Thong “Tom” Bui stood amid a crowd of Arlington residents on Veterans Day and spoke of his experience as a platoon leader for South Vietnamese paratroopers, leading them into combat and the fear that they would die.Bui, now an engineer and community leader, spoke of honoring others who weren’t as fortunate as him by building a $400,000 Vietnam War memorial at Veterans Park. He and other members of the Heroes of South Vietnam Memorial Foundation, have raised $270,000 of $429,000 needed for the memorial through community-wide fundraising events. “To our fathers and to our brothers who died to uphold the spirit and courage of the soldiers of the Vietnamese and American armed forces, you will always be remembered,” Bui said.Plans for the memorial include a 10-foot-high bronze statue of an American solider standing next a Vietnamese solider, American and Vietnam flags, a granite donor wall and a granite tomb to honor those the countless “unnamed” soldiers that died. The foundation chose Arlington’s Veterans Park because many Vietnamese immigrants live in the city, and its central location to the Metroplex makes it accessible to most, said Peter Dao, who works for Dallas Vietnamese Radio in Arlington. Three of Dao’s brothers served in the South Vietnamese army, and one of them who worked as an interpreter for American Green Berets was shot to death. Dao is also vice president of external affairs for the Heroes of South Vietnam Memorial Foundation.Workers broke ground on the site June 22 after the Arlington City Council unanimously voted in December 2012 to let them use land at Veterans Park. Bui said the plan is to unveil the memorial around May. Staff writer Susan Schrock contributed to this report.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST