The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

July 29, 2012

Donor gives $5,000 to Vietnam Wall project, along with pledge challenge

ENID — The fundraising effort to permanently bring a replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall to Enid got a boost Friday from an anonymous donor.

The donor contacted Elaine Johns, with the Woodring Wall of Honor and Veterans Park, and pledged $5,000. But that wasn’t all. The donor said if other donors match his generosity, he will donate another $5,000, bumping his total to $10,000.

“We are real excited about the progress we have made,” Johns said. “We are very confident about the success of the project. We think we’ll have the money raised by October.”

The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall Project committee is raising funds to purchase one of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute Memorial Walls from Texan Don Allen and permanently install it at Enid Woodring Regional Airport, across from the Woodring Wall of Honor.

Allen said he is retiring the Texas-based wall and will sell it to the Enid group for $500,000, but an anonymous donor already has pledged to match $250,000 of that.

The other $100,000 will be used to provide a dignified setting for the wall. Any money raised above the $350,000 goal will go to enhance the wall’s presentation.

As of Friday, said fundraising committee co-chair Dan Ohnesorge, a retired Air Force colonel and former vice wing commander at Vance Air Force Base, the group was $85,000 short of its goal.

“The number just keeps going down,” said Ohnesorge. “We just continue to press on. We are meeting with business leaders, and quite a few have stepped up.”

As part of Main Street Enid’s monthly “First Friday” festivities on Friday, Angel Delight, 417 S. Washington, will hold a fundraiser for the wall project. The Grand Master of Surprises, Magic Al, will perform 6-7 p.m. in the main dining room, followed by Jason Taylor on guitar until 8. From 7-10 in the courtyard, music will be presented by teen band The Power, singer Kylie Kliewer and other local performers.

Hamburger, smoked sausage or Italian sausage with peppers and onions, pasta salad or baked beans and chips will be on sale for $6 per plate throughout the evening. A hot dog will be $1.50, a bag of chips $1, drinks will be $1.50 and cookies $1 each. Proceeds will benefit the wall project.

 The fundraising deadline is October. The group is hoping to break ground for the wall in the fall, with the official opening planned for next Memorial Day.

The Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall is more than 380 feet long and 8 feet high at its tallest point, made of anodized aluminum.

It contains 58,272 names of those who lost their lives during the war. Oklahoma is the state with the second-highest number of names on the wall — 16 of them from Enid.

Any individual or group donating $1,000 or more will have their names permanently engraved on a plaque to be displayed at the site. But donations of any amount are welcome.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall Project is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning all donations are tax-deductible.

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.

For information about the American Veterans Traveling Tribute, go to www.avtt.org.

Groups or individuals wanting to help with the project or to have a committee representative come and speak to their group, are asked to email Ohnesorge at dan.ohnesorge@gmail.com.

“I am confident we will make this thing go,” said Ohnesorge.

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