Tim Wright built his wall to be a moving tribute to all those lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The retired Army veteran living in Shippensburg has gathered the names of service men and women from six states and Washington, D.C., who were killed in action since October 2001.
About 827 names are listed in black vinyl lettering on six metal panels supported by an aluminum frame that can be towed into position on top a custom-made trailer hitched behind his pick-up truck.
“People need to remember,” the former sergeant said. “I know how I was treated when I came back from Vietnam. I don’t want to see that happen to these fellows.”
Wright got the idea for his Mid-Atlantic Wall of Fallen Heroes from Fred Nunemacher of Millersburg who carved the names of Pennsylvania war dead from Iraq into a two panel cedar monument called the Wall of Fallen Heroes.
“I worked with him off and on for about a year,” Wright said, helping with the transportation and set-up of the tribute at community events. It inspired him to take action in 2009.
One day, Wright asked Nunemacher if he could develop his own wall and expand the listing with the names of fallen heroes from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
Nunemacher had no problem with the idea, saying two walls could be seen more often than one. So Wright got to work and has taken his labor of love on the road to events in all seven places including Rolling Thunder, the annual motorcycle rally in the nation’s capital.
During public appearances, the bed of his truck is decorated with the American flag and the flags of every military service branch. There are speakers installed for Wright to play patriotic music along with a public address system for him to talk to the crowd.
There are separate wall panels for each state with the listing of names arranged in chronological order based on when the soldier, sailor, Marine, airman or coast guardsmen died. The names are organized by year — 2001 is “01”, 2002 is “02” and so forth.
Along with the names on the wall panels, Wright keeps notebooks full of information on every service man and woman killed in action in south Asia. He compiled the information from the Military Times, Associated Press reports and other news outlets.
“I cover everybody from the very first soldier all the way up to the present,” Wright said.
Wright invites the parents, siblings, spouses and children of the fallen to page through the notebooks and write down thoughts about their loved one. The listing of names in the notebooks is arranged chronologically by state.
The Mid-Atlantic Wall of Fallen Heroes also includes a general tribute to military service dogs killed in the line of duty. There are no names listed.
Wright was a military police officer in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 and was the handler of a German shepherd. Though the dog survived the war and was returned to the U.S., the animal could not be released into society because it was trained as a killer.