Friday, October 19, 2012
Crowds of people flocked to Valley Center Friday to visit a half size replica of the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial.
The "Moving Wall" has been traveling around the country for 20 years and just made it's way to Valley Center Thursday.
There are more than 58,000 names on the “Moving Wall.” Johnnie Gonzales came to Valley Center in search of just one.
“Pat was a really good friend of mine, actually he was a football hero. I liked him. He was a good basketball player too,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales was the first from Liberal High School to serve in the Vietnam war, Patrick O’Brien was the second.
"When I came back I asked about him and they told me he didn't make it back,” O'Brien said.
Still, Gonzales says for years, he wondered about his friend.
"Because I wasn't sure. Everybody had told me he didn't make it but I just wanted to see for myself,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales says he wanted answers and thought he'd get his chance when visited the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington D.C.
"When I was in Washington I was a tour bus driver so I was pressed for time. I didn't spend the time that I wished I could have,” Gonzales said.
"I didn't think I’d ever find his name on the wall,” Gonzales said.
But he got a second chance and this time, the wall came to him.
"You know, had all the time in the world,” Gonzales said.
At Lions Park in Valley Center, Gonzales found the name he's been searching for: Patrick O’Brien, killed in action on February 22, 1967.
"I was kind of hoping I wouldn’t find it, you know but he's there. He was a good guy, I really liked him. I wished he had made it,” Gonzales said.
The Vietnam vet tells us Pat isn't the only friend he lost in the war, many of their names are on the wall too. But after more than 40 years of not knowing, Gonzales says he's thankful he can finally say goodbye to an old friend.
The “Moving Wall” will be in Valley Center all weekend and open to the public 24 hours a day. If you want to find the name of someone you think might be on the wall, just visit the information tent or look for a volunteer. They can tell you exactly where to find the name.