The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress
July/August 2005
FEATURE
 
 

A Winning Tribute: The Nevada Vietnam Memorial
 

BY MARC LEEPSON

The quiet and powerful Nevada Vietnam Memorial is nestled inside Mills Park in the state capital named for the legendary frontiersman and scout Kit Carson. The memorial, which was dedicated on Veterans Day 2002 to honor 151 Nevada men killed or missing in the Vietnam War, serves as Nevada’s state Vietnam veterans memorial today due to the dedication of members of three VVA chapters: Carson Area Chapter 388 and Incarcerated Chapters 545 at the Nevada State Prison and 719 at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center, both in Carson City.

The memorial’s origins date to the early 1990s with the dedication of a small plaque and flag pole in Mills Park honoring Nevada’s Vietnam War POWs and MIAs. That modest memorial was the work of Chapter 388 with help from Chapter 719 members who were part of the low-security Stewart Conservation Camp. The effort was spearheaded by the late Harold Brown, a Chapter 388 member who was a senior corrections officer at Stewart.

In the late nineties, Mills Park underwent design changes-changes that meant that the small Vietnam Veterans Memorial would have to be moved. “The Parks Department suggested a larger memorial,” said Chapter 388 president Terry Hubert, “and that’s when I got involved.”

Hubert had joined VVA in 1995 when he was assistant warden of Nevada’s Lovelock Correctional Center, where he helped found Chapter 834. “They’re now the largest VVA chapter in Nevada,” Hubert told us in an interview, “and spend most of their time working on yard beautification projects and drug-treatment programs.” Hubert, who later transferred to the Nevada State Prison, got together with then Chapter 388 president Jim Weller, whose day job was Carson City’s Director of Public Safety, to work out the details for the new and expanded memorial. “We’re both former Marines,” Hubert said, “and we hit it off.”

Weller and Hubert met with Carson City Parks and Recreation Department architects and planners, who suggested putting up a new concrete-cast memorial. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, we have rocks. My guys would be enthused to use native sandstone to do it,’” Hubert said. City officials agreed. “So I met with inmate sculptors, and we dug up huge hunks of flag rock behind the prison,” Hubert said. That same area had provided brown sandstone rock for the prison itself, as well as for many other state buildings, including the Nevada State Capitol.

“We used old, rejected rock, several tons of it,” Hubert said. “We were thrilled to do it, and the new memorial was the result of the combined efforts of three VVA chapters, including two incarcerated.”

The Nevada Vietnam Memorial today consists of five sculpted boulders, each containing a bronze plaque engraved with the names of Nevada’s Vietnam War dead and missing. The plaques are set in stone, and the memorial is surrounded by high-desert landscaping. A flag pole and the plaque from the first Mills Park memorial stand at the center. A sandstone bench, also made by Nevada State Prison inmates affiliated with Chapter 545, was dedicated on Veterans Day 2004 honoring women who served in the Vietnam War.

The memorial “is a good thing,” Ricky Waters, a Nevada State Prison inmate who helped sculpt the rocks, told the Reno Gazette-Journal in 2002. “It’s just beneficial for everyone. Everyone wins on this kind of project.”

   

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