Traveling Vietnam War Memorial at Spring Grove Cemetery
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -
If you are choosing to spend your holiday weekend here at home, there is a must-see stop is over in Spring Grove. Check-out the American Veterans Traveling Tribute display.
The flag was lowered for the day late Friday night at sunset by Boy Scouts, while a bugler played taps.
The traveling version of the Vietnam Veterans Wall in Washington, D.C. is here for the weekend. It's nearly the size of the real deal and we met a Marine, with an amazing story of love and friendship.
Here's why he said you will walk away from the wall a changed person.
"I would say that I learned that you didn't have to die to go to hell," said Duke Heller of Cleves, OH. That's how he described his tour in Vietnam.
He is one of only six Marines, out of 80 in a horrific combat operation, that made it out alive.
"I was worried that the Vietnam War was going to be over before I could get over there," he said with a smile. "You wanted to go?," we asked. "yeah," he said. "Did you re-think that once you got there?," we asked. "Well, once I got there I thought, uh oh, what I was thinking you know."
Duke was part of the 9th Marines, known as the walking dead.
"Actually, there are 618 names of 9th Marines on this wall," he said. "The most of any outfit."
And one of those names?
"Right there, Eddie V. Oliver Junior," said Jeffrey Oliver, his younger brother, as he pointed to his brother's name on the wall.
Eddie Oliver was killed in bloody combat, right next to his best friend Duke.
"They had a deep friendship," Oliver said. "A deep friendship."
"Eddie was killed on February the 20th 1969," Heller said. :"We were trying to take a hill."
It poured rain for days, under intense sniper and mortar fire.
"We had to wait for the weather to break to get a chopper in to even find out where we were," Heller said. He and a buddy wrapped Eddie in his rain poncho and kept his body for almost a week.
"We kept Eddie until we got a chopper in to get him out," he said and that's how his body, eventually ended-up in the Spring Grove Cemetery, thanks to Heller's efforts.
"I was probably 7 or 8," said Jeffrey Oliver. Eddie was Jeffrey's older brother. He remembers the day his brother died.
"I was out playing and I saw two military gentleman walking and I was hoping they wouldn't go to my house," Oliver said. "I didn't know how knew, but somehow knew."
"For the first time I saw my dad cry," Oliver said. "Mom was crying and everyone was sad, I asked what was going on, they said your brother just died."
The traveling memorial wall is amazing. It is an 80-percent replica of the actual memorial we saw in D.C. on the Honor Flight we took two weeks ago.
It is more than 380-feet long and stunning to see.
"There's no charge to come," said Brad Palmer, who is Director of Events at the historic cemetery. "Of course, we have ample parking, and we'd just like the people of Cincinnati to come out and pay their respects to those that lost their lives in Vietnam and the other wars, and again, it's just a time of celebration, a time to come out and show your appreciation for the lives that were sacrificed for our freedom."
"Hopefully, there'll be a lot more guys, coming-along like Eddie and me," said Heller fondly of his time in the service.
Jeffrey Oliver said he is proud of his brother and all of the names on the wall.
"I can do what I do because they did what they did," Oliver said gratefully.
Gwen Mooney, who is President at Spring Grove, said it took Duke Heller 39 years of tireless work, to get a military marker placed on Oliver's grave at Spring Grove. That is what you'd call, a truly devoted friend.
There is a "Salute to Veterans" this Sunday at 2pm. The wall is open to the public starting Saturday morning, so get down there and check it out. You will be glad you did. They're expecting up to 20-thousand people over the course of the holiday weekend.