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TSgt. Donald Springsteadah

DOB: 23 October 1932

Hometown: Millville, NJ

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Vietnam Memorial in Millville restored, ready for rededication

 

By EDWARD VAN EMBDEN, Staff Writer

Cumberland County, PressofAtlanticcity.com

 

Jul 26, 2010

MILLVILLE - Millville's Vietnam Memorial had started to show its age.

Dedicated more than 30 years ago, the industrial look of the memorial - a thin metal slab with two medallions affixed to it - as well as damage caused by decades of bad weather indicated that it needed to be updated.

With the help of several volunteers and organizations, including members of the original Jaycees Memorial Committee responsible for the original piece, the memorial has undergone its facelift. Now, all that's left is to rededicate it.

Commissioner Dave Vanaman, one of the original Jaycees - a civic-minded leadership training organization - is one of the many people responsible for bringing the memorial up to date.

When Millville installed the memorial to honor seven Millville residents who had died in Vietnam, it was the first of its kind in the country, Vanaman said. Recognizing those who lost their lives fighting for this country is just as important today as it was then, he said.

"I've always had the deepest respect for veterans," said Vanaman, who had a brother who serve in the military. "I was involved in the original one and I wanted to be involved in the rededication."

The effort was organized by Gus Schick, past commander of the American Legion and a combat-wounded Vietnam veteran. In addition to the Jaycees, Schick also enlisted the help of the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, Tom Walkup of Fathers for Patriot Park and Susan Walkup-Justis, organizer of the Tom Walkup Jr. Memorial Poker Run.

Together, the groups were able to raise several thousand dollars, which not only cleaned the two bronze medallions but also purchased a 5,500-pound black granite base. The obelisk is reminiscent of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

The medallions now have their original bronze color back. On one of the medallions, a soldier is tending to his fallen brother. On the other, an inscription asks that those who have died be remembered.

Millville resident and Vietnam veteran Ed Cox happened to be driving by when he saw the new memorial, which has not had its official rededication yet. He parked his car and got out with his camera to take a few pictures.

"It's nice to know these guys are remembered," the 62-year-old said. "They deserve to be, all 58,000 (the number of soldiers who died in Vietnam), they all deserve this.

"We're all proud that somebody cares."

Walkup-Justis started the poker run as a way to honor her brother's memory; Walkup, a flight engineer, died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan in 2003. The poker run is approaching its seventh year and has grown.

Now, it's not just about honoring her brother, Walkup-Justis said, but honoring all veterans who have served.

"In starting this, I've gotten really close to a lot of veterans," she said. "It's brought a lot of different emotions into this."

The official rededication of the memorial is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sept. 11, prior to Millville's annual 9/11 memorial tribute. Vanaman has asked for the public's help in finding relatives of the seven men who are memorialized so they know that their family members have not been forgotten.

Vanaman said he has spoken with relatives of Donald Springsteadah, Salum Chard Jr., and Walter Vichosky Jr. He's still seeking relatives of Thomas Snyder, Paul "Jaime" Neely, Joseph Musselman and Robert Sheppard.

His hope is that representatives of each family will help rededicate the memorial.

Contact Edward Van Embden:

856-649-2072

eVanEmbden@pressofac.com

Relatives sought

If you are a relative or know relatives of the soldiers honored on the Millville Vietnam Memorial, contact Commissioner Dave Vanaman

at 856-327-3332 or e-mail him at davebulk@aol.com.