By Jeff Mullin, Senior Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The drive to raise money for installing an 80 percent scale Vietnam Memorial Wall replica at Enid Woodring Regional Airport is entering its final phase.
It is, however, far from over.
Some $45,000 still is needed, said Dan Ohnesorge, co-chairman of the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall Project.
“The bed-down is coming along,” said Ohnesorge. “The concrete wall is up, on which we’re going to erect the actual Vietnam Wall. A lot of the dirt work is done, the berm is about half done, a lot of the work in front is coming along but it is being slowed by all the rain we are getting. Things are really coming together, so we will have a wall up.”
The wall will be dedicated in a ceremony beginning at 11 a.m. Nov. 11, Veterans Day. Plans for the ceremony are well under way, said Ohnesorge, and more than 2,000 people are expected to attend. Guest speaker will be retired Air Force Col. Lee Ellis, a former Vietnam prisoner of war.
The fundraising committee recently sent out letters to 90 people who were contacted previously, but who have not responded.
“We are hoping to stimulate any of the folks out there who have been procrastinating,” said Ohnesorge. “We think there were probably some folks who sat around wondering whether we could do it or not. The proof’s in the pudding. Anybody who wants to come out and look at it at the airport, it’s for sure happening.”
“I think we’ve just got to reach out,” said Bob Farrell, co-chair of the fundraising committee. “We’re coming right down to the wire now.”
Anyone wishing to donate $1,000 or more can still get their name on a monument to be placed near the wall, but only until Aug. 31, when the list of names will have to be turned in to Pellow Monument Works Inc. Large donations will be accepted after Aug. 31, Ohnesorge said, but the donors won’t be recognized on the monument.
The initial fundraising effort brought in $250,000 which, when matched by an anonymous donor, went to purchase the wall, which formerly was taken around the country and displayed by American Veterans Traveling Tribute, a Texas-based organization. Then, the focus shifted to raising an additional $150,000 to erect the wall adjacent to Enid’s Woodring Wall of Honor. At this point, $105,000 cash, plus $100,000 assistance-in-kind, has been donated, said Ohnesorge. The fundraising campaign began in January 2012.
“When we see it in its entirety and it’s dedicated, we’ll just let out a big sigh,” said Farrell. “There were several times there where we weren’t sure ourselves.”
Donations will be accepted even after the wall is dedicated, the money used to help pay for upkeep, repairs and upgrades, Ohnesorge said.
Donations can be mailed to Vietnam Memorial Wall Project, c/o Security National Bank, P.O. Box 1272, Enid, OK 73702, or donations can be made in person at any SNB branch. The Vietnam Memorial Wall Project is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning all donations are tax-deductible.
The wall is 80 percent the size of the original, but still is more than 380 feet long and 8 feet high at its tallest point, made of anodized aluminum.
Enid’s replica wall currently contains the names of 58,272 people who lost their lives during the Vietnam War. Since the replica wall was engraved, however, 14 more names have been added to the original Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., bringing the total to 58,286. Those names, including that of Enid Marine Lester James Veazey, who was added to the wall in May, will be added to the Enid wall, as well. Veazey brings the total of Enid residents’ names listed on the wall to 17.
After the wall is dedicated, it will be open for viewing by the public from 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. every day.