SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Spartanburg honored Veterans Days with a parade and a special ceremony Saturday morning at the ‘Wall That Heals.’
Among the crowd gathered on a misty morning were Bob and Julia Howard.
“I have a certain attachment to the wall,” Bob, a Vietnam veteran, said. His wife Julia added, “Bob served in Vietnam in 1966 as a corpsman, a medical corpsman.”
They searched the more than 58,000 names etched into stone, looking for one name in particular.
“There was a fellow on the wall, we were pulled from two different artillery batteries… a place called ‘PK 17’ which was a Vietnamese stronghold. We got hit the morning of April 6 of ’67 and this guy and I … were the only two corpsmen on the base. He got killed, and I didn’t,” Bob said.
Added Julia, “We wanted to find his name and we were able to do that.”
Finding the name brought back distant memories.
“A few little flashbacks of what happened that night and the strong feeling of appreciation, that God chose me to stay and I don’t know why but I am thankful for it,” Bob said.
Julia said Bob’s deployment was hard on toth of them.
“Bob left for Vietnam after we hhadbeen married for 6 weeks. We had to change our wedding date so we could get married before he left so that was a tough year.”
Today, their sacrifices are honored.
“If we don’t do things and events of this nature, we lose that part of our history and if we have families that can come out and tell those stories to our communities and then they can tell those stories to our younger generations and we can stand there and listen and absorb some of that knowledge and we can pass that on to someone else, that history will be preserved,” Brent Cobb, director of Spartanburg County Veterans Affairs, said.
And what Bob brought with him to the wall has a story of its own.
“His dog tag was lost for 50 years and they found it and sent it back to him,” Julia said.
Bob said what he lost when he was putting a guy on a chopper, almost 50 years later it was recovered.
“A nurse was going through the country of Vietnam and was buying dog tags ofromthe Vietnamese,” Bob said. “So, she sent those dog tags back to Hickham Field in Hawaii to the POWMIA group and they called me up and said if you remember your service number then you can have a dog tag.”
The dog tag is something Bob takes everywhere he goes.
“He never takes it off,” Julia said.
The Wall that Heals will remain up for viewing until Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Spartanburg Downtown Memorial Airport.