Items Left at The Wall

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poem, framed handwritten

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 16810
  • Accession Date:10/22/1986
  • Item Summary:Framed, handwritten poem dedicated to U.S. Army Specialist 4 (SP4) Theodore Allen Trock. The poem is entitled, "To Ted", is signed, "From all the Trocks and those who miss you", and reads (in part), "As I view your chisled [sic] name upon THAT wall / is this all we have left? / No; / Not at all." The artifact was left at The Wall by the family of SP4 Trock in October 1986.

pendant, peace symbol

  • Catalog Number:VIVE 38711
  • Accession Date:10/22/1986
  • Item Summary:Peace symbol pendant. The artifact was left at The Wall by an anonymous donor in October 1986.

poem, handwritten


  • Catalog Number:VIVE 32348
  • Accession Date:7/8/1986
  • Associated Name(s) on The Wall: N/A
  • Item Summary:Handwritten poem entitled, "Gunships" authored by, "Pudd / Croc 4 / Crocodile Guns / 119th AHC, 1970". The poem addresses themes of guilt, mourning, physical & emotional isolation, and ultimately forgiveness on the part of a veteran coming to terms with his service with the 119th Assault Helicopter Company, 4th Platoon, Crocodile Guns in Vietnam and the difficulties of adjusting to post-war life. The artifact was left at The Wall by a U.S. Army and Vietnam veteran identified only as, "Pudd" between June - July 1986.
  • Accession Group:VIVE-00025
  • Record Component Qty:1
  • Item Description:HANDWRITTEN POEM. THE OBJECT CONSISTS OF A POEM HANDWRITTEN IN BLACK MARKER AND BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON A LARGE, RECTANGULARLY SHAPED SHEET OF WHITE, UNLINED POSTER STOCK. THE POEM IS ENTITLED, "GUNSHIPS", IS SIGNED, "PUDD / CROC 4 / CROCODILE GUNS / 119TH AHC, 1970", IS COMPOSED IN A FREEFORM STYLE, AND IS COMPRISED OF SIX (6) STANZAS AND THIRTY-ONE (31) TOTAL LINES. IN CONTENT, THE FIRST (1ST) STANZA OF THE POEM OPENS WITH THE PHRASE, "GUILT" AND ADDRESSES THE AUTHOR'S SENSE OF GUILT OVER THE LIVES OF COMRADES WHICH COULD NOT BE SAVED & THE LIVES OF ENEMIES WHICH WERE TAKEN, THE SURVIVOR'S GUILT OF HAVING RETURNED HOME FROM VIETNAM ALIVE, THE REGRET OF HAVING FORGOTTEN THE NAMES OF THOSE WITH WHOM HE SERVED, AND THE DECISION TO ISOLATE HIMSELF FROM FORMER BROTHERS-IN-ARMS AFTER HIS RETURN, "BECAUSE THEY KNEW ME TOO WELL." THE SECOND (2ND) STANZA NOTES THE AUTHOR'S NEWFOUND ABILITY TO MOURN FOR THE FELLOW AMERICAN SERVICEMEN HE COULD NOT ASSIST IN COMBAT, FOR THE ENEMIES WHOSE LIVES HE TOOK IN COMBAT, AND, "FOR MY FRIENDS LOST TO MY ISOLATION." THE THIRD (3RD) STANZA OPENS BY CHARACTERIZING THE AUTHOR AND HIS COMRADES AS, "[...] BOYS REVELLING [sic] IN THE TERRIBLE POWER OF OUR GUNSHIPS", BUT CLOSES WITH THE RECOGNITION THAT EACH MAN IN HIS UNIT WAS LEFT TO HIMSELF TO CONFRONT HIS FEARS ALONE. THE FOURTH (4TH) STANZA BITTERLY RECALLS RETURNING HOME TO A NATION THAT DID NOT CARE TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRICE PAID BY ITS VIETNAM VETERANS, AND DEFINES THE POST-WAR PRICE PAID BY THESE VETERANS AS, "COSTING FRIENDS, A WIFE AND YEARS WITHOUT LIVING FULLY - AND DOING IT WITHOUT THE COVER OF A WINGMAN. / ALONE." THE FIFTH (5TH) STANZA REVEALS THE AUTHOR'S DISCOVERY OF LONG-BURIED FEELINGS REGARDING THE WAR; PARTICULARLY THE HURT