Greg Beck and Dan Nickelson carried on their military duties long after they returned home from the Vietnam War and back to Texarkana. The initial concept was initiated by the City; however, after a stalemate, these two men took over the construction and installation of the monument and five years later it was complete.
It was the leadership and dedication of these men who led the community to make this commemorative monument. Beck explained the perseverance and dedication these men exhibited.
“There were twenty people there working at one time. We had one guy that got shot three separate times and the last time he was shot 26 times in Vietnam. He is partially disabled in a wheel chair and he was down here chipping away at holes with one arm. He had been doing it all day and we had tried to give him a break but he wouldn’t do it. He was even holding buckets of cement with his one arm.”
“Ken Stewart, Memorial Arts, did all the engraving for free and did the granite at cost, we have $38k, but the city had estimated over $120,000. All the brick, steel, and concrete was donated. Among the donors were Carpenter Steel, Acme Brick, and five local concrete businesses.”
There was a ground breaking in July 1988 and dedication in November 1988-only five years after the idea was conceived.
The V.V.A. Chapter 278 wanted to remember those who gave their lives, 400 names of men who died or are missing in action.
“It feels good because people come up here and look at these names. These represent someone’s son or husband. There are a lot of sad stories up there.”
The Korean/Vietnam Memorial is a 32-foot concave wall of bricks, concrete, and granite. One half is devoted to the Korean War veterans and the other half is dedicated to the Vietnam War veterans. Over 400 names are engraved upon the panels.
The names represent 20 counties within a fifty-mile radius of Texarkana. They would come from nine counties in Arkansas, three parishes in Louisiana, one large county in Oklahoma, and six counties from Texas. A United States flag and the flag from each of the four states embellish the memorial.
Vietnam Veterans Association focuses on informing community and providing scholarships to the community. They have provided over $75,000 in scholarships to veterans nationally. They have over 135 members and over 30 associates in the local chapters.