History and Progress
The first and foremost objective was to find and secure a site for the project. This we did at the Colorado Welcome Center in Fruita, Colorado. The City of Fruita agreed to take on the maintenance and the liability issues. The State has deeded the property over to the City of Fruita. Fruita has incorporate the property into the City's Park System. In agreement with the City we raised $10,000.00 to help cover the cost of continuing maintenance.
The United States Army has donated a UH-1H huey helicopter for static display. The huey was located at Camp Robinson in Little Rock, Arkansas. Bill Martin and I drove out there and the Air Guard had us loaded and out the gate within two hours. The trip home was great. Bill named the huey Columbine which is the State Flower of Colorado. People were honking, waving, and giving us the thumbs up. We even had a Kansas State Patrolman pull us over and asked "where can we get one"! Our groundbreaking ceremony was March 16, 2002. United States Senator Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell was our keynote speaker. The event was a total success with hundreds of supporter's in attendance. Construction began on December 23rd, 2002. Associated Builders and Contractors of America took us on as their 2003 Community Project. FCI was our General Contractor. It is estimated that ABC donated $400,000.00 in materials and labor costs. The chopper was given a new paint job by West Star Aviation before being mounted for static display above the memorial. My brother Tom flew with the 158th/C 101st Airborne. He was part of the Phoenix Squadron. A phoenix was painted on the nose of the huey which is appropriate since the phoenix rises from the ashes.
We have worked on gaining support for the project. We gave presentations to the various service clubs, VFW's, American Legion's, County Commissioners, State Senators, and Representatives in order to gain support for a Vietnam War Memorial for the Western Slope of Colorado. We received a letter of support from Governor Bill Owens and a letter of support from U.S. Congressman Scott McInnis. Also State Senator Ron Teck and State Rep. Gayle Berry wrote us with their endorsement for the project being placed in Fruita. The Grand Junction Lion's Club awarded us a $16,000.00 grant for the lighting of the Memorial. A national organization Help Hospitalized Veterans donated $10,000.00 to help with the construction of the Memorial. We have also received $5,000.00 from the El Pomar Foundation, $5,000.00 from The Bacon Family Foundation, $3,500.00 from the Fruita Tourism Board, and $3,000.00 from the Fruita Lion's Club. Numerous organizations and people have donated to make this memorial a reality.
The Memorial has a granite wall surrounding the helicopter pad. We envisioned that anyone who served in the U. S. Armed Forces between the years of 1959-1975 regardless of "in country" Vietnam can have their name etched on the memorial. All Vietnam Era Veterans may make a donation toward a wall etching. A brick sidewalk called the "Walk of Honor" is available for anyone who would like to make a donation toward the walkway. Any Veteran, family, individual, or a company name has the opportunity to share in this wonderful memorial. We are excited about our accomplishments to date and will continue to work away on building this living memorial to our Vietnam Era Veterans.
The dedication and celebration of this wonderful memorial was on July 4th, 2003 at 9:00 AM. It was attended by more then 6,500 patriots from all over the USA. The Phoenix Squadron also attended which made the event that much more special. A huey flyover started the ceremony. At 10:00 AM 4 F-16's in a missing man formation flew over the crowd. This took place as former Joint Chief of Staff General Ronald Fogelman USAF (Ret.) is gave his keynote speech. A ribbon cutting followed and Melanie, Jayme and I officially opened the Western Slope Vietnam War Memorial Park.
A new edition to the Park was added on Nov. 11th, 2007. Three bronze statues of a Mother and Father welcoming home their son from Vietnam. It is simply titled "Welcome Home" and the artist was Richard Arnold USA (Vet) from Telluride, CO. It was another huge fund raising endeavor and the community came together once again to help in it's completion.
We started a scholarship program which is managed by Colorado Mesa University Foundation. The Board has awarded many scholarships over the last 5 years to sons and daughters of veterans as well as several veterans wanting to continue their education at Colorado Mesa University. It's a great program and if you would like to donate to it please visit our donation page.
Our 12th Annual Golf Tournament is June 12th 2010 at Adobe Creek Golf Course in Fruita, CO. The Veterans Day Celebration will be on Nov. 11th at 11:00 AM followed by our annual All Military Services Ball Nov. 12th at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, CO. These events fund the scholarship program so please attend if at all possible.
On a personal note I had the opportunity to serve on the Grand Junction City Council from 2005 thru 2009. I served as Grand Junction's Mayor for two years as well. It's been a great ride and I plan on staying active in our community as I serve currently on the Western Colorado Suicide Prevention Foundation.
I am extremely touched by your interest and care.
Thank you all.
Jim Doody - Founder