Patricia Lopez of La Pine, whose father was killed in the war, will be hostess for replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
LA PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- La Pine is one of 35 cities across the United States that soon will be hosting The Wall That Heals', a two-thirds-size replica of Washington D.C.'s Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
"It gives some recognition to La Pine and people can see what a nice town La Pine is and we have a tremendous amount of veterans," Patricia Lopez told NewsChannel 21 on Wednesdsay.
Lopez will be one of the hostesses at the memorial, which will arrive in La Pine on Sept. 30 and be on display until Oct. 3.
"I'm excited to help people find names on the wall and share some of my stories," she said.
For more than 20 years, Lopez's father, Lt. Col. Robert Lopez, served his country, serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
"He was very patriotic. He loved his country," Patricia said. "He liked to be where the action was. That's why I think he volunteered in '68 for Vietnam."
Her father went to Vietnam to be a base commander, but one week into his assignment, he was killed in action.
"The helicopter that my dad was using came under heavy fire," Patricia said. "My dad and the pilot were in the helicopter when it crashed."
Because Robert Lopez had worked with the Central Intelligence Agency, Patricia and her family did not believe her dad was really missing.
"This is a cover-up story'," she said they thought at the time. "We just didn't believe it, and he was the kind of guy that would get out of any situation."
But, a couple of months after the family was told about Robert going missing, they received another telegram confirming his death, on March 6, 1968.
For 32 years, Robert Lopez was officially listed as missing in action. His body was eventually recovered in the '90s, when Vietnam started letting the United States back into the country to look for and recovery the remains of soldiers killed in action. Robert's remains were eventually found and were buried at the Arlington National Cemetery, a burial that Patricia said her father would have been honored to have.
"I was only nine years old, and my dad had taken my sisters and I on a trip to Washington D.C. to see all the monuments," she recalled. "And we ended up in Arlington in the summer of '63, and I remember as a little girl, I looked up at him and asked him if he wanted to be buried here one day. And he had the most confused look on his face when I asked him that question. It's something he would have wanted. He was very proud of his military career." Patricia said.