Among the 59,272 names on the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall are 30 Washington County veterans who didn’t return from the 14-year Southeast Asian conflict.
One of those soldiers was Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Quimby, who died in 1968 from wounds received in battle.
“He was 20 years old. I was 12 when he passed,” recalled Quimby’s sister, Sherry Saunders, 59, who lives in Beverly.
She remembered the family receiving telegrams notifying them of Daniel’s death, and noted the impact it had on the entire community.
“He had just graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marines,” Saunders said. “My father tried to persuade him not to enlist, but he went. He was only (in Vietnam) for a few weeks. We buried him in October that year.”
Saunders said she visited the traveling Vietnam memorial when it made a stop in Monroe County a few years ago.
“I found his name on that wall, and my goal is to some day get to Washington D.C., and take a rubbing of his name off the original wall,” she said.
Saunders said her son, Christopher Hart, now 40, has served in the U.S. Air Force for 17 years now, and just returned from a tour in Afghanistan, but she still worries.
“It’s difficult when they’re overseas. You just feel they’re better protected when they return to the U.S.,” she said.
Larry Proctor, 67, of Marietta, returned home after being wounded while serving his first tour in Vietnam during 1967 and 1968 with the U.S. Army’s 196th light infantry brigade.
“I spent 11 months, 29 days and 23-and-a-half hours there,” he said, noting many others weren’t so fortunate.
“My unit had a reunion in D.C. just last summer, and we visited the Vietnam Memorial Wall,” Proctor said. “And I’m just getting ready to contact a couple of guys about going to the opening ceremonies for the traveling wall in Parkersburg Thursday.”
He said one of the names on the wall, Capt. Doug Seeley, was in high school with Proctor’s brother, and another, Joseph Rutter, Jr., was the brother of a close friend.
Proctor also noted there were many others who died during the time he served in Vietnam, including 86 Marines killed during one intense battle in April of 1968. He still has difficulty talking about that incident.
“Most of us who came home spent years in counseling for what they call ‘survivor’s guilt,'” he said. “I have often asked God, ‘Why me?’ Why did I survive?”
In addition to visiting the memorial in Washington D.C., Proctor goes to see the traveling Vietnam wall when it’s in the area.
“The wall is an incredible idea, with more than 58,200 names of those who died,” he said, adding that everyone should see it.
The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall came to Marietta in 1997. Roy Ash, Washington County Veterans Services officer, said it was an incredible experience.
“We kept it open 24 hours a day, and had 50,000 visitors over the four-day period,” he said. “A lot of people have family members or know someone who’s on that wall.”
After the traveling memorial moved on, there were many pieces of memorabilia-flowers, teddy bears, hats, photos and letters left at the site by visitors.
Ash said a display case was built to house those items and is currently located in the first floor entrance hallway off Putnam Street at the Washington County Courthouse.
A memorial wall there also contains rubbings of the 30 names of soldiers from Washington County who served and died in Vietnam. The rubbings were taken from the memorial in Washington D.C.
“We also obtained photographs of as many of those veterans as we could, and they’re on the courthouse wall, too,” Ash said.
In addition to the Marietta stop in 1997, the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall visited Beallsville in Monroe County in 2004, Ohio University in Athens County in 2011 and McConnelsville in Morgan County in 2012.