Veterans Fund Community Center in Vietnam
16 January 2008
Florida entrepreneur Jimmy Mosconis and New York Stock Exchange Chairman Marshall N. Carter —both Vietnam combat veterans—are providing the funds to build a cultural community center and preschool complex in Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, announced Jan C. Scruggs, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund founder and president.
The Memorial Fund-sponsored complex will be built for the Pa Co ethnic minority tribe in Ha Ba Village located near Khe Sanh and the “Rockpile”—a 750-foot-high, jagged mountain that the U.S. Marines used as a base during the Vietnam War. The community center will host mine-risk education and training seminars in addition to income-generation and health care workshops for the residents of central Vietnam. The Memorial Fund has been active in Vietnam since 2000, when it launched its mine action and humanitarian program, Project RENEW™.
“The Memorial Fund applauds Jimmy Mosconis and Marshall Carter for their financial support that will assist Vietnam’s ethnic minorities—some of the country’s most poverty-ridden people,” Scruggs said. “This is an example of what makes America great: veterans reaching out to help the poorest people in Vietnam.”
The two contributed more than $30,000 combined to fund the community center and preschool complex’s construction. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place in March. The complex will be dedicated this summer in conjunction with a Memorial Fund delegation to Vietnam.
As part of this initiative, the Memorial Fund will be a major sponsor of the inaugural “Adopt-A-Village” Gala and a pre-event reception on Jan. 18 at the Metropole Sofitel Hotel in Hanoi. The charity event is dedicated to raising more than $100,000 to build additional community centers and preschool complexes for the Van Kieu and Pa Co ethnic minorities in Quang Tri Province.
Former Franklin County (Fla.) Commissioner Jimmy Mosconis owns and operates the Bay City Lodge in Apalachicola. He served as Scruggs’ platoon sergeant in the 199th Light Infantry Brigade during the Vietnam War. He and Scruggs were wounded together during a May 28, 1969 battle in Xuan Loc, a hamlet approximately 60 miles northeast of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).
Mosconis was the driving force behind his city’s acquisition last year of a one-of-a-kind detail of the Three Servicemen statue. The original Three Servicemen statue was created by Frederick Hart for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial site.
A graduate of West Point, Carter was elected chairman of the New York Stock Exchange on April 7, 2005. He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Corporate Council. Carter served 14 years with the U.S. Marine Corps, including two combat tours in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 and from 1970 to 1971. He received the Purple Heart, the Navy Cross and the Bronze Star. During the battle in which Carter earned his Navy Cross, his battalion executive officer was now-Congressman John Murtha (D-Pa.). Murtha, chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, has been working to secure funding for Project RENEW™.
Carter last traveled to Vietnam in April 2000 with the Memorial Fund as part of a special delegation to mark the 25th anniversary of the war’s conclusion. During that trip, he saw the need of the Vietnamese people and funded a library in Quang Tri City. “This community-building initiative is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Vietnam’s less fortunate,” he said. “And, it will empower Project RENEW™ to provide education about land mines and unexploded ordnance to minority tribes who need to know how to avoid this dangerous legacy.”
Mosconis returned to Vietnam with Scruggs last August and visited the site where the two were wounded. “After returning to Vietnam last year for the first time since serving with the U.S. Army in 1969, I knew I wanted to help the people of Vietnam,” Mosconis said. “This cultural community center will present countless opportunities for members of the Pa Co tribe to come together as a community, while the preschool complex will provide limitless prospects for education.”The Memorial Fund launched Project RENEW™ in December 2000 in partnership with the Quang Tri Province People’s Committee as the first comprehensive management approach undertaken in Vietnam to Restore the Environment and Neutralize the Effects of War. The program provides safety and injury public awareness programs, emergency medical services, prosthetic limbs for amputees, job training for survivors, database management of survey information, and overall coordination and management of mine-action projects in Quang Tri Province. Since its inception, Project RENEW™ has dramatically helped to reduce casualties resulting from land mines and UXO in Quang Tri and surrounding provinces. It is estimated that more than 350,000 tons of land mines and UXO remain scattered throughout Vietnam. These munitions result in 1,000 casualties each year. More information about Project RENEW is available on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Web site at www.vvmf.org.
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization authorized by Congress to build the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Today, through a series of outreach programs, it is dedicated to preserving the legacy of The Wall, promoting healing, educating about the impact of the Vietnam War and building the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Center, an underground educational facility near The Wall.
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