OF, "[...] ALL THE LOSSES, PAST AND PRESENT" AND THE, "[...] FEAR THAT PEOPLE WILL TURN AWAY IN HORROR AND DISGUST IF THEY SEE THE REAL ME, WITHOUT ALL MY DEFENSES IN PLACE - A KILLED WITHOUT ABSOLUTION." THE SIXTH (6TH) AND FINAL STANZA OPENS WITH THE AUTHOR'S EXPRESSED WISH NOT TO FORGET, BUT TO SHED THE GUILT AND EMBRACE BOTH THE GOOD AND BAD MEMORIES. THE POEM CONCLUDES WITH THE LINES, "BY STARTING TO MOURN, I START DOWN A PATH THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO FORGIVE MYSELF AND MAKE IT UNIMPORTANT THAT THIS COUNTRY FAILED TO BRING ITS SOLDIERS HOME. / I WILL BRING MYSELF HOME. / NOT ALONE, BUT WITH THE HELP OF OTHERS WHO WERE THERE - / WE'LL BRING EACH OTHER HOME." AFFIXED TO THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT- AND LEFT-HAND CORNERS OF THE OBVERSE OBJECT SURFACE OF THE POSTER STOCK (BENEATH THE LAMINATING MATERIAL) ARE TWO (2) FULL COLOR, PRINTED REPRESENTATIONS OF MILITARY ISSUE, CLOTH PATCH U.S. ARMY INSIGNIA. AT THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER IS A PRINTED REPRESENTATION OF A MILITARY ISSUE, CLOTH PATCH U.S. ARMY 119TH ASSAULT HELICOPTER COMPANY DISTINCTIVE UNIT INSIGNIA, FULL COLOR. THE INSIGNIA IS COMPRISED OF A WHITE SHIELD BEARING AN EMBROIDERED RED EXTERIOR BORDER, CHARGED AT THE CENTER WITH AN EMBROIDERED GREEN, YELLOW, RED, & BLACK GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION OF A CROCODILE STANDING UPON ITS HIND LEGS AND OPENING ITS JAWS WHILE FACING TO THE PROPER LEFT-HAND SIDE. THE PHRASE, "119TH" IS EMBROIDERED IN BLACK BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS AT THE UPPER, PROPER RIGHT-HAND CORNER OF THE SHIELD, WHILE THE CORRESPONDING PHRASE, "ASSAULT HELICOPTER CO" IS SIMILARLY EMBROIDERED IN BLACK, DESCENDING BLOCK SCRIPT UPON THE LOWER EDGE OF THE SHIELD. AT THE UPPER, PROPER LEFT-HAND CORNER IS A PRINTED REPRESENTATION OF A MILITARY ISSUE, CLOTH PATCH U.S. ARMY 119TH AVIATION COMPANY 4TH PLATOON SHOULDER SLEEVE INSIGNIA, FULL COLOR. THE INSIGNIA IS COMPRISED OF AN IRREGULARLY SHAPED WHITE FIELD BEARING AN EMBROIDERED BLACK EXTERIOR BORDER, AND CHARGED AT THE CENTER WITH AN EMBROIDERED GREEN, YELLOW, WHITE, BLACK, GRAY, & RED GRAPHIC REPRESENTATION OF A CROCODILE WEARING A FLIGHT HELMET WHILE SEATED UPON A FULLY LOADED HELICOPTER GUN TURRET (IN FLIGHT AND FACING TO THE PROPER RIGHT-HAND SIDE) WITH RED EMBROIDERED WIND INDICATORS STREAMING FROM BEHIND THE FIGURE. THE PHRASE, "CROCODILE" IS EMBROIDERED IN RED, ARCHED, BLOCK SCRIPT UPON THE UPPER EDGE OF THE INSIGNIA, WHILE THE CORRESPONDING PHRASE, "119TH AVN CO" IS SIMILARLY EMBROIDERED IN RED, ARCHED, BLOCK SCRIPT/ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE LOWER EDGE OF THE INSIGNIA. THE PLATOON INDICATOR, "4" IS EMBROIDERED IN BLACK ARABIC NUMERALS UPON THE CENTER OF THE PROPER RIGHT-HAND EDGE OF THE INSIGNIA. (SOURCE: PATCHQUARTERMASTER.COM- WWW.PATCHQUARTERMASTER.COM) THE POSTER STOCK UPON WHICH THE POEM IS HANDWRITTEN IS LAMINATED BENEATH A CLEAR, POLY-PLASTIC MATERIAL, AND IS PRESENTLY AFFIXED TO A STABILIZING SUBSTRATE VIA NUMEROUS METAL STAPLES. THIS SUBSTRATE IS HELD TOGETHER VIA METAL STAPLES AND IS COMPRISED OF TWO (2) VERTICAL STABILIZING SEGMENTS OF WOODEN METRIC RULERS AND TWO (2) HORIZONTAL STABILIZING WOODEN PAINT STIRRERS.
