Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vietnam Fire Base Due at Blanding

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Vietnam Fire Base Due at Blanding

Article excerpt

Construction of a Vietnam-style combat base is scheduled to

begin April 1 at Camp Blanding in Clay County to honor the

survivors of America's longest war, project organizers said.

"We want the Vietnam vet, when he walks in on this fire base,

to get a cold chill running down his back -- for him to feel

like he's actually back in Vietnam," said project manager Mike


McLemore, who served with the 116th Transportation Company in

Vietnam, said the project was conceived about four years ago

when the board of directors of the World War II museum at Camp

Blanding decided to expand the museum to include displays and

information on the Korean War, Desert Storm and Vietnam.

When the board asked a Vietnam veterans organization to handle

the Vietnam exhibits, the idea of a replica base called Fire

Base Florida was developed.

Fire bases were self-contained and self-defended artillery

bases that supported infantry operations in Vietnam.

McLemore, who is administrative coordinator of Vietnam Veterans

of North Florida, said the project should be completed in 2000.

"We're not trying to glorify war," said Dean Holder, president

of the State Coalition of Vietnam Veterans. "But Vietnam is not

being taught in the history classes in our high schools. We are

trying to change that."

Holder, a Marine artilleryman in Vietnam, said there are

several monuments to those who died in Vietnam.

"We want to build something for those who survived," he said.

The basic purpose of Fire Base Florida is to provide education

to the public about the war in Vietnam and to show people what

life was like at one of these bases, Holder said.

"It's a little tough to show people what the grunts went

through out in the bush," Holder said.

Grunts were what the infantrymen were called who hunted the

elusive enemy in Vietnam. …

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