Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall offers healing for veterans

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Moving Wall arrived in Jefferson City Thursday.

The moving wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C, and displays 58,307 names.

Pat Rowe-Kerr is the assistant event coordinator, and helped bring the moving wall back to Jefferson City.

"We've been working on bringing the wall here for over a year," Kerr said. "It has every name written on it from the beginning, and it has the additional names that have been added to it over the years."

This is the second time the wall has come to Jefferson City, and the second time Don Hentges, who is the president of the Jefferson City Veterans Council and Vietnam War veteran, has seen it.

"When we did this in 2005, I didn't want to do it because I was scared of the wall," Hentges said. "I guess I just didn't want to face it. I lost a very good friend. The day that I was wounded, he died. And I just tried to forget it."

But Hentges said he will never forget.

"He went with me on patrol that day," Hentges said. "I tried to have him stay back because I had taken him out of an ambush the night before. But he said I want to go with you in case you need me, and he died."

Hentges said he held his friend in his arms when he lost his life.

"I promised him I would do everything that I could to make sure he was never forgotten," Hentges said. "That's what drives me to do this."

Hentges visited the national memorial in D.C. six weeks before he saw the one in Jefferson City for the first time in 2005. 

"I walked around the mall area where all of the memorials are all day," Hentges said. "I just kept putting off going to the Vietnam Memorial. Finally about dark that evening I told her, my wife, I think I'm ready. And I wasn't. When I seen my friends name on the wall it was like somebody shot me."

Hentges said although it was difficult to see his friend's name, it helped him start healing.

"That helped," Hentges said. "The wall does heal."

Kerr said bringing the wall to Jefferson City offers veterans, Vietnam-era veterans, widows and widowers a healing opportunity.