

“It’s a very wonderful thing,” Richard Jenkins said. “And I consider this… Sacred ground.”

Meet Richard Jenkins, a Vietnam veteran.

“I was in the 2nd Battalion of the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment 101st Airborne Division, United States Army.”

Jenkins traveled from Pine Village, Indiana to visit the memorial and pay tribute to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Including 2 fellow soldiers he served with and a close family friend.

“I served with these men,” Jenkins said. “And they lost their lives.”

Written on a piece of paper were the locations on the wall where Jenkins would find his fallen comrades.

“So far I’ve found the two that I served with. Then there is a third person here, that was a very close family friend, he also lost his life.”

Like Jenkins, so many visitors scanned the wall for the names of their fallen loved ones.
With a pencil, etched names were sketched onto paper, a keepsake for Barbara Holmes who was sketching the name of a fallen soldier from her hometown.

“It means something, to be able to put his name in a scrapbook, I’m going to always remember it, but I’ll have this to even show my grandkids,” Holmes said.

The friends of Ernie Pyle organization helped bring the memorial to the community.
Leaders were thrilled to learn they had enough room to also exhibit the moving tribute. Stephen Key, President of the Friends of Ernie Pyle said it took many organizations and volunteers to make it all possible.

“The other thing that we were surprised is that in addition to the wall, there is also the exhibit concerning 9-11 and the conflicts that have happened since then, to the present,” Key said.

That exhibit is known as ‘The Moving Tribute,’ a memorial honoring our fallen in Iraq, Afghanistan, and 9/11.

“The community is a very patriotic community, and this is a way to show their patriotism beyond the ability that they can see what the wall looks like without having to go to Washington D.C .,” Key added.

The Traveling Memorial stands as a reminder of the great sacrifices made.

“These people lost their lives in the service of our nation… And… They are the true heroes. They truly are,” Jenkins said.

The Vietnam traveling memorial wall as well as The Moving Tribute will be at the International Paper Family Park at 4840 South County Road 360 East, Hillsdale, IN. The exhibit runs from 9:00 a.m. on June 9 through 9:00 p.m. on June 11.

While in town, The Friends of Ernie Pyle invite you to stop by the WWII museum, just about five miles away. The museum will have extended hours on Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, June 11 from noon until 6:00 p.m. Admission is free to the museum as well as the Traveling Wall.