More than 30,000 make visit to The Moving Wall
By Lynn R. Parks
On Feb. 25, 1967, William Clarence Dayton was killed in the Quang Ngai province of South Vietnam. A native of Ross Point in Dorchester County, Maryland, the Marine Corps private was 21 years old.
He was one of 23 men killed that day, a day that Emerson Bramble remembers well.
Dayton and Bramble were cousins. On Friday, Bramble and his wife Bettie traveled from their home in Cambridge, Md., to visit the Moving Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Moving Wall travels throughout the country and from Tuesday, Sept. 14, through Monday, Sept. 20, stood in the Ross Industrial Park in Seaford, where more than 30,000 people visited it.
The Brambles found Dayton’s name on panel 15E, row 89 of the memorial. Handing his cane to his wife, Emerson Bramble bent over and scratched a pencil across a piece of paper laid over his cousin’s name, leaving an impression of the name on the paper.
“These men all served well,” said Bramble, who was with the Army during World War II. “I wanted to see this, to see the names of all the men who died.”
Wayne Wheeler, Felton, and Bruce Peachey, Dover, were also looking for names. Wheeler, 54, grew up next to Robert Hughes Donaway, a first lieutenant in the Army who was killed Aug. 18, 1969, in Choung Thien province in South Vietnam. His name is on panel 19W, row 59 of the memorial.
“He was like a big brother,” said Wheeler. “I have never been to the monument in Washington, and I wanted to see this one, to see his name.”
Peachey, 44, wears on his wrist a MIA bracelet that he has had since he was a child. It bears the name of Charles Bifolchi, a major in the Air Force and a native of Quincy, Mass., who disappeared Jan. 8, 1968, over South Vietnam while flying his F-4 reconnaissance jet. He was 24.
Peachey found Bifolchi’s name on panel 33 E, row 79. The name has a cross next to it, indicating that Bifolchi is still missing in action.
“All these guys gave up so much for us,” said Peachey. “Without this wall, there would be a lot of people who would just be gone, whose names would be forgotten.”
The original black granite war memorial bears 58,235 names, eight of them women and more than 1,000 of those who are still missing. The memorial was dedicated Nov. 13, 1982, according to its designer Maya Ying Lin, to allow all people to reflect on the price of war and to honor those who served in Vietnam.
Barbara Hocker, 66, Seaford, visited the Moving Wall to remember her husband, Kendall, an Air Force veteran who was in Vietnam in 1968 and 1969. Kendall Hocker died in 1992.
“A lot of guys gave their lives over there and some of his buddies’ names are on this wall,” Hocker said. “They stood up for one another and we can stand by them.”
Hocker’s mother, Doris Dukes, was also there. “I wanted to honor my son-in-law,” said Dukes, 83, Seaford.
Just three days before visiting the Moving Wall, Hocker had visited the Washington, D.C., memorial with her friend, Patsy Bryan, 60, Seaford. Bryan and her husband Norris also visited the Moving Wall.
“We have a lot to be grateful for,” said Patsy Bryan, reading the names on the monument.
“We wanted to show respect for the fellows who got killed,” added her husband, 65, who served nine years with the National Guard. “Nothing is free in this world; even our freedom we have to fight for.”
Army veteran Marvin Matthews, 57, Seaford, visited the Moving Wall to “pay respect” to the people who died in Vietnam. Accompanying him were his wife Susan and their daughter, Ashley, 18.
“This is a good way to remember the men who have died for all of us,” said Ashley. Asked what lesson the memorial holds for us today, she added, “It teaches you that your life can be short.”
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