Replica Vietnam Memorial Wall helping vets heal

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A replica Vietnam Memorial Wall is helping veterans in the South Valley heal.

One by one, name by name, Joe Rivera is remembering the people who died fighting in Vietnam, "I feel the emotions that they're there, on the wall, they're gone and I'm here," he said.

It's a painful feeling, a wound from the war, deeper, but less visible than the scars he wears on his arms and legs from the shrapnel of exploding mortars, "sometimes you feel like, maybe you shouldn't be here," Rivera added, "they spared you for whatever reason."

One reason, he believes, is this wall, sitting in Dinuba. A replica of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC. It has 58 thousand names on it and 12 of them belong to his friends from high school.

Rivera said, "They gave the ultimate and this is what freedom is all about -- some people just take it for granted, they need to come here and look, it is not free."

He helped get the wall here to help himself heal and give other people a chance to do the same.

Allen Lipps came to visit the wall, "To be able to reach out and touch it, it means a lot," he said. He also came to take a picture of one name, "William Allen Gilmore," he added. Gilmore was a medic in the war who gave his life to save another on the battlefield.

"He is a hero, "Lipps said, "I'm not much into superman and batman and those types of things but Allen Gilmore, I carry his name."

It's one name among thousands. Each one has a story. All of them ended in Vietnam but they will always be remembered in Dinuba.

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