OSCODA – It was a bright and sunny day in Veteran’s Memorial Park for the laser etched wall unveiling on Saturday afternoon.
A crowd of people filled the park in anticipation for the big reveal. The posting of colors from the Oscoda American Legion and Veteran’s of Foreign Affairs kicked off the event. The National Anthem followed shortly after performed by Father and Son duo Dan and Danny Althouse from the local band Victory 4 and Dr. James Kent followed with the invocation.
Veteran’s Memorial Park Chairperson Rose Mary Nentwig followed by welcoming everyone and thanking them for being there.
“A lot of you know me and (I’m not going to cry) that this was a labor of love for me,” she said.
Nentwig expressed her gratitude for all the parties that made the wall possible including Lamrock Electric, Butterson Construction, JT Underground, Design Industrial, Elmer’s Concrete and Tawas Bay Etchworks. Shortly after thanks were given, the wall was revealed by John Bolen and Brian Pelton of Tawas Bay Etchworks, as well as, Travis Pearsall. The crowd gasped and applauded at the sight of the new wall many remarking at the intricate details of the scene etched on.
Retired CW3 U.S. Army Veteran and Veteran’s Memorial Park Board Member Joe Brinn followed the unveiling explaining what the image depicted. He explained that the mural was a conglomeration of a couple of different photos, but the main photo was taken by Associated Press Photographer Horst Faas in 1965. He said that the photo was taken early on in the war because it depicts B model helicopters which were some of the first helicopters flown in Vietnam.
Brinn also said that most of the troops were South Vietnamese with the addition of American Advisors and American Soldiers in the photo. The photo itself depicts the soldiers heading off to a suspected Vietcong Encampment just northwest of Saigon near the Cambodian border, according to Brinn.
“That’s the primary photo. The reason we picked this is Vietnam is known as a helicopter war, so the initial image we thought helicopters should have been the first representation of our first mural,” said Brinn.
Brinn said there will be other murals with other images of Vietnam on the next wall. In the Future, Brinn plans to have walls for the Iraqi/Afghanistan War, Korean War, World War II and World War I. Brinn also said he’d like to have five to 10 laser engraved park benches and a donation column added to the park in addition to landscaping the area.
“We want to make this the nicest park in northeast Michigan, so people would come here and pay a tribute to all the services and all the veterans,” said Brinn.
After all the remarks and thanks, Danny Althouse performed “They Died for This” and Dan Althouse performed “American the Beautiful”. Free hotdogs and water were served following the ceremony.