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Veterans pay respects to comrades at Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall

The wall spans about two blocks long and has 85,000 names of US service members that were killed or are still missing.
Posted at 6:38 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 19:38:13-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On the United States Marine Corps’ 247th Birthday and a day before Veteran’s Day, a community gathered to remember the lives lost in Vietnam.

Veterans like Mateo Ruelas.

“19 years old,” Pedro Cruz said. “He was killed by a sniper.”

Ruelas was a dad, a soldier, and a friend to Cruz.

“He showed me a picture of a little baby,” Cruz said. "He must have been about two weeks, three weeks old and he left for Vietnam."

Ruelas’ name is one of nearly 58,000 names on the Vietnam Travelling Memorial Wall that was put up on Cpl. Daniel Alarcon Street in Historic Downtown Kingsville on Thursday.

25,000 of them were under the age of 20.

Cruz found another familiar name etched in the black granite.

“Hector Valentine Perez,” Cruz said.

It was an emotional reminder that freedom isn’t free.

Also on the wall, which spans about two blocks and is six feet high at its center, nine women who were nurses.

997 service members lost their lives on their first day in Vietnam, and 1,448 died on their last day of duty.

“He had already gotten word that he was going home and they put him on my squad and he got killed,” Cruz said about Perez.

The Vietnam Memorial Wall in D.C. was completed on November 11, 1984.

The replica was created for those who can't fly to the capitol, the chance to honor their friends or family in their hometowns.

“I’m here to remember them and give tribute to their service to America and to their families in Odem and Edroy,” Joe Martinez, a retired history teacher said.

The wall is in Kingsville from Thursday, Nov. 10 until Sunday night.

Volunteers will be available to help people find names from every day from sun up to sun down.