Volunteers renovate Albany Vietnam memorial

Posted at: 10/15/2013 4:59 PM
Updated at: 10/15/2013 6:23 PM
By: Kumi Tucker

ALBANY -- This Vietnam Memorial was dedicated in 1992, but recently veterans noticed the stone was deteriorating and there was a drainage problem.

Now, on most Saturdays in Lafayette Park in Albany, you will find a group of volunteers, mostly veterans, doing hands-on work. They have been doing wiring for lights and putting in granite pavers around the monument.

Joe Pollicino, head of the Tri-County Council of Vietnam Era Veterans, says most of the volunteers are Vietnam veterans or knew someone memorialized on the wall.

"By the time I went back the last time as lieutenant colonel and battalion commander, my primary mission was to bring as many Americans home alive and in one piece as I possibly could and still complete the missions that were assigned to me," said retired Colonel Charlie Johnson. "So what I think about, I think about the sacrifices that so many made."

The group has spent some $200,000 so far for repairs, and they're still raising money for new benches and another plaque for more names of local people who died in Vietnam. Those names were discovered after the memorial was first built.

Volunteers call this a labor of love to honor those who never came home.

"I see my friends," said Pollicino. "There are six people I went to high school with that were killed in Vietnam, plus my cousin was killed in Vietnam and I know a lot of the families since the last time we did this, so we want something that's going to last long after we're grown to remember the men and women who were killed during the Vietnam War."