Work began in November on the new Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Veterans Park on US 301 in Tampa. In the center of the memorial is a solid granite piece with the names of 155 soldiers from Hillsborough County that were killed in the war, and that is flanked by two US Army helicopters; a Cobra and a Huey, both which were used in combat in the Vietnam War. Jim Basta, a veteran pilot who flew both types of helicopters in the war, was on hand as the Huey was being set into place. Seeing the choppers stirs up a mix of emotions for Jim, and reminds him of why this park and this memorial are so important. “We’ve been working to have this for more than 10 years”, said Jim. “This park is so important to veterans. It provides a place for them to gather and heal, a little bit at a time.”
Bob Silmser, Chairman of the HCMemorials of Hillsborough County, is a Vietnam Era Veteran who has worked tirelessly to see this memorial through. He knows how important it is to the Vets, and how important the park is to the community. “We want people to come enjoy the park, and adding this memorial will be a good draw for them to come see what’s back here. A lot of people don’t even know the park is here – we want to change that.”
Sims Crane & Equipment donated one of our cranes to help place the large memorial. Operator Mac McKaig, on the Tadano 300xl, reached over the Cobra and carefully lifted and placed 4 large granite pieces into place. Each piece was marked with meaning for the memorial. The center -piece that is etched with the names of the 155 soldiers from Hillsborough County also has a sketch on the backside done by Sarasota Army Artist Timothy Lawn that depicts scenes of war. There is also a separate piece dedicated to the nurses who served in the war.
At the unveiling ceremony on Friday, November 11th, Alice Mobley, wife of Warren Mobley, was in attendance to see her husbands name etched on the memorial wall. Warren was a helicopter pilot who was killed in a mid-air collision in the war and the memorial means a great deal to her and her family. Her two sons were six and ten when her husband was killed in Vietnam, and memorials such as this are an important part of her family legacy. “I want my sons and grandchildren to know him who he was”.
This very moving memorial is a beautiful centerpiece to an equally beautiful and serene park. We encourage you to stop by and visit the memorial, take a tour of the museum on site and enjoy lunch at the park.
Sims Crane & Equipment sends a heartfelt thank you to all Veterans who have fought for our freedoms.