Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 124 recently unveiled a 5-foot-by-4-foot black granite memorial on the grounds of the Charles George VA Medical Center in Asheville, N.C., after a one-year push to create something more permanent than visits from the traveling wall.
A five-man committee — Ben Maultsby (chair), Allen Kowalsky, Carroll “Spider” Trantham, Ted Minnick and James Stamey — spearheaded the effort and designed the monument, which features etched images of mountains, the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., a fallen soldier’s cross and a map of Vietnam. Five granite benches, representing the military branches that served in Vietnam — Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard — form a semi-circle around the memorial.
The rear of the memorial bears 164 names of veterans from Western North Carolina who died in Vietnam. Finding the names proved challenging, since the definition of Western North Carolina varies, and some of the veterans’ home towns listed in the 1960s and ’70s are no longer in existence. “We knew we couldn’t cover every contingency,” Maultsby told the Citizen-Times, “so we stuck with the names as they are listed on the Wall in Washington.”
The WNC Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated Sept. 28 in a ceremony featuring the Transylvania County and Cherokee Nation Honor Guards. WNC Gold Star Mothers and Gold Star Families were invited to attend, along with members of the public.