  • Associated Item Text: Text of the handwritten & reproduced embroidered inscriptions upon the obverse object surface is transcribed in full, as follows: [Obverse object surface, handwritten inscriptions] "Gunships / Guilt / for not getting there soon enough to save some / for having to leave station too soon and losing more / for killing so many / for not killing more of them to save more of us / for living while they all died / for leaving comrads [sic] behind without cover, while I went home / for forgetting the names of my friends who died / for turning away from those who meant so much to me in the Nam - after our return - / because they knew me too well. / Only now am I able to begin to mourn / for those I couldn't cover / for my enemy, whom I killed and whom I now can only think of as other men / for my friends lost to my isolation. / We were boys revelling [sic] in the terrible power of our gunships. Alive and living by our / wits and our skills. Knit close in our dependency yet each alone with his fears and unable / to show them to anyone - not even his wingman. / Not able to ask for help and support from anyone - not even his wingman. / Alone. / After returning home, forced by a country that didn't care, to put all these things away, / to collect interest. So that now, when debts must finally be paid, the price is so very dear. / Costing friends, a wife and years without living fully - and doing it without the cover of a wingman. / Alone. / Only now, 15 years later, I'm learning that I have feelings. The first to come are hurt for / all the losses, past and present, and fear that people will turn away in horror and disgust / if they see the real me, without all my defenses in place - a killer without absolution. / I don't wish to forget. I only want to be rid of the guilt and be comfortable with / the memories - bad and good. By starting to mourn, I start down a path that will / allow me to forgive myself and make it unimportant that this country failed to bring its soldiers / home. I will bring myself home. Not alone, but with the help of others who were there - / We'll bring each other home. / Pudd / Croc 4 / Crocodile Guns / 119th AHC, 1970" / [Obverse object surface, reproduced embroidered inscriptions] "119th ASSAULT HELICOPTER CO / CROCODILE / 119TH AVN CO / 4"
  • Item Dimensions and Weight:
    • Item Weight: 200.0g
    • Item Length: 72.0cm
    • Item Width: 35.1cm
    • Item Height: N/A
    • Item Depth: 0.5cm
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Items left at The Wall - The Virtual Collection

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 13, 1982. Shortly thereafter, visitors to the Memorial began leaving items in memoriam to those killed and missing service members listed on The Wall. These artifacts now collectively comprise the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection -- a museum collection of more than 400,000 items held in the public trust by the National Park Service. Today, this Collection is among the largest and most actively researched collections in the National Capital Region.

The Collection is jointly curated by National Mall and Memorial Parks and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). The VVMF is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that relies upon public donations to continue its work, and receives no federal funding.