The General Nelson M. Walker’s voyages to Vietnam almost always left from West Coasts ports like Oakland and San Diego in California, and Tacoma, Washington.
Troops would be flown or transported by train to the embarkation locations, sometimes waiting in nearby temporary shelters before boarding. At Oakland, train tracks were actually laid alongside the ship on the pier and the cars would discharge the soldiers and Marines just yards away from the gangway.
As the voyage progressed, below in the troop compartments the men inscribed graffiti on their Walker bunk canvases. This graffiti has led to voyage stories of men who traveled to Southeast Asia. Because many soldiers and Marines wrote their name and hometown on the canvas fabric, we are able to find the men more than 40 years after their trip to Vietnam.
Once found, they are interviewed about their voyage experiences and their time on the ship “getting there.” Their stories reflect anxiety, boredom, humor and thoughts of home. They graciously share these recollections, and many provide photographs showing life aboard the Walker. Their youth is vividly portrayed in these images.
You can learn more about some of the soldiers and Marines who went to Vietnam on the troopship by reading and hearing their stories.
Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam is currently at Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs California. It will be there November 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016,
Part of the Marking Tiime: Voyage to Vienam exhibit will be travelling to New York City whre it will be part of the New York Historical Society"s major Vietnam exhibit openning in 2017.