Date of visit:
February 20, 2014

We rate this trip a:

Trip Highlights:
 Scenic byways
 Magic Circle
 Memorial Park
 History of Conflict
 Serene Chapel

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*** New Mexico ***
*** Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park ***
        Location of Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park
        Fact Sheet of Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park (PDF - 16Kb)
        Vietnam Veterans Memorial Background
        Site Gallery - Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Honoring America's veterans is the principal purpose of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park in Angel Fire, New Mexico. The park's mission is to remember and honor Vietnam veterans, provide educational opportunities to the public, and maintain a haven for healing and reconciliation, The Memorial was constructed from 1968-1971 and was the first major Vietnam memorial in the United States. The site received wide attention in the 1970s and helped inspire the establishment of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1982. In 1987, the U.S. Congress recognized Angel Fire as a Memorial of national significance. Angel Fire is a special, emotional, and powerful place for America's Vietnam veterans and hosts thousands of visitors annually.

New Mexico State ParkNew Mexico's governor Bill Richardson led the effort to protect the Memorial as a state park in 2005 and he had a strong commitment to America's veterans and their families, Gov. Richardson established the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, elevating it to Cabinet level, and has expanded tax benefits for veterans. New Mexico was also first in the nation to establish a $250,000 supplemental life insurance policy for all National Guard and Reserve; 35 other states are now following New Mexico's lead. State Parks will work together with America's veterans and diverse partners to protect and enhance this unique place entrusted to New Mexico's care

Vietnam Veterans MemorialVietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, in Angel Fire, New Mexico, was dedicated as New Mexico's 33rd state park on Veterans Day, November 11, 2005. In 1971, this site became the first major national memorial to Vietnam veterans, preceding the Vietnam Veterans National Memorial (The Wall) in Washington, D.C., which was dedicated in 1982.

The 25-acre Angel Fire memorial is sacred ground to thousands of Vietnam veterans and their families. It is now the first and only state park in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to Vietnam veterans. Privately operated for over 30 years, the Memorial has entered an exciting phase of rejuvenation and expansion under state park management. New Mexico State Parks invites and welcomes partners in this effort.

Doc Westphall
David Westphall
Dr. Victor "Doc" Westphall (above) and Jeanne Westphall raised their children David and Walter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. With their children grown, the Westphalls purchased the 800-acre Val Verde ranch near Angel Fire, where Doc planned to develop home sites and a golf course. The Westphall's elder son, David (left), was an athlete, scholar, artist and philosopher. He found his calling with the U.S. Marine Corps. On May 22, 1968, First Lieutenant David Westphall was among sixteen Marines killed in an ambush in Con Thien, Vietnam.

The grieving Westphalls used David's insurance policies as a catalyst for the construction of the Vietnam Veterans Peace and Brotherhood Chapel. The Chapel was dedicated May 22, 1971 as a place of healing and to serve as an enduring symbol of the tragedy of war. In 1982, the Memorial was deeded to the Disabled American Veterans, and then later donated back to Doc and the David Westphal Veterans Foundation in 1998.

FoundationPartners ... The David Westphall Veterans Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization. The Foundation's mission is to support Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park and to honor America's veterans and members of its military forces by memorializing the sacrifices they have made, and by recognizing the sense of duty and the courage they have displayed as they answered their country's call to arms. The Foundation strives to educate present and future generations about the dangers to which free societies are exposed, the responsibilities inherent in citizenship and the enormous cost of freedom.

The Foundation's objective is to be progressive and dynamic as it fulfills its purpose to honor past, current, and future generations of military service members. A guiding principal of the Foundation will always be that military service is to be honored and respected, because until humanity achieves peace, the preservation of freedom will depend largely upon the convictions, the courage and the heroism of members of the Sates Military Service. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible.

To support the foundation, veterans and non-veterans may order memorial walkway 'bricks' to honor the veterans. Order forms are available here ...
Form 1 ... Form 2

About the bricks: These bricks commemorate all veterans. The dates reflect the dates of service. Two stars signify a person killed in action. One star denotes missing in action. The four bricks at the right before the visitor center entrance honor the founders, the Westphall Family. The sixteen bricks on the left honor David Westphall and the men killed with him in the ambush at Con Thien. New bricks are added every September when volunteers devote an entire Saturday to the project.

