01/02/13 — Traveling Vietnam Wall will make stop in Wayne County

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Traveling Vietnam Wall will make stop in Wayne County

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on January 2, 2013 1:46 PM

He visits his former battlefield commander daily -- the young radio operator who was cut down in Vietnam so many decades ago.

Richard Strawl was different from the other men retired Marine Bill Carr lost during the tour that has defined his life ever since.

"He was a great Marine -- a fine young man," Carr said, leaning back in his recliner. "I wonder how he would've turned out if things had been different."

Images from the day he fell still haunt Carr -- to the point where, years ago, en route to his lone trip to the Vietnam Wall, he told his driver to turn around.

"I couldn't do it," he said. "I just couldn't face it."

So when he heard that members of the Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition had raised enough money to bring a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to Wayne Community College this spring, he was overwhelmed.

Fate, he said, had given him another chance to pay tribute to the young man that meant so much to him.

"I think this is the greatest thing that's ever happened to the Vietnam veterans in this area," Carr said. "I loved those boys. Every one of them."

The Wall, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will arrive in Goldsboro this April.

And Coalition president Bill Graham agreed with his comrade that its presence in Wayne County might just be the most important thing to happen to local Vietnam veterans since the war ended.

"I know there are hundreds of (veterans) out there who are too old to make the trip to Washington," he said. "So I thought, 'Let's bring the wall here.' It really does have a healing effect."

Carr hopes so.

"I know Richard's at peace, and I know he knows he's loved," he said. "But I can't wait to visit him at that wall. It's time to honor him and those other guys I left behind."

The following is the schedule of events that will unfold during the wall's stint at WCC:

* Thursday, April 18, 10 a.m. -- Opening ceremony with a B-52 flyover.

* Friday, April 19, 5 p.m. -- Medal of Honor recipient Joe Marm will speak and there will be a memorial service for those killed in action. The names of the 145 men from Wayne and the counties that surround it who died in Vietnam will be read aloud.

* Saturday, April 20 -- There are no programs planned, but the public is invited to come see the wall.

* Sunday, April 21, 4 p.m. -- 4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeannie Leavitt will speak during the closing ceremony, which will also serve as a POW/MIA remembrance.