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After emotional four days, Traveling Wall moves on to next stop

Posted on Monday, October 15, 2018 at 12:20 pm

The rain came down Sunday, but the crowd paid no attention.

The group was gathered to pay honor and tribute to the 58,318 names engraved into the Vietnam Wall Traveling Memorial, names of people that many of those gathered knew personally.

On Sunday, the closing ceremonies took place on the Morristown campus of Walters State Community College.

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, keynote speaker for the event, reflected to the crowd of almost 200 about names on the wall of three soldiers he knew personally: First Sgt. Thomas E. Fair, Johnny Parril and Bob Perry.

“Three people I won’t ever, ever forget,” Roe said. “They never got to do what I and many of you here got to do, which is raise families, have children and grandchildren and carry on today and be here. They could not do that because they paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Fair was Roe’s scoutmaster and died in 1965 in Vietnam. He earned a Silver Star. Parril ran track with Roe in high school and was later killed.

“I can still see his face today like it was yesterday,” Roe said.

Roe found out later during a high school reunion that Perry was killed in Vietnam, they had went to elementary school together.

Three names etched into the memorial out of the 58,318.

Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney, who also spoke, talked about the names of classmates he knew, whose names are now on the wall.

“There were 58,318 American lives given in Vietnam, two of those, Jimmy Jones and Joe Mead were school classmates of mine,” he said. “Joe’s and Jimmy’s names are on this wall. Many of you have a family member or friend included.”

The Vietnam Wall Traveling Memorial arrived in Morristown on Thursday and stayed until Sunday.

Over the course of four days, thousands visited the memorial from the Lakeway Area and beyond.

Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain made remarks as did Chesney and Roe.

An honor guard from Carson-Newman University’s Army ROTC program then marched steadily through the rain that drizzled down Sunday to retire the colors. They brought down the American flag and carried it to the front of the ceremony where it was carefully folded.

As the ceremony concluded, the honor guard of the Morristown Police Department and Hamblen County Sheriff’s Office fired a 21-gun salute and “Taps” was played. Veterans stood ramrod straight, saluting the memorial, where some of their friends are listed.

“It is important for our young people to see this, so they do not forget,” Roe said.