Group plans to move Vietnam museum to Nelson County
Nelson County natives Bobby Cabbell and Larry Saunders believe there are untold stories from Vietnam War veterans in Nelson County and surrounding areas. To get those stories out, they have been working with a small group for the past six months to move the Vietnam War Foundation and Museum from Greene County to Nelson County.
âWe are doing this because of our dedication as war veterans. There is nothing like it around anywhere,â Cabbell said.
The Vietnam War Foundation and Museum, located in Ruckersville, is a nonprofit, public education foundation. The foundation and museum are dedicated to bringing the stories of the Vietnam era to schools and the general public through narration and displays of actual equipment used by those who served in Vietnam.
The museum is filled with Vietnam War-era memorabilia that has been collected over the years. Memorabilia includes A helicopter flown in the war, different military vehicles used at the time, and different displays, including a typical Vietnamese village. The museum is completely hands-on.
The current museum owner and curator, Craig LaMountain, originally opened the museum nine years ago as a dedication to his brother who died in Vietnam, but whose body was never recovered, and for his cousin who fought as well. LaMountain, who has been diagnosed with cancer, wants to ensure the museum continues after he is gone. Saunders and Cabbell, along with a handful of other Nelson County residents, agree it should continue and plan to move it Nelson County.
Tom Oakley, from Afton, has been part of the group hoping to move the museum since the beginning. Oakley, also a veteran, said the idea was hatched in April or May and everything has taken off since then.
âI have been about 15 times. The museum just sells itself,â Oakley said.
The group has been working with LaMountain in Greene County t o settle on a purchase price for the museum before relocating it to Nelson County.
âGreene County had no interest in taking it over, Albemarle had no interest, and there was a group in Harrisonburg that said no. We were the only group that really worked hard to get it,â Saunders said.
Dick Thompson, Vice Chair and board member for the foundation since 2009, confirmed a multitude of other areas had looked into buying the museum, but only Nelson County has gone this far.
âAt this point we are very optimistic this will happen,â Thompson said.
Thompson said the last days the Vietnam War Foundation and Museum will be open in Ruckersville will be Nov. 11 and 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A contract has yet to be drawn up, but Saunders and Cabbell believe the purchase will happen by the end of the year and the move will begin in early 2019.
âOriginally [the price] was close to a million dollars, but now it is considerably lower,â Saunders sa id. They did not release the final purchase price.
A loan from an anonymous party will fund the purchase of the museum, according to Saunders. In addition to the price of the museum, Saunders estimates that the relocation will cost about $75,000.
Saunders said there are two possible locations for the museum, but the group prefers a site along U.S. 29 in Lovingston. Saunders said they wonât finalize the location until after December.
Cabbell said once the museum has been moved, the group hopes to expand it to include information and memorabilia from other wars and conflicts America has fought. Cabbell said this could include the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
âEven some Korean War and World War II vets. We want to honor all the vets,â Cabbell said.
Saunders said the museum will continue to be privately owned and run once it is in Nelson County. No local, state, or federal money will be used to keep the museum doors open.
They have yet to decide if they will charge an entry fee, but Saunders hopes to have the museum open five to six days a week.
âWhen you get involved â" when you get veterans involved â" we become a family,â Cabbell said. âWe are just so excited.â
Saunders and Cabbell remember their time serving in the Vietnam War, but more importantly, they remember the treatment military personal who returned home received.
âThere are a lot of Vietnam vets out there that people donât know about it. When the vets came back, we werenât welcomed very well,â Saunders said. âSo people out there came back and didnât tell anyone they were there. Just in the last few years the Vietnam vets started to be recognized.â
Cabbell agreed and said the museum will be a way of showing everyone what happened.
Oakley said itâs a winning situation for the county to have this museum because he believes it will attract tourists and honor veterans from different war s.
âItâs an opportunity not to let something go. This guy poured his heart and soul into this. Itâs a jewel and it would be a shame to let it go,â Oakley said.Source: Google News Vietnam | Netizen 24 Vietnam