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If Vietnam War veteran Ismael “Izzy” Ortiz had a “giant eraser” he knows exactly what he would do with it.
He’d go back in time 50 years “and rub out big parts of things he saw and experienced” during the war.
“There’s that saying, ‘time heals all wounds,’ — but it doesn’t,” said Mr. Ortiz, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966-67. “We were all 18, 19-years-old; we didn’t know why we were there.
“One year after graduating from Whitmer High School I was getting shot at in the jungle. And, I lost a lot of friends over there. You never get over that.”
With some reluctance, Mr. Ortiz, 66, will join hundreds of other Toledo area Vietnam War veterans who will gather at two events this week in which they will be honored for their service.
The Vietnam Era Veterans Appreciation Event kicks-off Wednesday with a 7 p.m. “Welcome Home Celebration and Honor Roll Call” at the University of Toledo’s Savage Arena. Various other activities are planned through Sunday.
Other highlights will include the return of the Moving Wall, a half-size replica of the Washington Vietnam Veterans Memorial that has been touring the country for more than 20 years. The wall was last in Toledo in 2005. It will be on display at International Park.
In a separate event, a salute to all Latino veterans will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday in Promenade Park, during the Midwest LatinoFest in downtown Toledo. Latinos who also served in Vietnam are encouraged to participate in the Wednesday event as well.
The Latino festival, which will be held from noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, will feature live music, children’s activities, and food and art vendors.
Mr. Ortiz said many Vietnam veterans are often reluctant to be thrust into the spotlight and recognized for something that occurred so long ago. Some veterans from that era are still hurt by how badly they were treated when they returned, he said. Others, like him, would prefer younger soldiers receive the attention.
“I would rather the young kids get the attention,” Mr. Ortiz said. “Those of us who were in Vietnam, we’re in our mid-60s. We’re the old kids now. We didn’t get the recognition then, we don’t need it now.”
But, he and other Vietnam veterans do appreciate the gesture, Mr. Ortiz added.
The Vietnam veteran appreciation effort is a way to “pay homage to those soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice, but never received the credit or recognition they deserved,” Mark Peddicord, the event’s co-director said. Mr. Peddicord also is marketing manager for The Blade, one of the event’s sponsors.
The weeklong event will feature a vintage military vehicle display at International Park that will include Jeeps, an ambulance, and various trucks, co-director Duke Wheeler said. A Landing Vehicle Transport also will be on display. One or two restored “Huey” military helicopters will arrive on Thursday or Friday, he said.
Each Vietnam veteran honored will receive a commemorative coin and be asked to dip a thumb or hand into paint and leave their imprint on a large canvas whose picture, when completed, will resemble the American flag, Mr. Peddicord said. The creation will be put on display throughout Lucas County, he said.
All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.
8 a.m. -1 p.m., Vintage vehicles, International Park
7 p.m., Opening ceremony, at University of Toledo, Savage Arena that will include Vietnam Era Veterans Welcome Home and Honor Roll Call
Noon: Vietnam Wall public viewing begins at International Park and will be available 24 hours a day during the event
12:30 p.m.-2 p.m., Vietnam Era Veterans Forum luncheon at Forrester’s on the River located at International Park
2 – 6 p.m. Veteran resource area at Forrester’s on the River
3 p.m. Financial information with Apprisen
4 p.m. Veterans Administration health care benefits overview
5 p.m. Legal information with Attorney Phil Wylkan
All day - Public viewing of The Wall at International Park
Noon - A Bronze Plaque recognizing and commemorating local Vietnam Era Veterans will be unveiled at All Wars Memorial located in The Civic Center Mall in downtown Toledo.
10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Veteran Resource Area at Forrester’s on the River
11 a.m. Social Security Issues
2 p.m. Jobs with Ohio Department of Job & Family Services
3 p.m. Financial information with St. Paul’s Community Center.
4 p.m. Insurance/financial information with Swan Pointe Care Center
5 p.m. Legal information with attorney Thomas Cafferty
7 - 9 p.m., Bliss Concert, International Park Gazebo
9 p.m., Afterglow at VFW Post 2510, Second and Platt Streets in East Toledo
All day - Viewing of The Wall at International Park and Wall salute
Motorcycle Ride beginning at Toledo Harley Davidson, 7960 W. Central Ave. in Sylvania Township.
Staging Time: 6 a.m.
Kick stands up: 8 a.m.
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Veteran resource area at Forrester’s on the River
2 p.m. Benefits with Joe Jennings VVA
3 p.m. Traumatic brain injury with the Arms Forces, Pam Hays
4 p.m. Spiritual/mental health with Dove Fund, Dan Gregg
Noon – 2 p.m. USO Show at International Park
5 – 7:30 p.m. Vietnam Era Veteran spaghetti dinner at Forrester’s on the River. Please show your DD214 form for a free dinner
Public viewing of the Wall until 4 p.m. at International park
7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunrise Remembrance Service, International Park
8 - 10 a.m. Pancake breakfast, Forrester’s on the River
Noon – 2 p.m. USO Show, International Park Gazebo
4 p.m. USO Show closing ceremony, International Park
Contact Federico Martinez at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.