Carson veterans dedicate state Vietnam Veterans Memorial | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson veterans dedicate state Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Jill Keller, Appeal Staff Writer

Photo by Cathleen AllisonSteven Orr and his daughter Katie, 7, of Gardnerville, share a quiet moment following the dedication ceremony for the state Vietnam Veteran's Memorial at Mills Park on Monday afternoon.

Sunshine warmed tear-streaked faces and hands clasped together in prayer Monday during the unveiling of the state’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Carson City’s Mills Park.

Veterans Day was marked this year by the rededication of the memorial that now contains names of 151 Nevada servicemen who died in Vietnam.

“Bless this memorial,” said Chaplain Bruce Bertram. “Keep it safe, keep it holy. Allow it to be a place for veterans and their families to come touch a name and release those feelings that we have held for 30 years.”

The gathering of more than 200 veterans and community members honored all veterans Monday during the ceremony that included music by the Carson High School Blue Thunder band, emotional words and poems.

A 17-balloon release symbolized each year of the war. One black balloon was released for those who are missing in action.

For Carson City resident Ray Alcorn, 62, the tribute brought back many memories, “some of them good and some of them bad.”

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While serving on the USS Enterprise flying an A-4 Skyhawk, Alcorn was shot down and taken as a prisoner of war in December 1965. He was released eight years later and went on to serve as commander at the Fallon Naval Air Station.

“I think it’s just really great that finally veterans from Vietnam who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country to get a place where they can be honored,” Alcorn said.

Mari and Louie Bidart of Winnemucca came to the memorial with their daughter, Lynda Walton, and her son, Jamie, to place the first flag by the stone that now carries their son’s name.

David “Davey” Bidart was serving in the 101st Airborne Division when he was killed March 5, 1968. The family helped unveil the new memorial.

“We’re very grateful people put their hearts and minds together” to create the memorial, Bidart said. The family still feels the pain of the loss of their son, she said. “The void never leaves,” Mari Bidart said.

Chapter 388, 545 and 719 of the Vietnam Veterans of America sponsored Monday’s event.

Five boulders with plaques identify the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from Nevada who died or are still missing in action. The memorial is the only one of its kind in the state.

Chapter 388 raised funds and worked with Carson City Parks and Recreation Department and Nevada state prisons department to put the memorial together.