Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Celebrates 20th Annivers - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial Celebrates 20th Anniversary

By Alicia Neaves
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - A special ceremony took place on this Veteran's Day. On November 11, 1994, the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial was built. Tuesday marked the 20th anniversary.

The cold weather didn't stop a crowd of veterans from gathering and remembering those who lost their lives during the Vietnam War.

"It's Veteran's Day. What it ought to be is every day ought to be Veteran's Day," Vietnam War Veteran, Bill McNeill, said.

McNeill helped build the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"There's always somebody that's gonna go take care of business so everybody else can enjoy their lives and be free. That's what this country is about," McNeill said.

McNeill doesn't just visit the memorial on Veteran's Day, he spends a lot of time out here.

"There's 225 boys on that wall right there that gave their lives in Vietnam. Some of them were my school mates, one of them was my best friend," McNeill said.

"People that are here today all have different stories. There is a common brotherhood among each and every one. We're all brothers in arms. We served our country and we're proud of it," Air Force Veteran, Darrell Thornton, said.

Thornton says time apart makes no difference to vets. When reunited, it's like time never passed.

"If you haven't seen them for 10 years, you walk up to them and it's just like old times. It doesn't stop. It's forever," Thornton said.

Among those in the crowd Tuesday morning was Luis Tijerina. His brother served as a captain in the Air Force in the Vietnam War and lost his life shortly before completing his tour.

"He had 30 days left to come home and they asked for volunteers to go pick up some wounded and he volunteered and he didn't make it back," Tijerina said.

Now the name of Tijerina's brother, Alberto Tijerina, Junior, is engraved on the Permian Basin Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

"What I have learned with these other veterans is that there is a camaraderie and there is a familiarity with them. They have accepted me as one of their own, so I have other brothers now," Tijerina said.

A statement that seemed like the norm among veterans Tuesday morning was instead of them thanking other vets only on Veteran's Day, they aim to do it 365 days a year.

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