Never Forget Vietnam: The Wall That Heals

When the Wall That Heals arrives in Montrose on July 3, one of the local veterans who will be providing the 24-hour security needed for its visit is Dewayne “Menudo” Beltran, Vietnam veteran and owner of the wonderful Montrose eatery Menudo’s (110 North Townsend Ave., here with his son.

When the Wall That Heals arrives in Montrose on July 3, one of the local veterans who will be providing the 24-hour security needed for its visit is Dewayne “Menudo” Beltran, Vietnam veteran and owner of the wonderful Montrose eatery Menudo’s (110 North Townsend Ave., here with his son.)

By Caitlin Switzer

MONTROSE—(July 2, 2013)  While young  people back in the U.S. celebrated the 1960’s with Woodstock and the Summer of Love, others spent that decade in very different circumstances.

“I was in Vietnam in 1968,” recalled John Davis of Montrose, one of the organizers working to bring the Wall that Heals to Montrose for the 2013 Fourth of July festivities. “I was in the Army, as a combat engineer in a land clearing company.”

Squad Leader Davis and his team were charged with clearing jungle by tractor so American troops could stay ahead of the Viet Cong.

“We were shot at, blowed up, bit and chewed on, and everything else,” Davis said.

After coming home, he attended college on the G.I. Bill, and retired in 2004 after 35 years in the Bureau of Land Management. He later spent several years with the U.S. Forest Service, and has put his ordnance clearing background to good use locally by helping to clean the former Delta ArtilleryRange.

There are three reasons he is proud to help bring The Wall that Heals to Cerise Park from July 3-8, Davis said. The Wall That Heals is an official half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C., and features a traveling museum and information center.

“First of all, I do it for the guys I left in Vietnam when I left,” Davis said. “I also do it because of the guys who can’t do it. And I do it for the veterans who would like to able to do it, but can’t.”

Davis, who also helped bring the privately-owned Moving Wall to Montrose in 2009, said that volunteers are still needed to provide the round-the-clock security needed during the Wall That Heals visit. Security volunteers can contact Welcome Home Montrose and the Warrior Resource Center at 970-765-2210.

The official opening ceremony will take place at 11:30 A.M. July 4, followed by a community picnic with free hot dogs and sodas for the first 1,500 attendees. The closing ceremony will be July 7 at 9 P.M., with a candlelight vigil to follow. Visiting hours will begin at Noon on July 3 and will run through 8 A.M. Monday, July 8. New for this visit will be a Bravo Bunker, a shaded area with straw bales for Veterans to gather and talk out of the sun, Davis said.

Another local Veteran helping to bring the Wall That Heals to Montrose is Randy Havens, president of Timberline Bank.

“I spent a year overseas,” Havens said. “I have friends on the Wall. This is near and dear to my heart, bringing this amazing memorial with 55,000 names to Montrose.”

Vietnam Veterans did not face a warm welcome when they did come home, he noted.

“This is a salute to Veterans of all Wars, but primarily for those who lost their lives in Vietnam,” Havens said. “It was a different time, and one we need to remember.”

Sponsors are still needed to help line Shane’s Way with huge flags, he said. Flag sponsorships are $200 apiece.

“There will be an opening ceremony after the parade, and we will have a flyover and music, with Paul Nystrom, Jeanne Houghnon and Emma Cooper,” Havens said. “And we will have a few short speeches—and we are really emphasizing short!”

“Flag waving would be great!” Davis said.

When the Wall That Heals arrives in Montrose on July 3, one of the local veterans who will be providing the 24-hour security needed for its visit is Dewayne “Menudo” Beltran, Vietnam veteran and owner of the wonderful Montrose eatery Menudo’s (110 North Townsend Ave.). Beltran, who can be found enjoying the sun at Menudo’s while his son runs the business, bears tattoos of his platoon on his arms as living memorials.

“I would do anything for veterans,” said Beltran. “I leave peaches and pound cake at the wall, everybody’s favorite C-ration.”