Greene's Vietnam War Museum Hosts Memorial Day Open House
Dick Thompson stands next to his "co-pilot in time".
The largest Vietnam War Museum in the country - based in Greene County - opened its doors to the public this Memorial Day weekend. The fifth annual open house offers a hands-on look at history and a chance to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Volunteers from the Vietnam War Foundation are geared up to give visitors a hands-on look at history and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
The Vietnam War Museum is hosting its annual open house this weekend. Guests will get an interactive tour of the exhibit - filled with artifacts and treasures all donated by Vietnam War veterans.
"I get emotional talking about it. It's the one time of the year that you really remember and I've lost so many of my buddies in Vietnam," said Craig LaMountain, the Vietnam War Museum's curator.
Memorial Day weekend really hits home for LaMountain who lost friends and his own brother on the battlefield.
"Memorial Day means to me, it's got something special," he said. "My brother died in Vietnam, he was a naval aviator, we never found him," he said.
To honor his brother's memory and all those lost, LaMountain founded the Vietnam War Museum in Ruckersville.
"They weren't teaching it in schools and that's how this whole museum got started because we wanted to get the Vietnam vet back in the time when it wasn't a very fashionable thing to do," he said.
About a dozen volunteers dedicate their time to give the exhibit a personal touch. Vietnam War aviator and the museum's assistant curator Dick Thompson says the museum has two missions - education and remembrance.
"I have 50 years of aviation background and engineering and flight so I love to give just lessons and background for the aircraft," Thompson said.
From airplanes and tanks that were actually on Vietnamese soil during the war to "Dogs of War" reenactors on site, volunteers say they are trying to pass on a special history you can't get from a textbook.
LaMountain said, "If you don't have somebody showing you through that museum, you're missing 99 percent of it because we'll tell you the stories from basic training out by the mini bus where we have our draft notice."
"We just tell the stories in the background and where the items came from and why they were used, how they were used, we let the kids pick them up. They can use everything, they can put stuff on. You can see what the environment is like," Thompson said.
It is an experience that helps this next generation never forget the faces that contributed to their freedom.
Thompson said, "It takes time to pass that all on, and that's what we do, and everybody here loves doing it."
The Memorial Day open house event will continue Sunday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Vietnam War Museum located on 6265 Spring Hill Road, Ruckersville, VA. It is free and open to the public.
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