The contact information of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation is ...
David Westphall Veternas Foundation
P.O. Box 608, Angel Fire NM 87710
Telephone: 505-377-6900
E-mail: memorial@taosnet.com; Website: www.angelfirememorial.com

Text. logo, and images source: New Mexico State Parks Visitors Brochure, www.nmparks.com
Created by Kate German, Park Manager

The Bell Iroquois UHT 1 is the most widely used helicopter in the world and its service in Vietnam makes it the most recognized. This aircraft was brought to Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park by the New Mexico National Guard in May 1999. Current and retired Guardsmen maintain it to this day.

64-13670 ... Remarkable advances in aviation took place during the Vietnam Era. Pilots pushed the envelope and developed amazing flying skills. On March 19, 1967, while our Huey was assigned to the 121st AHC, an experimental smoke apparatus was installed and the aircraft was given the name "Viking Surprise". Smoke was produced from a ring of nozzles around the turbine exhaust using a 'reservoir of oil. This was one of the first of many Hueys to be outfitted as a smokeship.

Smokeships were used to provide cover for ground operations. When troops were inserted, they went in first and lay down a layer of smoke around the landing zone. The smokeship was followed by a pair of gunships firing to clear the area. Finally Hueys carrying troops would drop in. If the wind was light the smoke would stay close to the ground for as long as five minutes giving the troops time to unload.

MARCH 26, 1967 - THE BATTLE OF EASTER SUNDAY ... Only six days after the smoke generator was installed, Viking Surprise assisted in a rescue operation. At LZ Alpha, two battalions were ambushed and a Huey was shot down. Two Hueys that attempted rescue were also shot down. Two companies sent in to secure the LZ were pinned down and all troops needed immediate evacuation. Viking Surprise put smoke down and four rescue ships were able to safely land. The smoke kept drifting away so pilots, Jerry Daly and Larry McDonald, made multiple passes flying as low as 50 feet to lay down additional cover smoke.

In the battle thirteen helicopters were damaged and one crashed on the way back to base. Viking Surprise was damaged so badly it was rebuilt on the USNS Corpus Christi Bay. 135 bullet holes were counted, six of which had gone through the pilot's compartment.

After repairs, 64-13670 returned to Vietnam and was assigned the 118th AHC. After nine months, the aircraft was returned to the United States. It was stored until 1976 when the New Mexico National Guard acquired it.

  • Tallest point 14'5"
  • Rotor length 48'
  • Weight empty just over 5,000 pounds
  • Maximum takeoff weight 9,500 pounds
  • Range approximately 300 miles
  • Crew = 2 pilots, door gunner, crew chief
  • Seating capacity = 8-10 troops or 6 stretchers and 1 med tech

THE ROLE OF THE HUEY ... It was during the Vietnam War helicopters evolved into an essential asset on the battlefield. Due to their mobility, Hueys took the place of the traditional cavalry. Their missions included troop transport, air assault and medical evacuation. Medevac made it possible for wounded soldiers to be in a hospital within one hour dramatically increasing survival rates
Memorial Chapel
Site Gallery - Vietnam Veterans Memorial State park
Memorial Chapel
Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel
Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel
Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel Memorial Chapel
Grounds and Visitor Center
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Right Photo: The statue "Dear Mom and Dad" was given to the Memorial by artist, Doug Scott of Taos. It was dedicated on Memorial Day 2003. This life-size statue reflects a soldier faced with the dilemma of writing home to his family. What can he say about what he's doing that they will understand?
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Left Photo: Ninety-eight pairs of empty combat boots bear silent witness to the 173rd Airborne's casualties from the Battle for Hill 875.
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Right Photo: Vietnam Woman's Memorial, Original Scale Model, 1990
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Left Photo: Biographies of Vietnam Casualties.
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
About these photos above.
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center
Visitor Center Visitor Center Visitor Center

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