RUN FOR THE WALL (OR) HARRY'S AT IT AGAIN
Run for the Wall VVA785 2006 Website by Mustang, Thu April 13, 2006
Orange County, California - April 13, 2006 - Vietnam veteran and former 9th Engineer, Mike Cummins, came up with a great idea - Develop an internet web site to chronicle the stories, experiences, and pictures of the 9th Engineer Battalion Vietnam veterans and members of Orange County, California Chapter 785 of the Vietnam Veterans of America as they participate in the annual cross-country Run For The Wall. Well, his idea will soon be reality because on May 17, 2006 veterans from 9th Engineers and VVA 785 will depart Ontario, California with about 300 other RFTW veterans on their motorcycles as they begin their annual mission to promote healing among all veterans, and to call for an accounting of all Prisoners Of War and those Missing In Action, and to honor the memory of those killed in action from all wars.
The engineer and VVA 785 vets will join together to post daily journals with stories, personal experiences, and pictures of the places they pass and the people they meet as they travel with RFTW along its central route. Visitors to the site will be able to track the veterans on an interactive map as they make their way to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The Wall, in Washington D.C. The riders are scheduled to arrive at The Wall on Friday, May 26 and will participate in the Rolling Thunder Parade on Sunday, May 28. The web site will also chronicle the purpose of RFTW - its ability to heal and to return focus to remembering those who are still listed as POW-MIA.
Among the writers will be two former Marines, Terry Porter and Harry Parmer, and two former Navy Corpsmen Jim "Doc" Finch and Dennis "Doc" Thompson, all having served with 9th Engineer Battalion in Vietnam. Each will post daily journals on the web site about their ride with RFTW and about the Marines they served with.
The 9th Engineer Battalion is known for constructing the longest bridge in the history of the Marine Corps over the Song Ba Ren River located 29 miles south of Danang, and for building the Dickey Chapelle church and dispensary in Chu Lai.
Dickey Chapelle was the pioneering female war photographer and journalist who covered World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. She loved and was loved by Marines and was respected for going to the front lines, for humping her own gear, for getting in the mud, for going on patrols so she could tell the real story, and for showing what her "boys" were going through. On November 4, 1965 while on patrol with a U.S. Marine unit in the jungles of Chu Lai, she was killed by a land mine. In 1966 Marines from the 9th Engineer Battalion constructed the church and dispensary that was named in her honor.
Also posting will be one of the founding members of Orange County's Chapter 785 of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Bill "Monsoon" Mimiaga, a former Marine Drill Instructor and retired officer who now works as a middle school teacher at Long Beach Unified School District in Long Beach, CA. Bill was recently named California's middle school teacher of the year and when he told his school principal about the web site she got so excited she told him to develop lesson plans for the entire trip.
As a result, students at Long Beach Unified School District will now be able to complete lesson plans on the history of the Vietnam War, its impact on America, including the geopolitical issues of the war itself. Other lesson plans connect to places along the central route that have historical and cultural interest, geography applications, and math exercises to calculate mileage distances and gas consumption. The learning opportunities this web site will provide are tremendous.
Students will be able pull up the web site on their computers anytime during the day or night to track the veteran's progress as they cross the nation on their mission of healing, honor, and remembrance. The web site will enable students to get first-hand knowledge from the veterans who were there, and to read their respective stories about their mission to honor those who died in war and to keep the memory alive of those who are still listed as POW-MIA.
Another VVA 785 writer, Wayne Nicholls, who served with the U.S. Army's 199th Light Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, will chronicle his experiences and the experiences of the widowed wife and three sons of his boyhood friend, Steven Neal. Steven, a Vietnam Veteran and former L. A. County Sheriff Captain, recently and unexpectedly died of a heart attack. His three sons, all police officers too, will be taking turns riding their father's motorcycle as they and their mother travel with the veterans on RFTW. Wayne's journal will chronicle their trip as they follow the same route their father rode last year on his mission of healing and remembrance.
Also from VVA Chapter 785 are members who are sons and daughters of veterans who were killed in Vietnam. They will go as far as Angel Fire, NM and will join together to write about their fathers and their respective experiences as they ride with veterans who served in Vietnam with their fathers.
There is no doubt that Mike's idea of developing this web journal will provide a magnificent learning opportunity for anyone who visits the site. It will also open a window to a compelling and poignant chronicle as to why veterans take this annual journey to ride for those who can't, and why our country should forever honor those we will never forget.