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Vietnam Ribbon
First Design Concept
Final Memorial Design
Raising the Funds
Rotary Park Addition
CAD Drawings
Vietnam Ribbon
 

 

BUILDING THE MONUMENT

"This is real special for me," Cecil Davis said with pride as he explained the construction details of the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans' Memorial. The Job Superintendent for Campbell Construction Company, the general contractors, Davis is himself a Vietnam veteran. "I feel honored to get to build this. Everything else I've ever done has just been a job but there's something special about this."

His feelings were glowing in his eyes and showing in his gestures as he explained the scope of the project...much larger on the ground than it had ever seemed in any of the renderings or drawings. A wall which would rise more than ten feet above the ground was just half of that on the hot afternoon in October, 90 days into the project and with just over 30 days left to complete. In the center of the wall is a place for a large outline of Texas with each of the Permian Basin counties detailed. Below that is a sloping area which will have names of those from that area who were listed as killed or missing from Vietnam service.

Davis volunteered for the Marines, leaving for induction in Abilene the day after he graduated from Midland High School in June, 1969. By Christmas of that year, he was in Vietnam serving as part of the security provided by the First Marines for the huge Air Base there. A year later he was back in the states, discharged as a Lance Corporal in 1971 and still not old enough to buy a beer.

"From the time I was in the 10th grade, I knew I was going in the service. It was just something I was supposed to do. My brother was in the Navy, several of my friends were already in the service," Davis recalled. "I just knew this was something I would do."

"I remember while I was in high school we stopped eating supper to watch the news on television, seeing the latest from Vietnam. I thought I would see my friends on the news. I didn't think about the politics or that some thought the war was unpopular. I guess it's true of young people. I never thought of the danger or the politics."

When it was over, Davis came back home to the construction industry. His MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was as a Heavy Equipment Operator. The afternoon he was interviewed, he had been operating a front-end loader. One of his workers joked, "We're trying to keep him busy on the tractor to keep him out of our way."

Davis walked around the monument, explaining the five-sided pentagon which will hold plaques of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. He pointed out how hidden spotlights would illuminate four flags (United States, Texas, and two POW/MIA) 24 hours each day and how a strip of black blocks would match the black granite that would outline the pentagon. Tan and red granite would pave the walkways or provide background for the bronze plaques. One area was reserved for memorial bricks which have helped finance the memorial which is located at Midland International Airport just west of the Reserve Center and less than a quarter-mile from the Confederate Air Force headquarters.

The memorial for many provides a finality to the last huge conflict for American military forces. "Some of the vets have come out while we have been working on the project," Davis said. "But we have learned that many more come out at night or on weekends."

Davis said his Vietnam service didn't disturb him. "I served, came home, and got on with my life." But he got very serious when he declared, "We didn't lose in Vietnam. We did what we were told to do and we did it well. What we really did was get in the middle of a civil war."

Like most construction projects, it looked like there was no way it would be completed on time. But Davis was resolute in his declaration, "It will be ready on time!"

And, almost hesitantly, Davis confides that he has been asked to answer for some of the fallen or missing troops during a roll call at the memorial's dedication. "I don't know them, but I am honored to answer for them."

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