Vietnam War memorial visits Camp Perry

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By Ben Cathey | 

PORT CLINTON, Ohio (WTVG) – The Vietnam War ended more than 43 years ago, and many of the veterans who served are now over 70 years old.

That makes it tough to visit the famed Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Now a gigantic replica is coming to them.

There are more than 58,000 names – like Thomas A. Toledo – on this Vietnam War memorial replica. It debuted at Camp Perry in Ottawa County. Sadly many of those names came from right here.

“He was my lieutenant that day. April 8th. 1970,” former Specialist IV Sorg said.

Meet Bill Sorg. The Elmore grandfather was just a kid during the war.

“It gets me pretty emotional,” Sorg said. “It does. How close I come to being on the wall. And these fine gentlemen honoring me.”

He says he’s been to the D.C. memorial roughly six times.

“I was in a land mine incident that killed six and wounded 23,” NCO IC Hopkins told a fellow veteran.

That’s Ernie Hopkins, former non-commissioned officer in charge. He and Bill helped bring the mammoth wall to Camp Perry for all to see.

“It is a very good alternative for all the veterans that can’t make it to Washington,” Sorg said.

“Really it’s probably more emotional now,” Hopkins added.

As soon as the first panel was set into place, the veterans arrived, and the tears flowed.

“For me now, it’s a closing experience. I can come to it, I can relate to it, and I’ll still cry at it,” Hopkins said.

“Robert Kohler,” Sorg said of a deceased veteran’s name he spotted along the wall.

“It makes you realize how close life is to a person, when it can be wiped out in a second,” Hopkins said..

In the ’70s, both Hopkins and Sorg dealt was anti-war heckling. Ernie was even called a baby killer back home in Port Clinton. Things have changed, and their grandkids are proud of our vets.

“I know sometimes, it brings back bad memories, but it’s good to remember the guys that you served with,” Sorg said.

You can even come up and etch the names, like Robert D. Duff’s and Cecil W. Sutherland’s, here at Camp Perry. The event is absolutely free and runs until June 3rd.