When Pat Daniels, past president of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 154 meets anyone who tells him that they are a Vietnam veteran, he asks them three questions: ‘When did you serve, who were you with and how do you feel?’

“If they get the first two right,” Pat smiles, adding that he and his fellow vets are suspicious by nature, “The health question becomes extremely important.  A lot of Vietnam veterans are suffering from the effects of the war to this day, whether it’s PTSD or the potentially life-threatening consequences of Agent Orange Exposure.  If the vet tells me he’s had prostate cancer, diabetes, liver problems, even psychiatric issues, my next statement is, ‘We’ve got to talk.’  A lot of vets are entitled to benefits they didn’t even know existed.”

Daniels, a former manager at Belle Tire, served with distinction in Vietnam but returned home to East Detroit to the sort of lukewarm reception that’s been echoed countless times by Michigan’s proud servicemen.

Now retired, he’s dedicated his life to ensuring that his fellow vets are aware of the benefits due them, compensation they earned.  “Even if they applied in the past and were denied,” Pat says, “I urge them to contact  the Veteran Support Center in Roseville.  A lot of what was not compensable earlier may be compensable now.”

Another one of his volunteer efforts centers around the Michigan Vietnam Veteran Traveling Memorial, and the Visionalist crew caught up with him at the Gibraltar Trade Center on April 12 as he set up the profound, inspirational display.  Meant to commemorate the Michigan soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Vietnam, the ‘Wall’ consists of one hundred forty-five stark, black and white panels listing the names of each of our more than 2,600 KIA/MIA.   

As a side note, with the current toll of Americans killed in Vietnam at 58,169, that averages a little more than a thousand per State.  Using those statistics, Michigan’s contribution to this conflict was 2½  times the  national average.

Like the national war memorial in Washington, D.C., which honors members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War and who died in service or are still unaccounted for, Michigan Vietnam Veteran Traveling Memorial does not require that you come to it—it comes to you.  With Pat and his crew of volunteers, most of whom are fellow Vietnam vets, the Wall is set up in trade centers, VFW Halls; anywhere there is a gathering of people who need to be made aware of the extent of what Michigan did to support the United States in this war.  As much honor is due the men and women whose names are engraved on the Michigan Vietnam Veteran Traveling Memorial as is due to our Greatest Generation, World War II veterans—but regrettably, they don’t always receive it.

Although the thousands of names on the Traveling Memorial are a sobering reminder of a generation lost to a controversial conflict, they are, in the end, just that: A list of names.  Bringing the humanity of these brave soldiers, Marines, Seamen, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen to the forefront is the efforts of Ruth Babcock, also of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 154.  She has painstakingly created a series of scrapbooks which shares personal information about each of the individuals whose names appear on the Wall, complete with photographs, their military history, their back story and details of their deaths.  Wherever possible, she and her husband Charlie, an Air Force veteran, have taken photographs of their gravestones, and these are attached to the biographies.

The Moving Wall is itself the creation of  Kurt Damrow, a  retired Michigan Air National Guard Staff Sergeant from Port Austin, MI.  He first conceived of the wall as a tribute in memory of his cousin, Navy GMG3 Oliver Damrow of Kinde, Michigan, who was killed shortly after his return to Vietnam for his second tour of duty.

"Oliver's dedication to duty and to those with whom he served would not allow him to stay at home...not without his men...he returned to Vietnam. Oliver was killed in hostile fire on PBR-658 with Navy River Patrol Forces Task Force 116 at Phong Ding, South Vietnam, on June 11, 1967.”

Thanks to his efforts, those of us who have enjoyed benefits directly related to the sacrifices made by Vietnam veterans can come together in remembrance of those who have received The Flag , and to remind those who remain alive that we number ourselves among Americans who are both proud and grateful.


A calendar of the Moving  can be found at

Vietnam Veterans of America 
Chapter 154 
16945 12 Mile Road 
Roseville, MI 48066



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