Vietnam veterans maintain online tribute to fallen heroes
By DAWSON RASPUZZI Correspondent | November 11,2006
Vietnam War veteran Ken Davis believes that he has an obligation to himself, the men who fought beside him more than 30 years ago and the families who lost loved ones during the war.
It's the reason Davis spends an average of 40 to 45 hours a week updating the Vietnam War memorial Web site www.VirtualWall.org.
The Web site, which fellow Vietnam veteran Jim Schueckler created in 1997, is a nonprofit site that lets family and friends remember loved ones who were killed while fighting in the war.
"The greatest fear that families have is that no one remembers except them," Davis, a naval aviator during Vietnam, said.
The Web site allows people to submit their thoughts and recollections about the men who died in Vietnam — scripting them into history so their efforts will never be forgotten.
"I knew only a few of the people on the wall, between people I grew up with, went to school with or served with," Davis said. "But I look at it as a duty and an obligation to the people we didn't know but shared a common ground with to help memorialize them."
Davis stumbled across Schueckler's site six years ago and asked if he could help. As a retired man who had previously owned a computer programming shop, Davis' knowledge advanced the site, and he soon began maintaining it.
Schueckler, an army helicopter pilot who transported troops during his time in Vietnam, continues to do the practical matters for the site and answer people's questions through e-mails
More than 58,000 Americans died in the Vietnam War, and of those approximately 8,000 have been memorialized on the Web site. Davis doesn't believe that the number is what's important though, instead, he is just pleased that there is a way for people to share stories and remember the people who didn't survive the war.
Every person working with the site is either a Vietnam veteran or a family member of a person who died in the war.
Glen Luse, whose brother's name is memorialized on the virtual wall, is in charge of the public relations aspect of the site.
These three men are the only people who work almost every day with the site, although there are other people who are "on-call" said Davis.
There are other sites on the Internet that memorialize the lives of people who were lost during the Vietnam War, but Davis believes that this site is unique from the rest. "Other sites are in it for the money. Everywhere you look they are asking for donations. We don't accept donations because we have a duty to do it. That difference in mindset is important," Davis said.
Because Schueckler lives in New York, Luse in Iowa, and Davis in Georgia, the trio has never met in person. They consider themselves, however, close because of the bond they share through their time served in Vietnam. They stay in contact with each other through phone and e-mails regularly.
The Web site demands a lot of time and hard work to maintain, Davis said.
"Every time I get an e-mail from someone we've helped, that is all the pay we deserve," Davis said.