Vietnam POW/MIAs Memorial Wall of the United States Branson dedication scheduled

The Vietnam POW/MIAs Memorial Wall of the United States will be dedicated in a ceremony on July 4 at 10 a.m. at the Branson Mall in the Veterans Walk of Fame. The wall’s creator, Leo Voss, will be attending.

Sponsored by Branson’s Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Chapter 913, the Vietnam POW/MIAs Memorial Wall of the United States counts those who have never been found from the Vietnam War and the secret wars in Laos. From Minnesota, Voss built the wall in 2000. A Marine who served in Vietnam, his commitment and dedication to build the wall developed through his experiences as a leader of the Southwest Minnesota POW/MIA Color Guard and through giving speeches, talking about the thousands of Americans left behind at the end of the wars waged in Vietnam and Korea.

In speaking, the numbers “go right over peoples’ heads. When you see the names – that touches peoples’ hearts,” Voss said.

Etched with some 2,560 names, it is a stark reminder of those who have not returned. Some of the names are marked with white, green and/or red stars. White stars mark the POW/MIAs whose remains have been returned – only 17 percent of those listed. Green stars are beside 11 percent of the names – POW/MIAs who might have survived captivity. Red stars, almost 10 percent, denote the soldiers who fought in the secret wars in Laos.

“What better day could we choose to dedicate this wall than the very day we celebrate our Independence? Let us not forget those who may have lost theirs,” said President of VVA Chapter 913 Bill Groninger, who served in the Air Force. “There are significances in all of those names. Each name deserves an accounting. Our group is helping update the list of names on the wall to keep it current.

Groninger said the chapter has also planned a book in memory of those on the wall and will attempt to locate information on all listed. We plan to enlist the assistance of students from Hollister (Mo.) High School with the book project. As the Memorial Wall’s creator, Leo Voss has completed the research on those from his home state of Minnesota. We want to help him with the rest. Another way the public can be involved is by supporting this project. The Branson VVA may be contacted at 417-230-6446.