“There are a lot of reasons why we went to Vietnam,” Bellah said. “Did any here go to Vietnam because of their personal politics? I don't think so. I think we went to Vietnam because our government said we want you to go Vietnam. So we went to Vietnam, whether it was in the United States Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, we did what we were told. We went where we were told to go, we did what we were told to do.”
AmVets Post 133 Commander Jim Vines said he was in a squad of seven in 1967 when an explosion killed everyone but him.
“Their names are on that wall,” Vines said. “I should be on that wall by all rights. But I'm not, and I have often wondered, and for the most part of 41 years, I didn't understand why I was the only one who survived that moment. “
Vines said he learned that reason soon after returning to Mineral Wells in 2008, when he learned of and became involved in the efforts to build the National Vietnam War Museum. When the replica wall was dedicated in 2009, Vines said he walked it with a reluctant fellow veteran. They found the names of people they knew.
“I knew then and there why I was afforded the opportunity to continue to walk the face of this Earth,” Vines said. “The Lord at that moment had called me out to serve. He has asked me to find veterans who need help, guidance, need love and need understanding and to try to make their lives a little bit easier.”
Following the speeches, candles were lighted in honor of the fallen men and women killed in Vietnam. Nellie Anguiano, a sister of Tony's, did the honors of lighting the tree and, with the sun setting below the western hills, everyone walked the wall, looking for, remembering and touching the names of heroes lost to that far away war.