SWLA Vietnam veterans share their stories with LPB

SWLA Vietnam veterans share their stories with LPB
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)
(Source: Maranda Whittington/KPLC)

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - On Veterans Day Lake Charles makes sure no one is forgotten for their sacrifices.

This year Louisiana Public Broadcasting provided a chance for Vietnam veterans to share their stories.

"It's got to be up here somewhere," said Vietnam veteran Neal Moore.

Moore is searching for a particular location.

"There it is," he said. "That's why I kept looking this way. I knew it was up this way."

And luckily for him, he just found it. That location is a spot on a map of Vietnam where he will leave his signature.

"The first time I was with the Vietnamese adviser, and now I'm with the 173rd Airborne Brigade," said veteran Hector Ponton.

But he's not alone. Ponton is leaving his signature, too.

Louisiana Public Broadcasting brought a 20-by-30- foot map to Lake Charles with one goal.

"We would really like everyone, every Vietnam veteran that is in the state of Louisiana... we would love to get their signature," said underwriting director for LPB, Jeanne Smith.

This map has been making its way through the state of Louisiana. LPB says they have close to 250 signatures, and over 40 of those came from Vietnam veterans here in Southwest Louisiana.

"I was on the USS Maddox when the boats came out and attacked us," said veteran Clifford Gillespie.

So many stories that a map and a signature produce from those who saw the unimaginable.

"The map, it's a tool to get them talking," said Smith. "It creates dialogue in a physical sense, where asking someone a lot of questions does not."

LPB isn't just preserving their history with a map. Some veterans are choosing to have their experiences recorded for all to see.

But no matter the time, or the place, the memories these veterans share is something appreciated more than many will ever know.

"Indeed an honor," said Ponton. "And I wouldn't regret the fact that I was able to serve."

LPB says they recorded ten oral interviews Saturday. They will be added to the Louisiana Digital Media Archive for all to view.

If you would like to view the interviews, click HERE.

LPB plans to collect interviews every Wednesday at their studio in Baton Rouge at 7733 Perkins Road until June.

If you can't make it to Baton Rouge but would like to record and submit your own testimony, click HERE.

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