Military News

Replica of Vietnam Memorial Wall arrives in South Sound

Some jobs are about more than numbers.

Beyond the logistics of transporting and erecting The Wall That Heals, a 250-foot-long half-scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, Tim Tetz still gets choked up watching people experience it for the first time.

“Absolutely,” Tetz said. “This is moving because every community brings their own sons and daughters to it. Whether you meet someone who lost a son or meet someone seeing their grandfather’s name for the first time, it’s moving no matter what community you come into.”

Tetz, director of public outreach for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, travels with the replica as it is hauled to sites around the country and arrived in the Tacoma area on Wednesday from Rainier, Oregon.

The Parkland trucking firm Interstate Distributor is sponsoring the placement of the replica at its headquarters at 11707 21st Ave. Ct. S., where it will be on display beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday through 5 p.m. Saturday. The company will also host a welcoming ceremony at 11 a.m Thursday, featuring Memorial Fund President Jim Knotts and Brig. Gen. Kurt J. Ryan of the 593rd Sustainment Command.

A crew of Interstate mechanics and maintenance employees carefully carried each of the 140 powder-coated aluminum panels into position in a vacated parking lot. The trailer also serves as a mobile education center, detailing the history of the memorial and displaying some of the 400,000 items that have been left behind at the wall.

Not only does the replica bear the names of the more than 58,000 military service members who died in the Vietnam War, it is also a remarkably faithful reproduction of the original on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“It’s very important that it’s the correct memorial,” Tetz said, pointing out that the name misspelled on panel one east is also misspelled on the original monument, which was built by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.

Due in part to its proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, honoring servicemen and women has become a point of pride for Interstate. The company recently started a truck driver training program for military veterans.

“There’s a lot of us who have very personal ties to the military, I grew up as a military kid,” said Chief Financial Officer James Reed. “It’s important to us on a lot of different levels. It’s an opportunity to give our veterans opportunities to work in commercial fields they’ve been trained in.”