The Lawton Blog (pics)

March 18, 2010
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Posted By Deral at Home on 3/17/2010 at 3:31 PM

Well a pretty brisk morning with a light wind and temps in the middle to upper 30's but we had a pretty decent crowd show up this morning for our little construction project.

Michael and I had laid out the initial control last summer based on the specs from the Vietnam Veterans group. Pretty specific as to the angle on the wall PI and the azimuths and directions. 

This of course was the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall replica. It was set up nestled down in Elmer Thomas Park next to our permanent Vietnam veteran's memorial displays. It's in a shady and very quiet part of the some 320 acre park. It has a very nice new building adjacent with climate controlled bathrooms, is ADA compliant and complete with a new walking track through and around the trees. 

The display shows up pulled by a very nice rig driven by Tom, who is also the main set up guy and overall boss of the show. Of course, he travels with his wife and while he lapsed into some war stories with the young soldiers from Fort Sill from time to time, his wife kept the rest of us on the move and saw that things were progressing.

Tom is a three tour veteran and a very good source of information about the wall and Vietnam in general. He and his wife were a joy to meet and work with today.

Here is the rig they drove. 
PS_It's the purple one on the left and not the green one on the right. 
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The trailer itself is custom built with glass side displays, and interior display and houses all the parts to the wall itself. Of which there are many. At least my back is telling me that now.

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Tom says they get a great amount of respect on their travels as they take the display from town to town and this is part of the reason I think.

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So we begin by unloading the trailer and taking the separate panels to the actual site where they will be assembled. Tom asks if anyone knows the end points and I say "Yes, they are at those to distant pins flags and this pin marks the PI in the middle". He said "Are you a surveyor?" I just shrugged and said "Yeah, I have done a little over the years".

Side Note-You carry the panels with the name upright and you never lay a panel face down.Protocol and it was followed to the letter.

It wasn't long before he put me in charge of the wall erection and he went to start other crews on the light assemblies and things back at the trailer.

All of the help were soldiers from Fort Sill and all those on my crew were staff sarges or better. 

The privates were all given the duty to sweep the area. I mean sweep. They worked shoulder to shoulder with fine rakes across the entire 5 or so acres getting every scrap of trash, twigs and other junk up. 

I basically stayed at the PI point and directed line (by eyeball) and the elevation as the panels were put together.

Up on that one a 1/4"...Down on that one 1/2".. It went pretty smooth after we lined out the technique each person had to do. About an hour later Tom came back down and we had pretty much finished erecting the wall and he was surprised at the amount of time that this untrained crew had accomplished this task in. He gave it a look over very carefully and gave his blessing.

One of the guys went over to his truck and brought back a four foot carpenter level and laid it on several of the panels. He said "damn, I guess we sure didn't need this". 

It turned out all the guys that got to touch the wall today were veterans from Iraq or Afghanistan. They were fun to talk to and I sure enjoyed the day.

Here was part of my crew in action. I hope that none of them end up as names on a wall someday. All young men with hopes, dreams and families.

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And this is a shot of the nearly completed wall. It's kinda dark but I reduced it so that you could get some aspect ratio of the actual size.

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Forgive my slight foray into other topics but this wall represents over 58,000 men that gave their lives and a time where our country was in turmoil internally over this war. It changed our country and it changed the lives of many on this board who served in the Nam.

Deral



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