'The Wall That Heals': Hundreds visit traveling replica of Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Peoria
Nathan J. Fish
March 16, 2019
Ballman walked over to another section of the wall, getting down on his knees and pointing to another name near the bottom, Alton L Staples III. Ballman knew him as Tony.
Staples and Ballman were in the Boy Scouts together before Staples dropped out of high school to join the military at age 17.
George Ballman looks at the name of his fallen friend at a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Pleasant Harbor at Lake Pleasant in Peoria on March 16, 2019. Nathan J. Fish/The Republic
As hundreds of visitors walked along the traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Peoria to search for the names of their family and loved ones, George Ballman, an Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam, held back tears as he remembered his fallen friends.
"You stand back and you walk through and you look at all these names," Ballman said. "They had a life, they had a family, they were real people. They played baseball, they played golf, they were kids."
Ballman gestured to one name in a sea of thousands on the wall, Harvey M. Reynolds — Mike, he called him.
"He got killed in a chopper accident, he was a mechanic … he went up in the chopper to help the pilot troubleshoot the problem," Ballman said. "He didn't make it back."
Ballman, a snowbird from Missouri, decided to volunteer at the park to help set up, but after experiencing multiple emotional moments, he decided to keep volunteering throughout the weekend.
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