Veterans honored at Operation Badger Base - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Veterans honored at Operation Badger Base

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Veterans are reflecting back on their time in the war through several memorials displayed at Operation Badger Base this weekend.

The event brought together a traveling  replica of The Wall That Heals, a replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and a wall dedicated to fallen troops from Wisconsin.

"It's supposed to be a recognition for all veterans for all services at all times," said Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans President Jim Blankenheim who helped create this event.

Blankenheim was a Marine in the Vietnam War where he served from 1968 to 1969. He says looking at The Wall That Heals brings him back to the moments he saw some of his friends pass away.

"I look at the names and I go through what happened again. When they were killed, how they were killed. You kinda see their faces and can see them as if they were here," said Blankenheim.

When he saw a friend's name on the wall he reflected back to the last time he saw him alive.

"We used to say every morning when I'd go out and say 'it was nice knowing you'. The reason we did that was because we didn't know if we'd come back and he didn't that day." He also knew a few troops listed on the Wisconsin wall, some were his classmates from Middleton High.

But beyond the grief gained from looking back on the war, Blankenheim says he wants people who visit the wall to know that Vietnam troops gave it their all as much as any other war.

"The effort that we put into it was everything we had and the American people are finally starting to see that we did give it our all."

Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War.

Operation Badger Base will display the memorials until tomorrow. Afterward, The Wall That Heals replica will travel to its next location in Massachusetts.

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