Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Wall That Heals to visit Fairfield

By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Sep 07, 2018
Photo by: VIETNAM VETERANS MEMORIAL FUND This shows an American flag at the base of The Wall That Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The traveling wall will arrive in Fairfield Tuesday and leave Sunday. It will be open 24 hours a day and free to visit.

The traveling Vietnam War memorial known as “The Wall That Heals” will visit Fairfield Tuesday and stay through Sunday.

The Wall That Heals is a three-quarter scale replica of the 500-foot Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Just like its larger counterpart, the traveling wall lists the names of the more than 58,000 Americans who died during the war, ordered chronologically by the date of their death. It travels around the country making stops in cities large and small. Fairfield is one of only two cities in Iowa that will host the wall this year, the other being Newton.


Schedule of events

Tuesday: A group of motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders and Washington Legion Riders will escort the wall from Ainsworth to Fairfield. They will hold a rally at the Ainsworth Junction Truck Stop at 2 p.m. Tuesday, and leave at 3 p.m. They will enter Fairfield from the north on Highway 1, travel through the downtown by going east on Briggs Avenue, south on Court Street, then west on Burlington Avenue to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, where the wall will be assembled. It is expected to arrive at the fairgrounds at 4 p.m.

Wednesday: American Legion Auxiliary Unit 47 is sponsoring the wall’s visit to Fairfield. Unit 47 member Mary Andersen said the wall should be set up by late Wednesday afternoon.

Once put into place, the wall will be open to the public 24 hours a day until it leaves town. Admission is free. More than 100 volunteers will be needed to welcome visitors and help the staff. A volunteer training session will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Those interested can contact Roger Frakes at 319-695-3140.

Thursday: A “welcome home” ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the fairgrounds. Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy and Ray Chambers of Jefferson County Veterans Affairs will deliver opening remarks. Retired Sgt. 1st Class James Salts will be the guest speaker. Retired Chief Warrant Officer 5 Charles Rubey will read the names of the fallen from southeast Iowa.

The Southeast Iowa Regional Fire Honor Guard of West Burlington will post the colors and play “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes. The Fairfield High School Marching Band will play the national anthem and the FHS choir will perform a song. Capt. Chris Fiske, chaplain for the 224th Engineer Battalion in Fairfield, will give the invocation and benediction.

Sunday, Sept. 16: The wall will leave Fairfield Sunday afternoon but not before a closing ceremony at 1 p.m. Andersen, Frakes and Bob Waugh will deliver reflections. Elvin E. Cecil of American Legion Post 147 of Stockport and Commander Willis Bruegge will retire the colors. Retired brigadier general and chaplain James Luder will give the closing prayer and benediction. Cecil and Bruegge will lead the rifle salute, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Six and Jeremy Crile of the 34th Army Band will play taps. The wall will be taken down at 2 p.m.


Wall and education center

The Wall That Heals is 375 feet long and is shaped like a wide “V.” It will be assembled in what was formerly the outfield of the Babe Ruth League’s baseball diamond. To the east will be a trailer containing a mobile education center. The trailer has information about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a display of items left at the wall. Perhaps the most interesting feature for local residents are the photos of all the service members on the wall who list their home in the area.

This iteration of The Wall That Heals is a newer and larger version of the original traveling wall unveiled in 1996. That replica was 248-feet long, about half the size of the wall in Washington, D.C. Newton and Fairfield are the first two cities in Iowa that will host the new and longer traveling wall.



The Legion Auxiliary has been raising money for the wall the past two years. The group began raising in the spring of 2016, but learned that the schedule for 2017 was fully booked. That gave the group more time to raise the $8,000 needed to host the wall.

The Legion Auxiliary applied for a grant from the Greater Jefferson County Foundation. Though it asked for only $500, the foundation awarded the group $2,000. Other donations have poured in from dozens of businesses and individuals.

In December 2017, the legion auxiliary learned it had won the right to host the wall in 2018, and would be one of only two Iowa cities to do so.

“It’s only in about 50 cities per year, so it was quite an honor to be chosen,” Andersen said.


Frakes’s commitment

Richland resident Roger Frakes has taken a special interest in attracting the wall to town. Frakes’s brother Jerry died during the Vietnam War, and he is one of seven men from Fairfield whose names appear on the wall. He was pleased to learn the wall would visit Fairfield so he and others could pay their respects to lost loved ones.

“Seeing your brother’s name on the wall makes it real personal, real quick,” Frakes said.

Cardinal Community School hosted a half-size replica of the wall several years ago. Frakes didn’t expect to see many people there.

“I had convinced myself that everybody had forgotten about those kids [soldiers] because it had been 30 years,” he said. “I went there to help, and the second name that was asked for was my brother’s. People haven’t forgotten them, and that’s the whole point of this wall, that nobody ever forgets those kids.”

Jerry graduated from Fairfield High School in 1967. He joined the 101st Airborne of the 173rd Regiment in the U.S. Army. He died in 1969, one of four members of the FHS class of ‘67 to die in Vietnam. The others were Jimmy L. Miller, Robert B. Haney and John D. Skirvin. Frakes said 1968 and 1969 were among the deadliest years for American servicemen.

Dennis L. O’Dell was the first Fairfield resident to die in Vietnam. Doug Peterson was badly injured in the war and died six years later. His family fought to get his name included on the wall, and eventually prevailed.

“He went ahead of the lines and dragged a guy back to safety,” Frakes said. “His Bronze Star has a ‘V’ on it for ‘valor.’ That boy was a hero.”

Michael L. Zappia is the other Fairfield resident who died in the Vietnam War and whose name is on the wall.

Frakes is looking forward to escorting the wall to town with his fellow Patriot Guard Riders, with the help of the Washington Legion Riders, Combat Veterans Association, and other veterans’ groups.

“We should have a big bike turnout,” he said. “You’ll hear us coming before you see us.”


List of names

The following is a list of local veterans whose names appear on the wall:

Bloomfield: Russell D. Martin, Gordon B. Matthews, James W. Speer.

Bonaparte: Jimmie D. Still.

Brighton: Craig A. Rich.

Fairfield: Dennis L. O’Dell, Jerry A. Frakes, Douglas E. Peterson, John D. Skirvin, Michael L. Zappia, James L. Miller, Robert B. Haney.

Keota: Samuel A. Eklofe, Thomas A. Nebel.

Mt. Pleasant: Manzelle A. Ford, Charles C. Miller, Michael D. O’Connor, Stanley D. Ross.

Ollie: Wheeler D. Brooks, Michael K. Wonderlich.

Ottumwa: Michael H. Beaver, Larry D. Bleything, Duane A. Cottrell, Paul D. Ekart, John F. Link, Kenneth A. Mallonee, Terry V. Miller, David L. Parish, Terry Roberts, Russell C. Scully, Dike Spillman.

Richland: Bryan L. Wilson.

Sigourney: Marvin F. Wehr.

Washington: Willard J. Friese, Robert G. Harvey, Larry E. Smith.


Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Joseph Peiffer | Sep 09, 2018 20:42
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