Texans killed in Vietnam recognized at LBJ Library



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Posted on March 24, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 10:58 AM

AUSTIN -- More than 100 volunteers took time Sunday to read the names of the Texans killed in the Vietnam war.

Each of those names is included in a new exhibit at the LBJ Library. It was one of the most controversial wars in United States history. 58,220 Americans died, and 3,417 of them were Texans.

Inside the LBJ Library, the names of the fallen service members from Texas are read.

Recognition Vietnam veterans say is long overdue. Because when these American heroes returned home there were no parades, no celebrations.

"It was hard to believe that you would come back to a country that you're representing and to have this happen to you, I wouldn't wish that on anybody," said Vietnam veteran Jim Torres.

Texas is making up for it. This reading is one of several events commemorating the groundbreaking of a Vietnam veterans statue that will be placed at the Texas State Capitol.

"Prior to this there's no tribute to Vietnam veterans on capitol grounds. And it's the only war not represented, which was just one more insult," said Vietnam veteran Don Dorsey.

An ammo box containing dog tags with the names of the Texans who died will be placed inside the sculpture. A matching set of the dog tags is on display at the LBJ library.

And the Vietnam veteran who handmade each one of these says he doesn't want people to look at this as a memorial, but rather a monument honoring the service of these soldiers.

"Our job as veterans is to remember these kids well. Were it not for things like this, they would be just people lost in war," said Dorsey.

Dorsey was a Sergeant and Marine Corps sniper.  He spent 400 hours making the tags.

He wanted to create something people could touch -- a way for them to feel connected -- and for veterans to deal with feelings they locked away.

"When you're doing the jobs I was doing, emotions get in your way, so you really didn't have time to grieve," Dorsey said.

But the emotions still surface. Veteran Elroy Rodriguez feels guilt because a friend he convinced to join the Marine Corps with him was killed in action. Touching his tag, eases the pain.

"It's a God-send. I was telling someone it's a place where the veterans can come and meditate," said Rodriguez.

And a place where they can hold their heads up high, a tribute to their service.

"Even though it's a controversial war, the lives aren't controversial. They're friends and brothers and fathers," said Dorsey.

Men whose names are now forever a part of Texas history. The Texas Vietnam heroes exhibit will be on display through July, when it will be taken to San Antonio.

The groundbreaking for the monument was held at 10 a.m Monday on the northeast side of the Capitol.

KVUE will have more on the ceremony at 6 p.m.