A worn down Vietnam War memorial in Stockton is moving and getting a replacement. Veterans and community members were concerned about the 42-year-old memorial, and for months they have been raising enough funds to repair and rebuild.
For over 40 years, downtown Stockton’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial has reminded community members of the dozens of San Joaquin County military men who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Wednesday morning, the monument was sawed off, dug up, and moved to a new home.
For veterans Dave Gomez and Arthur Rodriguez emotions ran high.
“It’s in here," Gomez, a Stockton veteran said, patting his chest. "Oh… emotional.”
“It was a traumatic experience. Mostly our units were stationed south of Da Nang,” Rodriguez, a Stockton Veteran said.
Rodriguez served in the Navy while Gomez was an Army engineer.
“Nobody was safe,” Gomez said.
“I get flashback memories there, and then for years and years and years. I never, never talk about it,” Rodriguez explained.
Moving and replacing the monument was a necessary step, organizers said. For years it has deteriorated and even been vandalized.
Six more names are being added to a new one.
“Better, stronger, nicer,” Mike Contreras, owner of Stockton Monuments said.
Contreras' company has been commissioned to build the new monument. Funds raised through Veterans of Foreign Wars Luneta Post 52 were enough to cover the move and the costs of making a new monument.
“It’s going to have two pillars on each side. A pillar on each side. We’re going to get rid of that base down there, and we’re designing something on the side,” Contreras said.
While the 40-year-old stone settles in at its new home at the Karl Ross American Legion Post, Gomez and Rodriguez are also looking forward to visiting the new monument.
“I’m going to come by when they put it on," Rodriguez said, laughing. "I’m going to make sure, I’d be happy to see it.”
The memorial at its new home at the American Legion Karl Ross post will be rededicated on Veterans Day. Organizers added that they will be darkening the names on the existing monument that have been worn out.