Guest speaker at The Moving Wall ceremony is 'average' Vietnam vet
Andy Bubnis said he wasn't initially sure why he was asked to speak during a ceremony Saturday at the site of The Moving Wall, a replica of the famed Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
A decorated, high-ranking officer may have been a better choice, he said.
"I'm just some average guy that went to Vietnam," Bubnis, of Elysburg, said Wednesday.
That's exactly why they wanted him.
The Marine Corps veteran will be the featured speaker during a ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Tharptown playground, where the memorial will be on display today through Sunday.
The Moving Wall arrives today. It will receive a motorcycle escort about 8 a.m. from Interstate 80 near Danville through Elysburg, Mount Carmel Township, Kulpmont and Shamokin before arriving at the playground off Route 61 near Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. Staff from The Moving Wall Museum will be assisted by volunteers in setting up the memorial. It will open to the public at 4 p.m.
Wall's healing effect
Bubnis enlisted in the Marines May 30, 1962. He deployed to the Mekong Delta with advisory team 54 in Rach Gia and advisory team 96 in Can Tho, working to provide air and naval gun support to U.S. Army Airborne divisions and allied nations, including the South Vietnamese Army. He earned the rank of sergeant and received honorable discharge Sept. 30, 1966.
Bubnis said he'll talk about the healing effect the wall has on Vietnam veterans. He believes the service members deployed to Vietnam got a raw deal from their home country. They knew the dangers they faced and didn't flee to Canada to avoid the draft, he said. They were called upon to serve and did just that, and they were snubbed.
They have nothing to be ashamed of, he said.
"We have to pass it on to our children so they remember what these people died for and that they didn't die in vain," he said.
"I'm going to tell the Vietnam veterans to hold their heads high; they did their duty."
Difficult day for some
Bubnis has been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on several occasions. Of the more than 58,000 names on the wall, 30 served in his company throughout the entirety of the war; he served with one of them directly.
"I don't think I ever saw a dry eye on a person at that wall," he said.
He's nervous to speak, but he'll deal with it. He expects it could be a difficult day for many veterans, reliving the battles they fought and remembering the troops who were lost.
Saturday's service also will feature a choral group, a rifle salute by the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, Line Mountain students performing taps and a Gold Star mother presenting a wreath in honor of the war dead.
The Moving Wall will be open to the public until 9 p.m. today and from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Honor guards will be on site around the clock.
Parking is limited. Visitors are encouraged to use the free shuttle service that will pick up riders at Weis Markets, Walnut and Sixth streets, Shamokin, every hour.