Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 14, 2013

Mobile Vietnam Memorial visits Kimball vets’ center

BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

KIMBALL — The November chill didn’t stop visitors from lingering before the black wall that contained the names of 732 West Virginians who made the supreme sacrifice for their nation during the Vietnam War.

“That name right there means a lot to me,” Dave Simmons said as he pointed to the name “Robert Simmons” that was etched in the mobile Vietnam War Memorial wall. “He was my uncle,” he said as he pulled the sleeve of his jacket up to show a bracelet with his uncle’s name and date of death in 1971. “I accompanied him back home.” Simmons said that he has two cousins also listed on the wall.

Charles Honaker recognized several of the names on the wall — some who worked for him, and others who were the sons of men he worked with. “I can’t think about all of these guys without thinking about what South Vietnam is today,” Honaker said. “All of these guys.” Honaker also served in Vietnam.

While Charles Honaker was looking in one section of the mobile wall, his wife, Welch Mayor Reba Honaker was looking at another section of the wall. Both were moved by the experience, and both stood in the cold and lingered at the wall.

“We built this wall in June,” Simmons, state president of the West Virginia Council, Vietnam Veterans of America said. “We had a couple of guys on the Turnpike manning a rest stop, and we thought of doing this wall to take it to people who would probably never get to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. This is our ninth stop since we built it. We’ll retire it after this stop, and bring it out again in the spring.”

There was a crowd of 50-60 people inside and outside of the McDowell County Veterans and Visitors Center in Kimball Wednesday afternoon, talking about the wall, enjoying the warmth of a fire in a 55 gallon barrel, spending time in fellowship and enjoying refreshments inside the center.

“We came here today because it’s Jesse McPeak’s birthday,” Rod Farley, 2nd Vice President of the West Virginia Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America said.

McPeak smiled, and said simply that it was his 69th birthday. Both McPeak and Manuel Horeluk Jr., worked to make all of the guests feel at home during their stay.

Simmons said that the mobile wall cost the Vietnam veterans $14,400, “but all of it was paid for through donations we received,” he said.

Everyone who visited the wall in Kimball on Wednesday afternoon had stories to share.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com