KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Veterans Traveling Tribute’s Vietnam Wall was only in Kansas City for 11 days, but for some it helped erase some of the heartache of nearly 50 years of feeling unwanted as they returned from an unpopular war.

“I was proud to serve the country, and I’d do it again,” Masami Willis said.

The North Kansas City High graduate decided he wanted join the U.S. military’s effort in Vietnam as a Japanese citizen.

“I went to recruiter and said just so you know, I’m not a citizen of the United States yet,” Willis said. “So he goes if you have a right to live in this country, you have a right to defend this country.”

Chris Crowley flew 1,000 combat missions and rescued 3,000 wounded in Vietnam. But on days like Memorial Day, he’s thinking about 5% of the 58,000 names on the wall that he estimates he evacuated who couldn’t be saved.

He’s also said prayers for his Dustoff medevac unit who suffered three times the losses in their Hueys than other military helicopter units of the era.

“Douglas MacNeil, I flew many many missions with him. He was killed, took a 50 through the chest and his aircraft flipped,” Crowley said pointing to MacNeil’s name on the wall.

For Crowley, the traveling wall is a first chance to really to focus on the lives lost.

“I’m proud of the men that I served with, and I wear this vest and I come here to honor these me. It’s because of men like this and people on the wall that there aren’t many more people on the wall,” Crowley explained.

For many, the fact their sacrifices are now being recognized, after first being viewed as the enemy, is a start.

“I’m just glad to see peoples’ views have changed,” Willis said.

The 140 panels of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute’s Vietnam Wall were disassembled at 3 p.m. Memorial Day and loaded into a vehicle outside Liberty Memorial in route to Texas City, Texas.

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