AVTT Vietnam Wall Coming to St. Louis Area June 13-16
The American Veterans Traveling Tribute (AVTT) Vietnam Wall project received a big boost when the St. Louis County Port Authority presented the Show-Me Hero Salute team with a check for $10,000. The check will help cover transportation of the Wall to St. Louis, as well as construction and support services for the June 13-16 event in South County.
The Vietnam Wall will be on the campus of Lindbergh High School, 4900 S. Lindbergh Blvd., from June 13 to 16. The Show-Me Hero Salute is a not-for-profit organization formed for the sole purpose of organizing and presenting this event for the St. Louis region. Sheila Sweeney, chairman of the Port Authority board of directors, presented the check on April 3 on behalf of the Port Authority, to Butch Thomas, chairman of the Show-Me Hero Salute effort.
The Port Authority agency operates under the auspices of the St. Louis County Economic Council. Sweeney, who is also chairperson of the St. Louis County Economic Council, said that the Port Authority was pleased to make the donation.
“We wanted to show that we respect, appreciate, and honor those whose names are on the Wall,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney has two brothers who served in Vietnam. Her brother, Edward Sweeney, served from 1972 to 1973. Her other brother, Kevin Sweeney, was stationed in Vietnam from 1973 to 1974.
“Edward was a member of the 101st Airborne in the Army, and was stationed near the DMZ,” Sweeney recalled. “Both of my brothers were in Vietnam at the same time for a while,” Sweeney said.
That made dinner time at the Sweeney home a nightly ritual of eating and watching the evening news for any word on the war in the 1970s. Although they never saw Ed or Kevin on the evening news, Sweeney recalled that the family did catch a glimpse of Edward one year when a Bob Hope Christmas Special was televised while he was entertaining the troops in Vietnam.
While Edward was on the ground, Sheila Sweeney’s younger brother Kevin served as a pilot for one of the tanker planes. Both of Sweeney’s brothers returned home: Ed was a lieutenant; and Kevin, a captain. Kevin remained in the military in the National Guard, and retired as a lieutenant colonel. His long service ended with his participation in Desert Storm. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a mission he flew in Iraq.
Sweeney said that there are seven board members on the Port Authority. Their prime mission is economic development, and they welcomed the ability to help provide financial support to the Show-Me Hero Salute. Sweeney noted that St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley is a Vietnam Veteran. Dooley, a Saint Louis native, enlisted at age 17. He is scheduled to be a speaker at the Show-Me Hero Salute event “The Traveling Wall” has made stops across the nation and serves to educate, to inspire, and to provide a place for healing for all those who visit.”
The AVTT Vietnam Wall is an 80 percent scale model of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., which honors U.S. Service members and the armed forces who died or who were MIA (Missing In Action). The somewhat smaller traveling Vietnam wall appeared on the Florissant Civic Center grounds a few years ago. More than 58,000 names are etched into the memorial wall.
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